A collection of short videos/podcasts to spark your interests in science concepts.
Playlist: Science Beyond School, Really?
Check out this playlist for fun applications of science concepts outside of the classroom.
The Science of a DIY Mask (2:55)
When the COVID-19 outbreak began, A*STAR tasked their researchers and engineers to channel their focus towards coming up with innovations that would contribute to Singapore’s fight against COVID-19.
Watch this video tutorial to make your own reusable mask.
Source: The Science of a DIY Mask - YouTube (2020, April 9). A*STAR.
The Fossil Record In Your Mouth (9:00)
The hardened residue scraped off your teeth at the dentist is called your dental calculus, and your dental calculus is the only part of your body that actually fossilizes while you’re alive! And scientists have figured out how to study & trace the evolutionary history of these microbes over tens of millions of years.
Source: The Fossil Record In Your Mouth - YouTube (2021, December 10). PBS Eons. Retrieved 2021, December 23.
Nature's fortress: How cacti keep water in and predators out - Lucas C. Majure (4:19)
Discover the adaptations that allow cacti to not only survive, but thrive, in some of the harshest desert climates on Earth.
Source: Nature's fortress: How cacti keep water in and predators out - Lucas C. Majure - YouTube (2021, November 19). TED-Ed. Retrieved 2021, December 24.
Playlist: Self-Care Science
Going for a run, journaling, having a skincare routine – these are some of the things we do to care for ourselves. What’s the science behind our favourite techniques?
The Science of Bath Bombs | Lab Muffin Beauty Science (4:15)
There’s more to a bath bomb than its multicoloured, fragrant exterior.
Learn about the acid-base chemistry that takes place right in your bathtub.
Source: The Science of Bath Bombs | Lab Muffin Beauty Science (2019, August 31). Lab Muffin Beauty Science.
The Science of Gratitude (2:07)
When was the last time you thought about what you were grateful for?
Watch this video to discover how tapping into thankfulness can rewire your mind, resulting in a boost of happiness and health!
Source: The Science of Gratitude (2016, October 7). Tremendousness.
Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED (13:02)
Sweaty, exhausting, and… life-changing?
Join neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki as she dives deep into the positive, permanent effects exercise has on your brain.
Source: Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED (2018, March 21). TED.
Playlist: S.O.S. (Science of Skin)
Too hot to go outside? Stay home and learn about the largest organ in our body with these videos!
Five skin health myths to stop believing now | Body Stuff with Dr. Jen Gunter (5:50)
Your skin is your body's largest organ ... but it might be the most misunderstood, says Dr. Jen Gunter. From sunscreen to cancer and even chocolate, she tackles five misleading myths about skin and shares what you can do to protect it.
Source: 5 skin health myths to stop believing now | Body stuff with Dr. Jen Gunter, YouTube (2021, June 24). TED
The skin microbiome: a healthy bacterial balance (3:39)
Our skin is home to billions of microorganisms, the vast majority of which are bacteria. Much like the microbiome in our gut, these microbes play a crucial part in keeping us healthy.
Source: The skin microbiome: a healthy bacterial balance. YouTube (2020, December 16). Nature video
The science of skin color - Angela Koine Flynn (4:53)
When ultraviolet sunlight hits our skin, it affects each of us differently. Depending on skin color, it’ll take only minutes of exposure to turn one person beetroot-pink, while another requires hours to experience the slightest change. What’s to account for that difference, and how did our skin come to take on so many different hues to begin with? Angela Koine Flynn describes the science of skin color.
Source: The science of skin color - Angela Koine Flynn, YouTube (2016, February 17). TED-Ed
Articles that will give you an insight into various concepts.
Teen.Things: Fermentation Station: Food All Around Us
Mould, yeast, and bacteria. These are three ingredients which create a delicious meal.
Whether it’s that fragrant egg and onion thosai (savoury thin pancake) you had for supper, or a mouth-watering bowl of suan cai yu (pickled fish stew) from your favourite stall, many things we consume daily are made with the help of microorganisms.
When we think of everyday science, we might picture the obvious — electricity which keeps appliances running, potted plants which undergo photosynthesis, and so on. But what about video games?
Many video games are full of scientific elements. Take the popular game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, for example. In this game, you can fill your day-to-day activities with crafting, trading, and even crossbreeding flowers.
According to players, this crossbreeding algorithm mimics Mendelian inheritance (Source: Discover Magazine, 2020), whereby various traits such as a flower’s colour are a result of a mix of dominant and recessive alleles (Source: I Saw the Science, 2020).
Even Pokémon’s creators were inspired by theories of evolution and parasitism. Check out this video on how science makes an appearance in this beloved game:
But there’s a bigger way science is present in almost all games. It forms one of the foundational elements a game is built on — its physics.
While gaming, if you’ve ever thrown an object or flown through the air, you might have experienced a game’s physics engine in play. This engine is a programme which creates a simulation of how objects move based on the laws of physics.
One of the more popular effects that game engines simulate is something called rigid body dynamics. According to Brown University, rigid body dynamics is “an idealisation of a body that does not deform or change shape.”
Simply put, it is the way in which solid and inflexible objects move. Humans, pets, buses, and trains are all examples of rigid bodies.
Rigid body dynamics can be simulated using the basis of Newton’s laws of motion: the law of inertia, the law of mass and acceleration, and the law of motion (Source: Toptal , 2015).
Using these laws, various differential equations determined by forces and geometry can be created (Source: My Physics Lab). The physics engine then uses these equations to generate iterations of object movement, such as a car moving or a cat walking.
Take a look at this video to see how physics is utilised when building a racing game:
So, why isn’t physics always realistic in gameplay? First, it’s impossible to perfectly simulate real-world physics — there are just too many factors that can’t be accounted for. Second, a physics-defying game makes for more exciting gameplay.
In the game Portal, you’re able to use a gun to create portals which you or objects can travel through. Over the years, questions from players have been emerging on how the laws of physics would fare through teleportation. Can you solve one of these paradoxes?
If you’d like to try your hand at a physics simulator, head to My Physics Lab. This site offers 50 different simulations, where you’ll be able to edit the variables of the objects to get different results.
You can also download Steampunk PuzzlePhysics Game, a free-to-play app where you aim to get a ball to its container using realistic physics laws.
While taking a break from your console, why not get up to speed with these books on physics?
The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day
Author: James Kakalios
Call No.: English 530 KAK
Publisher: Crown Publishing, 2017
Also available as an eBook on NLB OverDrive
Physics professor, bestselling author, and dynamic storyteller James Kakalios reveals the mind-bending science behind the seemingly basic things that keep our daily lives running, from our smart phones and digital “clouds” to x-ray machines and hybrid vehicles.
Most of us are clueless when it comes to the physics that makes our modern world so convenient. What’s the simple science behind motion sensors, touch screens, and toasters? How do we glide through tolls using an E-Z Pass, or find our way to new places using GPS? In The Physics of Everyday Things, James Kakalios takes us on an amazing journey into the subatomic marvels that underlie so much of what we use and take for granted.
Fairground Physics: Motion, Momentum, and Magnets with Hands-On Science Activities
Author: Angie Smibert
Publisher: Nomad Press, 2020
Only available as an eBook on NLB OverDrive
Where can you experience the laws of motion, the fun of physics, and the chemistry of cotton candy? The fair! In Fairground Physics: Motion, Momentum, and Magnets with Hands-On Science Activities, readers learn about the forces that rule our world and everything in it by examining the rides, games, and even food you might find at a county fair. Ride the carousel and discover centripetal force. Listen to the music and learn how sound waves travel through the air. Hop on a roller coaster and name the types of energy involved in whizzing you around the track and upside down!
Everything in life is dependent on light. Plants need light to carry out photosynthesis, while humans need natural light to help us produce Vitamin D and regulate our sleep patterns. Light also enables us to see the beauty of the world around us!
Fun fact: Do you know the word ‘photograph’ evolved from the ancient Greek words ‘phot-’ which means ‘light’ and ‘graph-’ which means writing? So essentially, the word ‘photograph’ means writing with light!
Source: Research guides: Photography: Writing in light: Home. Home - Photography: Writing in Light - Research Guides at Pima Community College. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://libguides.pima.edu/photography-writing-in-light
Here are three fun activities below that you can carry out at home to explore more about light and its fascinating properties.
Activity 1. Visualising Laser Light with Water Mist
Have you ever wondered how light travels? In this activity, let us observe light and how it travels through a water mist.
Suggested: If you are unable to find the materials needed at home, watch the video below and read more about the science behind it under ‘Science Time!’.
● 1 Laser pointer
● 1 Spray bottle (e.g. empty hand sanitiser spray bottle)
Switch on the laser pointer and shine it at a blank surface (e.g. a wall) in front of you. (Be careful not to shine the laser pointer into your eyes or the eyes of those around you!) What do you observe?
Fill up the spray bottle with water.
Shine the laser pointer on the wall and get a friend to help to spray water using a spray bottle along the path taken by the laser.
What do you notice this time?
Did you observe this?
Why are we only able to observe the laser as a dot on the wall but unable to see the beam of laser initially?
A unique property of lasers is that it is very collimated. This means that most of the photons (particles of light) are travelling mostly in the same direction.
In this case, most of the photons travel towards the direction of the wall (as seen by the red lines in the diagram above). Hence, very few photons travel to our eyes and we are therefore unable to observe the laser beam.
Upon reaching the wall, photons get reflected off the surface of the wall and into our eyes and appear as a dot.
How does spraying the path taken by the laser allow us to see the laser beam?
When we spray the path taken by the laser with water, the water droplets (seen by the blue circles in the diagram) act as reflective surfaces.
Hence, the photons that come from the laser beam are reflected off the water droplets and into our eyes, allowing us to see the laser beam. However, as the water droplets spread out away from the path taken by the laser, it loses its effect and we have to spray water on the laser path for us to observe the path again.
Bonus Thinking Question
Have you seen the light and water show at Marina Bay? How does it work?
Source: Spectra – a light and water show. Spectra – A Light and Water Show. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.marinabaysands.com/guides/around-mbs/light-and-sound-show.html
Activity 2. Sunset in a Bottle
In the previous activity, we learned that light travels in a straight line. Now, let’s find out how light can scatter by making your very own sunset in a bottle!
1 Clear bottle/glass with smooth surface (at least 25cm tall)
Water (enough to fill bottle/glass)
¼ cup of milk
1 Torch light that emits white light
Steps and Questions
Fill your bottle all the way with tap water.
In a dark room, shine your torch light through the water from the top of the bottle and from the side of the bottle.
a. When you look at the bottle from the front, what is the colour of the water?
b. What is the colour of the light travelling through the water?
Add milk to the water one drop at a time using your dropper/teaspoon. Stir after each drop with your chopstick, while shining the torch light through the mixture from the top.
a. When you look at the bottle from the front, what colour is the mixture? Is the colour of the mixture the same throughout, or is it different at the top compared to the bottom? Can you explain your observations?
Instead of shining the torch light from the top, now shine it from the side of your bottle.
a. What changes do you observe when you shine the light from the side instead of from the top?
b. When viewing the bottle from the side directly opposite your torch light, what is the colour of the light travelling through the mixture?
Keep adding drops of milk while shining the torch light from the side. Observe what happens to the colour of light travelling through the mixture.
a. When viewing the bottle from the side directly opposite your torch light, what is the colour of the light travelling through the mixture?
Try different solutions from your kitchen!
a. Can you replace the milk with other substances (e.g., different flavours of milk, juice, carbonated drinks, soap, detergent, etc.) and still get the same results? What do all these substances have in common?
Did you see a “sunset” in your bottle? With only water in your bottle, you should see a colourless solution with a beam of white light passing through. When you add milk to the water, you should see some colour changes of light when viewing the milk-water mixture from the side and from the top. Can you figure out why?
Source: Maths. Siyavula. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.siyavula.com/read/science/grade-8/visible-light/12-visible-light?id=toc-id-4
The majority of light that reaches Earth from the sun is white light. White light is a combination of many colours of light, which can be seen in a rainbow when white light is separated into its individual colours by raindrops (as illustrated by the diagram above).
Source: Colours of light. Science Learning Hub. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/47-colours-of-light
As seen in the diagram above, each colour is characterised by a certain wavelength. Wavelengths of blue light are shorter and have more energy, while wavelengths of red light are longer with less energy. When light waves hit an object, they can be 1) reflected; 2) absorbed; or 3) scattered and deflected to a different direction.
Why is the sky blue even though most of the light that reaches Earth is white light? This is due to Rayleigh scattering the diagram above).
Source: Solar Power and Rayleigh Scattering - FXSolver. RSS. (2015, August 26). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.fxsolver.com/blog/2015/08/26/solar-power-and-rayleigh-scattering/
The white light that reaches Earth interacts with gas molecules in the atmosphere (e.g. nitrogen and oxygen) and is scattered in all directions. However, not all wavelengths of light are scattered the same way. Shorter wavelengths, like blue light, are scattered much more than longer wavelengths in all directions. The scattered blue light is what we see and this is what makes the sky look blue!
At sunset, due to the position of the sun, sunlight has to pass through a greater distance in the atmosphere to reach your eyes. This gives the blue light more time to scatter and a lot more blue light gets scattered away through the atmosphere.
The remaining wavelengths of light that you see are now longer wavelengths that are less scattered, such as orange and red. Small particles in the air enhance the scattering effect, which is why on hazy days, the sunsets appear even redder!
Source: Zakiyah Zakariah
Can you now explain the colours you saw in your milk-water mixture? Milk is an emulsion, which means it consists of tiny insoluble fat particles dispersed in the mixture.
Source: Vanstone, E. (2022, May 6). What is an emulsion? Science Experiments for Kids. Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.science-sparks.com/what-is-an-emulsion/
When you point your torch light at the milk-water mixture, the light waves interact with the fat particles in the mixture and get scattered - the same way sunlight gets scattered by gas molecules in the atmosphere!
As blue light gets scattered most, your solution should have appeared slightly blue. Shining light from the top through the solution increases the distance the light waves have to travel through the mixture. That means that blue light can be scattered away even more throughout the solution. This is why at the bottom of the bottle, there is almost no blue light left anymore and it looks yellow or orange.
As you add more drops of milk, almost all the blue light is scattered away by the particles in the mixture. This is why the colour of the light you see through the mixture becomes orange, just like a sunset!
Source: Zakiyah Zakariah
Activity 3. 3D Hologram Projector
Have you ever seen holograms in movies? Holograms have been a huge part of science fiction blockbuster movies, such as the Iron Man and Star Wars franchises. It may seem like having a hologram is a far-fetched idea meant for a euphoric world. What if YOU can create your very own 3D hologram from the comfort of your home?
Source: Kingsman: The secret service - jellyfish. Jellyfish Pictures. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://jellyfishpictures.co.uk/projects/kingsman-the-secret-service
From the previous activities, you would have learned some of the fundamental concepts of light. With the knowledge that light travels in a straight line, let’s explore how a “floating image” is produced through the use of a hologram projector!
● 1 piece of stiff plastic sheet (You can also use recycled items such as an old CD case or disposable food containers)
● Template in Annex A (If you do not have access to a printer, you can also make your own template! Draw a basic “Trapezoid” on a piece of paper based on the dimensions in Annex A.)
● 1 Smartphone
● 1 piece of Clear tape
● 1 pair of Scissors
● 1 Ruler
● 1 Marker/ Pen
Trace the template on the transparent film using your marker and ruler.
Cut out along the black outline. (Be careful with the sharp scissors! Get an adult to help you with it!)
Fold along the lines in red.
Stick the two edges together with clear tape to form a pyramid.
Play any of the 3D videos found in Annex B on your smartphone.
You can search for ‘hologram video four side pyramid’ videos on YouTube or you can choose some suggested videos from the links below!
Place the pyramid at the centre of your device (in between the 4 moving images).
Now, switch off the lights and get down to the same level as the device, watch, and enjoy!
What happens when you try to touch the “floating image”?
Use your finger to block the inner face of the pyramid. Are you still able to see the image?
Use your finger to block the video (under the plastic pyramid that hangs over) on your smartphone. Are you still able to see the image?
Compare the hologram image and the image on the smartphone.
How is the hologram image formed? The 3D hologram projector works on the principle of Pepper’s Ghost. In a Pepper’s Ghost Illusion, when a real image is reflected in a transparent screen at a 45-degree angle, viewers see a reflected virtual image that seems to have depth and appear out of nowhere.
Source: Henderson, K. (2022, June 13). Pepper’s Ghost: Hologram Illusion. Science World. Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.scienceworld.ca/resource/peppers-ghost-hologram-illusion/
Four symmetrically opposite variations of the same image are projected onto the four faces of the pyramid. By principle, each side projects the image falling on it to the center of the pyramid. These projections work in unison to form a whole figure, which creates a 3D illusion.
By playing the videos, light rays are emitted from your smartphone and off the projection pyramid. The reflected light ray will now travel into your eyes, allowing you to see the moving images! Since the image formed in virtual, it is not projected on a screen but rather, appears to be floating in midair.
Source: Vasanth, N. (2015). Template for Hologram [Illustration]. Maker Pro. https://maker.pro/custom/projects/diy-hologram