SSHP Japan-Asia Youth Exchange in Science, Japan
From 4 to 11 July, a group of 5 Dunmanians (Guo Jingxue, Chan Chee Meng, Vanetta Lee, Rachel Pong and Dong Yuzhen), under the leadership and guidance of Mr Mark Lim, went to Japan and participated in the Sakura Science High School Programme (SSHP) organised by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). The objective of the trip was for youths in Asia to experience science and technology in Japan and to promote long-lasting friendships and collaboration among Asian countries.
The one week visit to Japan acted as an eye-opener for the students. They had the opportunity to visit various laboratories, research institutes, museums as well as famous universities, where we attended lectures by professors. The students even had the once-in-a-lifetime experience to do a hands-on experiment with the Professor Shirakawa, a Nobel laureate in Chemistry (2000).
The universities that the group of students visited included the prestigious Kyoto University and Keio University. Kyoto University is well-known for producing the world’s top researchers, including nine Nobel Laureates.Through the lectures at Kyoto University, students got to experience the self-directed learning that took place there. Through introductory presentations at both universities, students got to learn more about the international courses available there.
Besides visiting these universities, students also had the opportunity to tour around world-class research facilities in Kyoto and Tokyo. The research institutes that the students visited includes the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) Yokohama Institute for Earth Sciences, the JAMSTEC Yokosuka Headquarters and RIKEN Wako Centre.
At the JAMSTEC Yokohama Institute for Earth Sciences, students were allowed to view the supercomputers of high level computational capacity used by JAMSTEC to run global climate models to evaluate the effects of global warming and problems in solid earth geophysics.
Following that, students were granted access to JAMSTEC Yokosuka Headquarters and were introduced to three deep sea drilling ships, Chikyu (地球), Shinkai (深海) 6500 and Urashima. These technologies were used to detect natural disasters and give early warning by monitoring the sea bed movement. In addition, they also serve as important tools used by researchers to study about the deep sea, in which many mysteries have yet to be solved. Students also saw the emphasis on recycling at JAMSTEC, when they were told that the Lithium ion batteries used in Shinkai 6500 is replaced every 2 years and the replaced batteries can be reused for Urashima, which minimised wastage.
At the RIKEN Wako Centre, students managed to get exclusive access to their Superconducting Cyclotron machine. Students gained insights on the mechanisms behind the production of Radioactive Isotopes using the machine and how researchers at RIKEN used their results to find out how planet Earth was created. Although RIKEN’s Superconducting Cyclotron could not accelerate particles as fast as the Large Hadron Collider can, students saw how scientists at RIKEN made full use of whatever they had so that they were not on the losing end.
In addition to the exposure to science and research in Japan, the trip also served as a culture exchange for the participating students. The kimono show, the demonstration of sado (tea-making) and ikebana (flower arrangement) as well as the visits to several temples offered the students with deeper insights to the unique Japanese culture and history.
The good organisation of the entire programme, the politeness and hospitality of the Japanese, as well as their strong awareness of environment protection left the students with brilliant impressions as well as soup for thoughts.