Chem­istry is cool

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY -

UN­DER the watch­ful eyes of em­ployee vol­un­teers from the Ger­man-based chem­i­cal com­pany BASF, 20 pupils of SRK Sri Petaling in Petaling Jaya, Se­lan­gor, ex­pe­ri­enced the won­ders of chem­istry through sim­ple, hands-on ex­per­i­ments re­cently.

The fun, ed­u­ca­tional work­shop, or­gan­ised by the Malaysian branch of the BASF Kids’ Lab at the com­pany’s Asia-Pa­cific ser­vice cen­tre in Kuala Lumpur, was a sneak pre­view of an up­com­ing five-day event aimed at en­hanc­ing sci­en­tific knowl­edge, par­tic­u­larly in chem­istry, among the young ones.

In con­junc­tion with the In­ter­na­tional Year Of Chem­istry 2011 – of which BASF is a global spon­sor – the in­ter­ac­tive pro­gramme will be held on a larger scale from Nov 9 to 13 at 1 Utama shop­ping cen­tre in Petaling Jaya. En­try is free for chil­dren be­tween six and 12. Tar­get­ing a to­tal par­tic­i­pa­tion of 1,500, it in­cludes spe­cially in­vited kids from pri­mary schools, or­phan­ages and chil­dren’s homes.

“The BASF Kids’ Lab pro­gramme cul­ti­vates an in­ter­est in chem­istry through the dis­cov­ery of its fun­da­men­tal role in ev­ery­day lives,” said BASF Malaysia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Daniel Loh.

“Since we started the Kids’ Lab pro­gramme in Malaysia in 2006, we have re­ceived over­whelm­ing re­sponse from pri­mary school stu­dents who par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gramme. Through feed­back from schools we found out that stu­dents look for­ward to it ev­ery year.”

The work­shop is made more mean­ing­ful with the vol­un­tary ser­vice of BASF staff who acted as fa­cil­i­ta­tors.

Said K.P. Lau, BASF Asia-Pa­cific Ser­vice Cen­tre man­ag­ing di­rec­tor: “We en­cour­age our em­ploy­ees to sup­port com­mu­nity-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties. For the up­com­ing pro­gramme, about 150 of our em­ploy­ees in Malaysia have reg­is­tered as vol­un­teers.”

Dur­ing the ses­sion, stu­dents will take part in four ex­cit­ing water-themed ex­per­i­ments. They will learn how a chem­i­cal com­pound called su­per-ab­sorbent poly­mer can ab­sorb liq­uid up to 1,000 times its weight, and how it can be ap­plied in prod­ucts such as di­a­pers.

The chil­dren will also see how ac­ti­vated char­coal works as a medium for the re­moval of or­ganic con­tam­i­nants in waste­water pu­rifi­ca­tion, and learn about the im­por­tance of emul­si­fiers in the mak­ing of body lo­tion.

That’s not all. There will be a sta­tion fea­tur­ing chem­istry-themed games and in­for­ma­tion, and ac­tiv­i­ties for par­ents and the pub­lic.

BASF first launched Kids’ Lab at its head­quar­ters in Ger­many in 1997. Its pro­gramme of­fers kids the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover chem­istry through sim­ple and ed­u­ca­tional ex­per­i­ments. It was in­tro­duced in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion in 2002 in Bei­jing, China. Since then, more than 200,000 kids have ben­e­fited from it. It is cur­rently held in 17 coun­tries. n The up­com­ing BASF Kids’ Lab event, open to chil­dren aged six to 12, will be held at 1 Utama in Petaling Jaya, Se­lan­gor, from Nov 9 to 13. Par­tic­i­pa­tion is free, on a first come, first served ba­sis. For more in­for­ma­tion and reg­is­tra­tion, visit face­­Malaysia.

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