Taiwan Science and Cultural Immersion Programme, Taiwan
On the 7th of November, 3 teachers and 22 students went on a 9D8N Science and Cultural Immersion programme to Taipei, Taiwan. The trip involves an immersion with Kang Chiao Bilingual School, lessons with the National Taiwan University (NTU) and various other activities with the objectives of:
- enabling students to appreciate the history, culture, education, economics and politics of Taiwan,
- allowing students to learn more about the scientific research fields in NTU and other partnering research institutes as well as nurture essential values and attitudes towards scientific inquiry and research, and
- fostering international friendships, understanding and appreciating the Taiwanese history, culture, education, economics and politics while developing respect for cultural diversity.
On Day 1, the students had an enjoyable student exchange at Kang Chiao Bilingual School located at the top of a mountain in Taipei. They attended various hands-on lessons such as geographical contour making, and baking yolk pastry. The students also interacted with their buddies from Kang Chiao and experienced how the lessons are conducted in Taiwan. The science fairs presented by the local students allowed them to have a wider perspective of science and different research skills. Overall, the school immersion was one of the highlights of the whole trip as the Taiwan students were extremely friendly and easy to approach; indicative of their upbringing in the progressive Taiwanese society.
On Day 2, the students visited the Museum of Institute of History and Philology and learnt about the rich Chinese history. It preserves precious historic relic and artefacts further enhanced our learning outside of the classroom. At the National Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, the students also learnt how Taiwan dealt with the frequent earthquakes as she is very prone to earthquakes and typhoons as a result of her geographical location which lies between the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Sea. This thus allowed the students to be more appreciative of Singapore’s safe geographical location, where they do not have to worry about such natural disasters. The students also went to Taipei 101 to catch the bird’s eye view of Taiwan. There, they learnt about the unique structure of Taipei 101 and the damper which prevents Taipei 101 from collapsing despite its tall mounting structure when faced with strong wind currents.
On Day 3, the students visited National Taiwan University (NTU). They visited the NTU museum to learn about the history of the university. Afterwards, they visited an exhibition of beautifully drawn biological drawings which gave them an insight on how students studied in the past without image capturing technology. The students were also given a tour around the huge campus of NTU. During the chemical bead modelling activity, students learnt about the complex structures that existed which stretched beyond what was learnt in school. During the evening, the students went to Tamshui, a night market where the students experienced the different style of living in Taiwan.
On Day 4, the students went to Yangmingshan National Park where the temperatures went as low as 13°C. They explored the high mountains surrounded by mist and climbed mountains of height up to 800m. The students managed to experience the breath-taking beauty of the mountains after the tiring hike. It was cold and windy yet they were unperturbed by it and took their time to take in the beauty of nature. Students also visited the house of Jiang Jieshi and Xiaoyoukeng where they witnessed the hot springs and fumaroles at the top of the mountain and the unique smell of the sulfur. This was also the first time that the students were very near to a dormant volcano, which cannot be experienced in Singapore.
On Day 5, the group had visited a number of museums, including Shihsanhang Museum, where they took in new knowledge on the topic of archaeology, controversies such as having to deal with government demands for the land of interest for development versus conserving land for archaeological studies. They were also exposed to different aspects of the work of an archaeologist, learning that the job did not simply entail digging and cleaning artefacts, but also included having to study, classify, make deductions then organise them neatly into the exhibits for the public to view. The students also learnt a lot about the resilience and attention to detail displayed by the founders and the employees of the Suho Paper Memorial, as they had willingly devoted all their time into reviving an obsolete form of paper making by hand, just to show how it was made in the past, and included hands-on activities and engaging demonstrations in order to make it interactive as possible for a memorable learning experience. After the museum visits, the group had also visited the Rao He Night Market, where they were able to truly experience the bustling nightlife of Taiwan, unlike their previous visit to a less popular night market where the streets were much less crowded.
On Day 6, the students also went to several museums of interest, where they were exposed to not only the areas of study the museum exhibits specialised in, but also the different work mentalities of tour guides, and were able to reflect upon their own mentality towards their everyday life too. They firstly made a visit to the Taipei Astronomical Museum, where the students saw the indomitable determination of astronauts to explore and study the world outside of Earth, and also saw how miniscule our planet was compared to other celestial bodies. The tour guide in the museum showed the students many interesting videos such as how astronomers eat and brush their teeth in space where gravity is negligible. From here the students also learnt that in space food must be kept in airtight bags as food supplies are only available once every 6 months or more. Students also learnt how to indicate the north star and learnt more about different kinds of stars such as the Medusa Star.
After lunch, the students popped next door to the National Taiwan Science Educational Centre. The group later also visited a biodiversity exhibition, in which the tour guide had employed a very different, perhaps unorthodox method to engage the students with her own personal collection teaching aids and unique origami handed to the students, displaying her strong conviction and advocating the message of protecting and conservation of the environment and Mother Earth. Next, students attended a public lecture conducted by a local professor. Through the lecture the students learnt many physics related daily applications and honed on our critical thinking such as making assumptions of an object’s size and shape; how the force exerted by an object can be multiplied so much that it can actually knock down objects of way larger mass. More importantly, the lecture also left the students awed, this time at the education system of Taiwan. Much unlike Singaporean students, the Taiwanese students from young were proactive in learning and always asked constructive questions to push the lecture along. In contrast, Singaporean students had been accustomed to a more passive form of learning, taking whatever the teacher teaches at face value, writing them into the notes and studying them mechanically. This active learning displayed by the Taiwanese students hence also gave the Singaporean students a valuable learning point, that is to not be afraid to question the teacher, as long as it is constructive. Finally, to end their day off, the group went for a tour around the Ximending Night Market, and they were able to draw similarities and differences between this and the other night markets they visited. Firstly, the vast amount of food stalls remained the same, as it had appeared to be the primary attraction of the streets, while the difference lay in how the stalls were mostly more modernised, where there were much fewer street side stalls, but rather replaced by the rented stalls on the sides of buildings. This hence was able to make students reflect upon the gradual modernisation of Taiwan, in the form of the night markets which they were able to draw up contrasts between the different night markets they visited.
On day 8, the students returned to the National Taiwan University(NTU) for a microscopy biology experiment where students had a hands-on experience in cutting and dissecting roots and stems of dicotyledonous and monocotyledonous plants. Apart from the dissection, the students were also taught about staining, which is the method of colouring the specimen to enhance the contrast of the tissues. It was an eye opening experience as students were able to see the different arrangements of the vascular bundles in different types and parts of plants through powerful microscopes. This was followed by lunch after which students headed to the NTU farm. At the NTU farm, the students were given a chance to dye handkerchiefs using only natural dyes from plants. The guide led the students for a walk around the ecological farm for research and study to smell and see different plants. The NTU guide also explained some fun facts of the plants and also its functions such as the mint, which can help with mosquito bites, and tea tree, which tea tree oil could be extracted from to remove acne. Other than the functions of the plants, students also learnt some knowledge in farming through a game, for example, students were taught not to plant all the same plants at the same time as this has higher risk than planting a variety of plants at one go.
On day 9, the last day of the trip, the students proceeded to the pineapple cake factory–Vigor Kobo. There, the students experience making their own pineapple cakes of many different shapes. In the midst of waiting for the pineapple cake to be baked, the students watched a short film of how pineapples come about. The students were also given the chance to see the pineapple cakes bakery using the modern technology of the factory and also tasted the pineapple cakes. After buying some pineapple cakes and other food from the Virgo Kobo the students went for their last meal in Taiwan and bid Taiwan goodbye at 12pm.
“Some museums were more interesting than the others but we always learnt something new. There were many hands on activities which made the learning more fun.”
16Y3F Sarah Phua Rui Yi
“The city is very environmentally considerate; its streets are cleaner than that of Singapore, and they are well known to employ effective actions to reduce their impact on the environment; inclusive but not exclusive to: having plastic bags on coaches to have passengers dispose of their own rubbish, as well as using toilets that use less flushing water.”
16Y3B Luar Shui Yan
“Although today was very short-lived, I actually gained alot of new insights about how schooling life is in Taiwan, it is very different from us in the sense that they have naps and self-study hours and put a lot more emphasis on sports. ”
16Y3D Jace Ng