Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 7: It’s the last day! (Almost)

Hi everyone, we’re back from Phillip Island bursting with more stories.

This morning, we visited Amaze“N”Things, which is a big playground filled with optical illusions and puzzles. There is a gigantic maze there, where the sides of the maze are much taller than any of us – even the teachers! We were all running around inside the maze for a long time, trying to locate the four flags and their “CONGRATULATIONS!” signs. A few of us succeeded, but most of us had a great early morning 1.6km run, as we were running in circles :D After the maze, we entered Puzzle Island, where we experienced the gravity room (gravity seems to work upwards in the room, but that’s only because the WHOLE room is tilted), the shrinking room (where one of us could appear very small, and the other very very large), a rotating room (where the room is rotating but you feel like YOU are rotating!) and a huge mirror maze (which was very confusing, because you could never tell what was real and what was just a reflection). Many of us who were brave enough also tried the “Look Out!” slide, which is almost vertical at the top. To go down the slide, we had to first wear orange overalls, then climb a flight of stairs to the top. After that, climbed over the edge, and hung onto a bar (of course, some staff from AMaze‘N’things were guiding us). The hardest and scariest part was letting go, because for a little while we felt like we were falling into nothing. Those of us who tried it (including the four teachers) agreed that it was really AWESOME FUN! In fact, some of us went back for a second try!:) The whole morning at AMaze‘N’Things was so much fun, and all of us piled onto the bus with big smiles.

Our next destination was the Wonthaggi Wind Farm. We got up close to a wind turbine, which is pure white and has a tall pillar with three large blades rotating at its end, like a huge ceiling fan that has been stood up vertically. They are huge! Like, HUGE! The circle made by the three big blades of the wind turbine make a circle that is 82m across. Each of the blades weighs 6 tons – or, 6000 kg! Altogether the entire turbine weighs 160 tons, and stands 110m tall. That’s amazing! It is hard to believe that people can build something like this. The teachers taught us that wind is a renewable source of energy, because it never runs out, and we can just keep using it. However, they asked us to think about why Singapore doesn’t use wind power. We think that maybe we don’t have the space for the wind farms (the farm has to be quite big! Wonthaggi holds 6 wind turbines of that size), and our winds are not strong enough. Our guide told us that the wind farm can make enough power for 6000 homes for a year. Wow!

After the wind farm, we had lunch, then had a 2 hour drive back to Melbourne…where we went to the MELBOURNE AQUARIUM! We had a wonderful guide at the aquarium, whose name was Lai (pronounced “Lay”). He had a loud booming voice, and even though we were tired, he made it very interesting for us. For example, he taught us that the larger sharks tend to be the females, and for clownfish, the larger fish turns into a female. It seems that in the world under the sea, the larger and stronger ones tend to be the females! Lai said that it is because they have the big and important job of producing babies. We met jellyfish, a large leopard shark, the only Grey Nurse Shark left in Victoria, massive stingrays that sailed over our heads in the tunnel, and starfish that were surprisingly prickly. We also got to colour in our own bags (with sea dragons on them) to bring home as souvenirs. We even got a special photo to take home, with us in it. It was fantastic!

Well, that brings us to the end of our educational programmes. Tomorrow morning we will be doing some shopping, then it’s HOME for all of us! It’s so exciting but sad at the same time. Many of us really love Melbourne, especially the cool weather.

It seems that the next time you hear from us, we will probably already be home and able to give you all a warm (and sticky, since we’re in Singapore) hug! Can’t wait to see you all again, dear faithful readers, and thank you for all your comments, which the teachers have been reading out on the bus! :D

With big big smiles,
All 35 of us :D

Personal Messages:)

Personal Messages from the members of Science Alive!:

Afiqah: Mummy I miss you very much and I bought something special for you. P.S. I cried on the first day. Mr James gave me a new scarf.

Azreen: Mummy I wish you can see the penguin parade because the penguins there are very cute, and seeing how they walk to their homes are still cute.

Yiting: Mummy I miss you, and I miss my sister, my brother and my father.

Andy: Mummy, I miss you very much, and I wish you can follow me (next time pack motion sickness pills), and I bought you a lot of presents (I wasted a lot of money, sorry).

Wan Shyan: Why in the world aren’t you reading the blog and commenting? I like the cooling weather, Singapore is too hot :p

Daniel: Mum, how is Singapore? How is the weather, cos the weather in Melbourne is killing me. How is my little baby sister? Has she been taking her medicine recently?

Hannani: I feel like staying here and not going back to Singapore.

Luke: I wish you were here with me to see everything that I saw, I can’t wait to go home, I miss everybody, and I can’t wait to start doing my school homework.

Jian Feng: I wish Singapore’s weather is same like Melbourne, with four seasons.

Gheslynn: I’m very excited to tell my whole family about my adventures in Melbourne. I miss everybody in my family, and I’m super-duper excited to go home back to Singapore.

Sobi: Mummy, I am fine, you don’t have to worry. I miss everyone at home, and can’t wait to come back. Please don’t forget to wish me happy birthday when you meet me in school!

Maisie: Hi mum, how’s Dax? Today we saw all the penguins, they were so cute climbing up the beach. However, this afternoon, the guides showed us the spot where a poor little penguin got eaten up by a big bad fox (so sad, waaaaaaa). Please stop nagging on the internet :)

Coral: Jessalyn keeps on calling me Blue Coral Bubble Tea, and Daniel Chow keeps calling me Coral Snake, of the Coral Sea which likes to eat Coral Cabbage.

Jessalyn: Thank you Mdm Nabeesah for caring me. I’m going back to Singapore soon and I wish to see you soon.

Aliyah: I really miss my mum, and I can’t wait to go home, and I hope I can contribute the things I learnt here to the school.

Melody: I miss you (mother and father) I hope I will quickly go back to Singapore and meet you again, remember to fetch me at the school. At Melbourne is very cold.

Nurathirah: I miss you mother and father, I bought you a lot of things, I hope you like it. Do tell my sibling that I miss them also and also fetch me at the school. Bye bye!

Nasuha: Mummy I miss you, I love you, Daddy same goes to you. Please fetch me at the school. Miss the both of you.

Siti Zubaidah: Mummy I want to hug you, I miss you a lot. I love you. Happy birthday, I cannot celebrate with you your birthday party, I am very very sorry. When I get back to Singapore I give you a present. Do tell my family I miss them a lot.

Jamie: I miss you a lot Daddy and Mummy. I hope you go to school on time and fetch me.

Sharon: How are you, my family members?

Hyzraul: I miss you a lot Ibu. Hope you guys are having a great time there. I am!

Zi Chen: How are you feeling?
Day 6: Primary School, Picnic and Penguins!

Today we visited Cowes Primary School in Phillip Island. The students there are very friendly. They welcomed us with an energetic and fantastic African drumming performance. Then, everyone got to meet their buddies. Aliyah loved her buddy because she was very friendly and caring, and she said she really likes our school (her name is Alice). Aiman also liked his buddy because he gave him a ten-cent coin. Sharon loved her buddy because she was very friendly and helpful. Christopher’s buddy was very sociable and told him about anything he wasn’t sure about. Andy’s buddy always asked questions about the Chinese language. He was also very friendly. Wan Shyan’s buddy gave her eight badges that were all made by her! We got free food at the school canteen because the school was kind enough to let us try their food. However, Christopher did not realize that the food was free and he paid money! :D We all visited the school’s sanctuary, which was next to their very nice playground. Most of the Grade 3 to Grade 6 students could do backward somersaults, and they asked us to try, but we said no :) Some of us attended an art lesson with the Cowes Pri Students, where we made beautiful Aboriginal paintings using the symbols they taught us. At the school vegetable patch, we planted potatoes, fed the chickens (with worms from the worm farm), and held the chickens. Andy learnt that chickens can fly, and Wanshyan found out that horse dung can be odour-free if it is left to dry for a long time.

After the school visit, we went to meet another Mr Peter (Cole) for lunch at Rhyll Inlet. Mr Peter prepared Apple Blackcurrant juice, orange juice, scrumptious barbequed chicken and fresh bread for us. We had lunch in a natural setting, where there were a lot bushes, and it was very beautiful. We could see the sea from where we were having a picnic, and we also saw an island that was not too far away from the coastline (Mr Peter said it is called French Island). After lunch, we went on a “short” walk that turned out to be quite long. Some of us were running, though, while those who were slower were chased by Mr Helmi, who said he would carry them. We walked to the mangroves, where we saw many different spider webs with different patterns. Mr Peter told us about the four reasons that mangroves are important. Firstly – it helps to prevent soil erosion. Secondly, it helps to keep the water clean. Third, it is home to many birds. Finally, it supports a large number of animals in the ecosystem there. Did you know that mangrove plants live in seawater (unlike rainforests, which need fresh water)? We saw some holes in the soil below the mangroves made by crabs, and Melody saw a worm in the water. Mr Peter explained that the oil from the rotting mangrove leaves makes the water look green and filmy. On the way back, we saw a tree which had flowers which looked like mealworms. Most of us were grossed out! :D By the time we got back to the coach, we were all panting, but surprisingly, we were not sweaty. That is because the air was very cool and dry.

After the walk at Rhyll, we went to the Penguin Parade Centre. We were given a talk by two rangers, Rebecca and Carissa. They said we were not students anymore, but junior rangers. We were all given a headband that we could draw our junior ranger name and picture on! Coral named herself Blue Coral Bubble Tea, Jamie called herself Fluffy Penguin, Afiqah called herself Penguin Master, Azreen was Jedi Penguin Master Azreen, and Jessalyn was Jess-pen. We put on our headbands, and began our adventure. We learnt how the penguins camouflage themselves in sea; that the male has a short, fat beak, and the female has a long, thin beak. Reb and Carissa brought us to the spot where they discovered feathers from a dead penguin. They were very sad, and wanted to find out what had happened. They started investigating, and asked for our help. So, we learnt to differentiate fox and dog footprints in order to solve the mystery of who or what ate the penguin. We found out that fox footprints were found near the site, as well as fox poo (fox poo has a little “tail” that helps us to identify it). They told us that inside the fox poo, they discovered more penguin feathers. So, we concluded that the red fox was the culprit. We felt like we were police, investigating a case. We were sad to find out the truth, and we learnt that foxes are harmful to penguins. In fact, a fox can kill 40 penguins in a day – that’s 280 penguins a week! So, Reb and Carissa explained that they need to work hard to keep foxes away from the penguins.

After the Penguin Mission, it was time for the Penguin Parade! We were EXTREMELY excited (and cold), because we had never seen penguins in their natural habitat before. Previously we had only seen them in zoo enclosures, where they are not very free to roam around. At the Penguin Parade, they are wild animals, with the freedom to roam anywhere they want to. From the Penguin Parade Centre, we crossed a wooden bridge and we could see a very beautiful ocean. The wind was very strong, and we were almost frozen stiff (however, we were warmly dressed in our thick down jackets and our long sleeved tshirts. Some of us, like Coral and Gheslynn, were dressed in 6 layers!). At first, we saw nothing, and then, all of a sudden, we saw movement in the water. We were so excited we nearly had a heart attack! Then, even more penguins arrived. They waited for each other before marching together towards their burrows. Sometimes, they would all be standing in a row, waiting for a big wave to come, and when it hit them, they quickly dove back into the water. We think it was because they were too scared to come onto the beach (Wayne thinks they wanted to go surfing). Once we saw the first group of penguins moving, everyone stood up to watch them, because they were so cute! After a few more groups emerged, we stood up and followed some of the penguins home. Luke counted 120 penguins at one site! When we followed them home, we noticed many interesting things. We saw a penguin couple slapping and hissing. At first, we thought they were fighting; in fact, they were greeting each other after a long day at work. The penguins made a lot of noise, which sounded like they were snoring. Actually, they were just communicating with each other!

Let us tell you about a special penguin named Mr Grumpy. Mr Grumpy is a very territorial penguin. When a penguin waddles casually by his burrow, he “scolds” them by making loud noises and scaring the poor penguins away. We saw him standing outside his burrow taking charge of his territory when the penguins were waddling back to the Centre.

Tonight, we also sent you our special surprise. Wait and see what it is! You will probably get it sometime next week. On the way back to our hotel, the P5s sitting at the back sang Justin Bieber songs, Baby and Eenie Meenie. The bus was like a disco!!!
Tomorrow is our second last day. We have mixed feelings. We will miss Australia so much, but we also really want to go home to Singapore. Tell you more tomorrow! Hope you enjoy our personal messages above!!:)

All 35 of us:)

Monday, May 31, 2010

More pictures - Hurrah!

Hi everyone, Looks like we've managed to get more pictures up! Yay! Enjoy! Us in our "luxury travel option" on Kangaroobie farm! (Day 4)

Walking and learning with Mr Peter on the beach at Airey's Inlet
We're all listening carefully..except Yiting who is looking at her hand :D

All together at the river side!

Us with Mr Peter walking along the river at Airey's Inlet on Day 3
Little Chefs Jessalyn and Melody at the Kitchen Garden Programme at Westgarth Primary Sch (Day 2)
Look at the wonderful ingredients we worked with! Us at the Aboriginal Resource Trail, Day 1
Us with Ms Grace at the church on Day 1's it tour.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some pictures from today...

Finally! A few pictures to whet your appetite. More will come later... Bon Appetit! :)

That's us with the steam engine of the Puffing Billy behind us! Can you see the steam?

Mr Yap trying to take a photo of us.

Us in one of the carriages (the others were in another carriage)

Mrs Choy getting us onto the train before it leaves! Choo-choooooo!

Ooh! Here's a picture from the first day, when we had first got off the plane and were at the airport waiting for the bus.

Day 5 - Parrots, Puffing Billy, Platypus, and Pigs

Hi everyone,

Today was fantastic! We did so many things! Then again - we do many things everyday! Hopefully we'll be able to store all these memories in our heads, although if we cannot, there is always the memory card in our cameras to help us :)

In the morning, we woke up extra early to feed the birds. Our bus driver and guide, Mr Eric, said that we should go early, because we would get to feed more hungry birds. Otherwise, other people will have fed them already, and we would not meet as many birds. Feeding the birds was quite scary! We were told to hold our arms out straight with the birdseed on both hands, like a scarecrow. However, when the birds came to land on our arms to feed, some of us flinched because the flapping of the wings was actually quite frightening! Also, many of us had not done this before. After a while, though, we got used to it. Soon, some of us even had three birds feeding from us at once - one on each arm, and one perched on our heads! We had never seen such beautiful birds so close up before. They were so close to us that you could make out each individual feather, and the rainbow of colours on every bird. We met one bird that was a bright red with a royal blue tail, another type that was green but had blue, red, purple and yellow feathers on its chest, and one type that was grey all over but had soft pink feathers near its head. And, of course, we met the cockatoos - the Yellow Crested Cockatoos. They were the biggest and noisiest and heaviest of them all! They were pure white, with a yellow "mohawk" on their heads (which fanned out when they got angry), and a grey beak and legs (with sharp claws attached). They were larger than some of our heads, and their beaks looked extremely powerful and were able to crack nuts at an amazing speed! We could feel our entire arm move downwards when they landed on us. They also scared the smaller, colourful birds away, and soon we found that the whole area was surrounded just by the cockatoos. The birdseed ran out very quickly, and many of us wanted more!

We also got a chance to see the kookaburra being fed. Did you know that it is a carnivorous bird? One of the staff at the cafe was feeding them some meat, and invited us to watch. They are brown and white, and have very big heads compared to their bodies. They swallowed the meat whole! The staff told us they also eat insects and grubs in the forest.

After the birdfeeding, we went for a ride on the Puffing Billy train. It was really cool to be riding on a train that used to transport people and goods (such as mail, fruit, supplies, and wheat) between the towns in the area, a hundred years ago! It is hard to believe that the train tracks were dug by men with shovels and pickaxes, since back then they didn't have big machines to help. Now, the Puffing Billy is just a tourist attraction, but as Jian Feng said, "I can't believe I am riding on a historic train!" The difference between this train and our MRT is that this train runs on coal as it has a steam engine, while the MRT runs on electricity. We could see the steam rising out of the chimney on the first carriage of the train - just like in Thomas the Tank Engine! The train also ran more slowly than our MRT, and the ride was much noisier. However, the air was wonderfully cool and fresh up there in the hills where the train was travelling - natural airconditioning, unlike the MRT! :)

The next stop after Puffing Billy was the Healesville Sanctuary. It is kind of like our zoo, except that the landscape looks much more natural. We saw a lot of native Australian animals - the emu, the platypus, the echidna (which we call the spiny anteater), the kangaroo, the wombat (which was sleeping peacefully in its den), the tasmanian devil (which was running his 1.6km Napfa test around and around his enclosure!), and a whole bunch of reptiles. It is amazing how many different types of animals live in Australia, and only in Australia! Our guide explained that it is because Australia separated from all the other continents hundreds of millions of years ago, so the species got to develop all on their own, and cannot be found anywhere else. Of course, we saw the koalas, who were sleeping peacefully in the trees. It is amazing that even though they were fast asleep, and their bottoms are actually quite wide, they manage to hold on and balance (and do not fall out of their tree-branch-beds!). They really do look exactly like soft toys, with their big fluffy ears.

Finally, after dinner, we met two guest speakers, Mr David Collins and Ms Claire Penniceard. They told us all about the pig farm that Ms Claire owns, which is called the Pig Pen. It is very special because it uses less energy and less water than most pig farms in Australia, but it still produces very good pork! For example, she has invented a type of pig shed that can automatically keep the pigs cool without using air-conditioning (which uses a lot of electricity). It is amazing what we can do with knowledge of Science! Ms Claire told us that the world's population is increasing very quickly, so we need to produce more and more food, but we need to do so in a sustainable way - she explained that it means we need to be able to keep producing food without destroying the Earth.

Ms Claire says that she sends her pork to Singapore, and it is called Airpork! We have heard of that brand before in Singapore, and it is cool that we have met the boss of the farm that produces this pork! Another interesting thing we learnt is that she only sends meat from female pigs to Singapore. She says it tastes different from the meat of male pigs, and Singaporeans prefer the female pigs’ taste. We also learnt a lot about farming today – for example, when we think about the energy that farms use, we cannot just think about what is on the farm. We must also remember to think about all the resources that went into growing the food that is fed to the animals.

What a full day it was! Many of us were very tired by the time we got back to the hotel, but we are full of great memories. In fact, we are all planning a little surprise for our family and friends back home…
Tell you more later!

With big smiles,
All 35 of us.


Dear everyone,

Regarding the lack of photos :(, we tried to upload some tonight but it seems that our little computer and the camera are having a quarrel and refusing to co-operate. So it seems that our descriptions of everything will have to do for now. Bear with us as we try to figure this out!:)

(A quick note from Ms Tham: Writing this blog is a collaborative effort. Sometimes, if we are short on time - and energy - the teachers do the writing, but it is all based on the comments and feelings shared by all in the group as we went through the day. Sometimes, if we have the luxury of time, like on the night at Kangaroobie, the entry is actually dictated word for word by the students themselves. Many of them have contributed some excellent vocabulary for describing their experiences!)

Big smiles,
All of us:D

Day 4 – On the farm, and in the forest

This morning at the farm was SO MUCH FUN!! We did two different activities. First, we went on a big farm tour. Our guide, Mr Matt, said that we will be taking a luxury vehicle around the farm. When we got to it, it turned out that our “luxury vehicle” was a big cage attached to his truck! We all got into the big cage and held on tight as Mr Matt brought us around his farm. It was so much fun, because the big cage rattled as we went up and down the hills of the farm with us in it. Tae Woong said it felt like a rollercoaster. It was quite a cold morning, and the cool wind blasted our faces as we moved quickly along. We saw both wallabies and kangaroos on the farm. Most of the time, we could not get too near, because the sound of the truck would scare them away. However, there was one great big kangaroo hanging out under a tree, and he simply stared at us for a long time.

We got out of the cage to chase the cows. Mr Matt said he needed help to get the cows from one paddock to another, so we formed ourselves into a row, and started making noises and clapping. Even though the cows were soooo much bigger than us, they were afraid of us, and they actually started to move away! We managed to chase them all into the other paddock, although at the end of it, many of us had a lot of mud (and maybe a lot of cow poo) on our shoes. Aiman slipped at one point and managed to get some brown stuff on his sleeve, but he bravely wiped it off on the grass and kept going!

We also got a chance to feed the cows some hay. Again, the cows were quite afraid of us, and would not come get the hay from our hands. We learnt to be very quiet so that the cows would learn to trust us. Actually, it was quite scary having a huge cow come so close to us. Their head alone was as big as half our bodies!
Finally, we got to feed some baby cows, or calves. Mr Matt said that their mothers had abandoned them, so he was looking after them instead. We held up a bottle which had a teat on the end of it, and the calves came and started to suck on the bottle. It was quite hard to hold on to the bottle, because the calves kept pushing upwards on it. Mr Matt said that when they feed from their mothers’ udders, that action helps to release more milk. The fur on the calves was very lovely and soft. We learnt a lot of interesting things about cows today!

The second activity at the farm was a fantastic game called Life and Death. In this game, some of us pretended to be herbivores, carnivores, or diseases. The teachers were the Human Hunters, and they had big water guns! Our instructors released us into a forested area that was 2 and a half acres large, and we could hide anywhere. The herbivores and carnivores needed to get to water stations, but the herbivores needed to hide from the carnivores, and both the carnivores and herbivores needed to hide from the Humans! It was very exciting because some of us hid among the bushes, and managed to go the whole game without being “shot” at by the hunters. Some of us, however, had all our lives taken from us! It was very hard to be completely silent, because every movement we made produced a sound. That was why it was challenging to stay hidden all the time. This activity taught us about what it is like to be an animal in the wild, having to worry about being eaten, and getting water to survive. At the end of it, we were all very sweaty because of all the running around, but we thought it was really fun. :)

Our time at the farm was really fun, but after we had lunch, it was time to leave. We then drove to see the Twelve Apostles, but when we got there, there were only 4 to 5 apostles left! Our bus driver and guide, Mr Eric, said that many of the apostles had collapsed because their bases had been slowly eroded by the waves. Indeed, the waves looked very strong as they crashed into each of the large rock pillars. The scenery there was really very beautiful.

Next, we headed to the Otway National Park to experience the Treetop Walk. The trees there were really tall, especially the tree called the Mountain Ash! Our guide, Ms Kim, said that the Mountain Ash is the world’s tallest flowering species of plant, and they can grow up to 100m. They can grow so big that you could build a stable into the base of the trunk for horses to live in! Sadly, many of the biggest trees had been cut down by loggers, so the trees that are left in the forest are not as tall. Nonetheless, we saw some really huge Mountain Ash trees that were about 60 – 70m tall! We walked along a narrow metal path that was held up by very tall pillars, and we also got to climb up a tower to have a look at the forest from about 40m up in the air. The staircase leading up was really tiring, but we all made it – even those of us who are afraid of heights. Mrs Choy told us later that she thought we had been very brave. Finally, our guide told us about a species of snail that can be found in Otway National Park – we think it was called the Otway Black snail, or something like that :) Anyway, the snail is black all over, and it is CARNIVOROUS, unlike most snails. Ms Kim told us that it eats its prey by inserting a type of acid into the insects it eats, which dissolves their insides. They then suck out the liquid insides. Eeew! Andy managed to spot one of these snails on the way back. They look so small and harmless, we would not have guessed that it actually eats other animals!

Ok we have to sign off now – we are all looking forward to a really interesting day of sight-seeing tomorrow!

With excitement,
All of us:)

Day 3 – A big walk followed by big weeds

Again, it was a very long day, and we did so many wonderful things! Tonight we are staying at the farm, but we will tell you about that a little later, because so much happened in the day before we got here.

We drove up to the Great Ocean Road, and stopped at Airey’s Inlet for a walk around the area with Mr Peter McPhee. At first, we walked along a river near Mr Peter’s house. The water was cold, clean and deep. Mr Peter said, in the middle of the river, it was as deep as twice Mr Peter’s height (that is about 3 metres!). We also went walking along the beach after that. Mr Peter asked us to look out for rubbish on the beach and at the river, because if the fish or animals eat the rubbish, they will suffocate. He brought a plastic bag for us to dispose of the rubbish we found. Dong Wook felt that the people who throw the rubbish only think about themselves (Zichen thinks they are selfish) and don’t care about the environment. The walk along the beach was very exciting! We got to touch the water – it felt very cold. Mr Peter said, in summer, when the water is warmer, he goes body-surfing and swimming in the sea! On the beach, we saw a lot of shells, different types of sponges, and seaweeds. Christopher even picked up a dead crab. The shells on the beach had different shapes and colours, and the sponges were really soft, like jelly. Azreen found a sponge that looked like a bunch of worms! The seaweed was really green, and there was one humongous piece of seaweed that was buried in the sand. Mr Peter said that it was called “kelp”, and it felt very hard and rubbery, like a tyre. It was so heavy, a few of us had to work together to pull it out of the sand. We also saw many mushrooms during our walk. Mr Peter said that the mushrooms which are white in colour are poisonous, while those that are brown are harmless (but we didn’t eat any of them). Some of the mushrooms looked like they had scales on their cap. At the beach, we also saw a few cliffs. Mr Peter said that many many years ago, Aboriginal people lived on those cliffs.

After the walk, Mr Peter brought us back to his lovely home. “We were surprised that we were allowed to wear shoes inside”, says Hannani. The house was very big, and had a big garden that grows different types of fruits. We saw the apple tree. Ms Charlotte told us that they are Golden Delicious apples, and they were bright yellow and very delicious, fleshy, and juicy (many of us tried the apples!). Many of us huddled around the fireplace, watching it, like it was a TV :) We marveled at the flames and the cinders flying around. The firewood that was burning in the fireplace was cut from their garden! Ms Charlotte taught us about how to move the lever on the fireplace to make the fire bigger or smaller. She allowed us to play with the lever. She even threw in some Eucalyptus leaves into the fire – the fire instantly looked as if it was coming out of the mouth of a dragon. We all had pizza for lunch. Mr Peter had to drive all the way out to buy scrumptious pizza for our lunch. We tucked into the food greedily like wolves, and all the food disappeared in minutes! :D
Let us describe the inside of the house to you. The house was made of wood, it was very warm and cosy. The kitchen was quite small compared to the kitchen in our HDB flats, but we think it was cleaner and nicer. There were many interesting books on the bookshelf, some of which were written by Mr Peter and his mother! Mr Peter writes about French History, while his mother wrote children’s stories. In fact, Mr Peter gifted us with 3 children’s storybooks. We think it was very gracious of him, because the books must be quite precious to him, especially since he told us his mother passed away a few years ago.

After lunch at Mr Peter’s house, we went to Queen’s Reserve to help pull out the weeds that are smothering the indigenous (or native) Australian plants. Our guides were Ms Rose and Ms Regina. They taught us which plants to pull out, and how to pull them out. The plants which we were supposed to pull out had small and smooth leaves, and flowers that were yellow in colour. Our guides taught us to hold the plants at the base of the plant, and give it a little jiggle. They said we must be careful not to break the plants at the roots, because if we leave the roots in the soil, the weeds will regrow.

The Primary 5s pulled out 1200 plants in total. We know this because each of us pulled out 50 or more plants, and there were 22 people in that group (including teachers). The Primary 4s did not count how many we pulled, but we knew we cleared the whole patch assigned to us.

Some of the weeds were very firmly and stubbornly rooted to the ground. Sometimes our gloves were too thin and we could feel the plant poking us through the gloves. However, we persevered. We tried to pull them out individually at first, but we found that we could not succeed. So, we worked together as a team. In small pairs, or groups of 3 – 5, we pulled together. The teachers joined us too! We were able to pull out some very big weeds in this way.

After this activity, we felt tired, because we used up all our energy to pull out the weeds. However, we felt happy and satisfied because we contributed to protecting the environment. Mrs Choy said, “I’m so proud of all of you, because you all worked so well as a team, and you were so sporting even though when you began you were all so tired after the long walk on the beach.” “It was very fun pulling out the weeds,” said Coral, and everyone agrees.

After pulling out the weeds, we went to Terry’s Lookout. We saw big waves crashing into the rocks. We also saw a banana skin that somebody had thrown away :( The air was very fresh there, and we could see a huge mountain covered in trees, as well as the winding Great Ocean Road.

We went to a town called Lorne, and on the way, we saw a big arch that had the words “Great Ocean Rd”. Andy said we should call it the “Great Vomit Road”, because he felt bus-sick, as the road was very bumpy and winding (Andy says, “Please don’t worry Mummy, I am feeling ok now!”).

When we arrived at Lorne, we did some shopping. First, though, we went to the toilet, It was unusual because the toilet bowl was made of metal, and it felt very cold :) We saw boomerangs on sale in the shops, and Christopher bought a blue rubbery one. We haven’t tried it out yet, but Mr Helmi did. Mr Helmi said, “Rubber boomerangs can never replace wooden boomerangs – it refused to come back to us when I threw it!” Aliyah says she was looking for clothes for her mum’s birthday. Sharon wants to buy her mum a t-shirt, but she doesn’t know what size to buy (Mrs Yip, if you are reading this, please leave a comment to let Sharon know!) Some of the girls bought ice-cream to eat even though the weather was cold! Maisie’s teeth and mouth turned green after she finished her bubblegum-flavoured icecream. Coral’s hair started to eat ice-cream, too! “It could not resist the colours on the ice-cream” said Wan Shyan.

After shopping at Lorne, we drove for 2 and a half hours on winding roads to Kangaroobie Farm. Everybody on the bus was asleep the whole way. Christopher says he was sleeping under Lukman’s armpit. It was very comfortable. When we arrived, we settled into our rooms and went for dinner. Dinner was some sticky vegetable soup, roast beef, broccoli, cauliflower, corn and peas, and pumpkin. Some people (like Nasuha) thought the pumpkin was yucky, while others (like Sharon), thought it was sweet, juicy and delicious, like sweet potatoes. After dinner, we had an Australian dance party. They called it the Bush Dance. Most of us enjoyed the dance very much. The music was being played on the guitar and drums by our instructors. Siti says, “We were swimming in our own sweat!” because everyone was moving around so much and enjoying the dancing.

It has been a very long day, and we are all going to bed now. Thanks for reading!

With big smiles,
All 35 of us:)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 2: Learning outside the classroom!

Hello everyone!

Thanks for your comments (Note from the teachers uploading this: we will be sure to read out your comments to all the students on our bus journey tomorrow!:) ). We are all doing very well!
WOW – today was a very, very busy day, but we made it through with energy to spare:)

First – we spent the morning at Westgarth Primary School. So many things happened there, so this part is going to be quite long. The Australian students there were so kind and friendly! When we entered their assembly, a group of students played us a few songs on the recorder – they were really good! We also performed our item for them – it was scary, but they clapped for us very loudly, so we must have done alright. Sobi was also interviewed by Ms Tham in front of their assembly, about herself and why she was excited to be there. We all thought she did a great job, especially since must be scary to speak in front of so many strangers from a different country:)

By the way – did you know that they have only 450 students in their school? That includes Prep (like K2) and Grades 1 – 6 (like our Primary 1 – 6). That’s so small, compared to the 1200 students in our school! Everything felt so cosy, and the whole school was decorated in students’ artwork. We also found out that their classes are sometimes made up of students of different ages! For example, some of us sat in on Ms Nettie’s class, and there were Primary 3 and 4 students in her class. She said that it is how they run their lessons for the whole year, and that they do that with their Primary 1 and 2 classes, too! That is very different from Eunos Primary. There were also only about 25 students in her class, while most of us have 40 students in our class. We really liked the small class sizes. Ms Nettie got some of us to do an activity where we thought about the similarities and differences between Eunos Pri and Westgarth – actually, even though there are many differences, there are also many similarities – for example, they have recess too, although during their recess, they play on their own playground (which is very cool!) and then they have lunch break when they eat. We also took part in their Kitchen Garden Programme, where we made our own food. We made Orange cardamom muffins which we got to eat at the end of our visit – they were very delicious! We also saw their garden, which was full of fruits and vegetables – we saw eggplants, lemons, parsley, mint, chives, and even a head of broccoli (did you know that it is actually the centre of the plant, and that it is surrounded by huge leaves? But we only eat the centre, which is the flower.) The principal of Westgarth Primary, Ms Grace Conway, told us that she was so impressed with us, she was going to give us a present that they usually only give to teachers, because we were all like teachers in the classroom and everyone learnt a lot. Now we all have a very beautiful pen with Westgarth Primary School written on it :)

After that, we went and visited CERES, which is a big area where they have many different demonstrations of how we can live sustainably. Mr Ian and Mr Nick explained to us that sustainability means “keeping things going” – and at CERES, they are all about “keeping the Earth going” by educating people on how to use less resources and use different types of energy that don’t consume fossil fuels. We saw an Eco-House, which has many cool features such as solar panels, insulation, and walls which absorb heat. These all help the house to use less energy. For example, the hot water in the house is heated using solar energy (unlike in Singapore where we use electric heaters). We also saw a car that runs only on electricity, and the electricity comes from solar panels too – so the car uses completely renewable energy! Did you know that coal, which we use in power stations to make electricity, takes at least 20 million (and up to 80 million) years to form? So, if we keep digging it up to make more electricity, we will not be able to “keep going” for very long – that’s why looking for sustainable sources of energy is so important.

Finally, we went to the Rethink Education Centre, which is all about recycling. There were two presenters, Organza and Taffeta, who sang songs about why and how to recycle. We had a few “quiz shows”, where they taught us about how plastics, glass, aluminium, steel, and paper are recycled. They also taught us about how to shop wisely to reduce the amount of rubbish we produce. They were so funny! After that, we got to see the actual HUGE machines that sort out all the recycled waste. We walked out onto a platform, where we could see everything. The machines are so noisy!!! They take up a very very big space, and the machines are very tall. They do most of the work, but we also saw some people helping to sort the rubbish. The air also smelt a bit strange in the recycling plant, but of course, since there’s so much rubbish there!

It was a very long day, but we learnt many things. At the end of the day, we all went to a very beautiful Italian restaurant on Lygon St, which the teachers said is a very popular area for Australians to hang out with their friends at. We had our own space on the second floor of the restaurant, and we ate pasta, chicken wings, pizza, and ice cream! Yummy! Then it was back to the hotel.

We have to pack for our trip to the Great Ocean Road tomorrow. Mrs Choy said that it is one of the famous beautiful places in the world, so we’re all very very excited (and we will make sure our cameras are fully charged!). It has been a very long blog entry (and a very long day)…so, goodbye for now!:)

With big smiles from all of us,
The students and staff of Science Alive!
(p.s. Photos are coming! There hasn't been much time to put them up, everything has been so busy!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 1 - We made it!:D

Dear everyone,

It's great to see that we now have... 5 followers!!

Everyone is safe and well, but exhausted after a full day of activities.

The plane ride was great! Many of us had our first plane experience, (including one of our teachers!) but everyone managed it very well. We even had some pupils comment, "It wasn't scary at all!" One of the ladies who processed us at the Australian Customs commented on how well-behaved and polite our students were. "One of the best I've seen," she said.

We began our day with a city tour of Melbourne, with a short visit to Parliament House and a beautiful church. Then it was lunch, and off to the Botanic Gardens we went! We had a really really interesting Aboriginal Resources Trail, where we looked at many plants and learnt about how these plants were useful to the First Australians, as the Aboriginal People are also known. Our guide, Trevor, even involved us in a traditional Welcome Ceremony, which was very special because it involved the burning of several different types of native Australian plants. We also got to smell the lovely Lemon Myrtle leaves, which remind us all of the Lemon-flavoured Strepsils we can find back home. The aboriginal people are really very resourceful when it comes to shopping in Nature's supermarket for all their needs!

Next, we went to International House, which is where some of the university students from the University of Melbourne live. We met many wonderful university students, who ate with us, and played games with us after dinner. In return, we performed our song item (which includes songs in four different languages), and taught them the CIMO-CIMO dance which we learnt in school. Our teachers said that the students told them we were very cute and did a very good job. Everyone had a wonderful time, although by the end of it we were all very tired from a looooong day of activities.

We're all looking forward to tomorrow - we'll get to meet with some Australian students who are our age, and cook with them! Hope to post tomorrow as well! We cannot write much more because our teachers say we must have at least 8 hours' sleep to prepare for a big day tomorrow. Goodnight everyone! Please comment on our post!

With big smiles,
All 30 of us (and the teachers too)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello and Welcome!

Dear Parents and Teachers of Eunos Primary School,

Welcome to the blog of Science Alive! - Eunos Primary School's Learning Journey to Melbourne, 2010.

Our journey will begin as we depart on the evening of 25 May, and end when we return on 2 June.While we are in Melbourne, this blog will be updated once every few days with thoughts and photos from our students. We are very glad to be able to share our experiences with you!

Feel free to post comments and responses to the entries you see here.

Best regards,
The teachers and students on the Learning Journey to Melbourne, 2010.