On the first day of the 4th APEC Youth Science Festival, we attended the Opening Ceremonies. After being served some delicious refreshments, we sat down and watched a few opening lectures from prominent scientists and science educators from around the world.
First up was American educator Hilary Staples. She gave a fascinating talk about how technology mirrors nature. Next there was a lecture by German physicist Prof. Hans Hilgenkamp. He showed us a short film he had made about drawing a picture of an elephant on one of his daughter’s hairs! It was truly mind expanding. After some more lectures including one by a Japanese astronaut, and another by a Thai biochemist, we visited the Thailand science fair.
It was the first day, which officially started the AYSF. We got up and changed into the t-shirt of the AYSF that we received during the orientation session, where we also received a bag containing notebooks of the AYSF, a pin and a cap. We went downstairs and sat with our group. I had been assigned to the 10th group. I didn't know anyone, but then I talked to two girls from Brunei Darussalam, a country I did not know existed. In fact, it is a tiny country which is under the control of a sultan. The people of Brunei are fluent in English because their education is in English.
We boarded a bus that took us to the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC). The bus was particularly cute. There were two floors and colourful curtains were hanging on each window. At BITEC, we sat in the entrance hall and practisedour AYSF clapping cheerfor the first time. It was particularly difficult for me to synchronize my clapping with the others, but the more we practised, the more I improved. Afterwards, we were led by group into the Conference Room for the Opening Ceremony and had a snack after choosing our place. What was surprising and special was that everyone put their food on a round table and everyone ate standing! After enjoying the delicious snack, we down and and I got to know students from AYSF.
The Opening Ceremony included a number of Thai music and dance performances, including a very beautiful dance. The men played a Thai instrument very similar to our Western drums. The performers asked some members of the audience to come and dance with them on stage. A robot, built for the festival, was presented to the audience, who were asked to participate in a contest to name it. Then the Thailand Minister of Science and Technology officially opened the AYSF.
He was followed by several great and unique scientists who spoke, including Hilary Staples (Naturalist and Teacher from the Biomimicry Guild Institute), Dr. Hans Hilgenkam (Physics, Faculty of Science and Technology University of Twente), Mr. Soichi Noguchi (Japanese aeronautical engineer and a JAXA astronaut) and Dr. Yongyuth Yuthavong (Senior Scientist, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and Former Minister of Science and Technology, Royal Thai Government).
After the ceremony we had the opportunity to meet the scientists and to take some pictures, I took a picture with Mrs. Hilary Staples. After lunch we went to the 2011 Thailand National Science and Technology Fair, which was absolutely amazing. I made new Thai friends who were very helpful, as most of the exhibitions at the Science Fair were in Thai.
We visited many different exhibits and were amazed by all of them (see pictures). Then we came back to the Ceremony Hall and attended the Welcome Dinner which gave me an opportunity to meet even more people. During the dinner, which was delicious, there was a Thai puppet show which was marvellous and very well done. After that, we returned to the Sirindhorn Science Home.