First virtual chemistry lab table in PH unveiled at Mind Museum

By Espie Angelica A. de Leon

Kids can now get a headstart on their chemistry lessons in a fun environment without spilling chemical substances or causing explosions as the Virtual Chemistry Lab Table takes its place among other interactive and technology-infused installations inside The Mind Museum in Taguig City.

The Philippine office of chemical supplier BASF, in partnership with the science museum, unveiled the virtual lab table at the Atom Gallery on August 16, which also marked BASF’s 55th anniversary in the Philippines.

The first of its kind in the country, the virtual chemistry table uses basic tabletop and touchscreen technologies. Through digital simulation and intuitive tangible interaction, it educates museum visitors about chemical reactions and how chemistry affects our day to day lives by providing man’s basic conveniences.

The tabletop comes with substance cards, reacting cards, and tool cards. These cards are labeled as water, heat, sugar, iodine, magnesium, thermometer, molecular, safety, and other chemical elements, scientific equipment, and concepts.

To use the virtual chemistry table, pick a substance card such as the one labeled water and place it on the tabletop. Then pick a reacting card such as the one labeled heat and put it on the table as well. With both cards on the table, text will appear explaining the chemical reaction that will result from water and heat. Meanwhile, the tool cards provide additional information.

Thus, the Virtual Chemistry Lab Table is a modern tool by which museum visitors may perform “digital science experiments”, making the activity safe and fun for everyone. Experiments performed digitally do away with explosions and other accidents which may happen inside a physical laboratory.

“This is one of the basic chemistry lessons that you can give to kids because a lot of people think it’s very scary, it’s something difficult,” said Michelle Santos of BASF Philippines corporate affairs division. “But with the table, we show elementary to high school-age kids, even parents, [that] there are ways to learn chemistry in a safe environment.”

The innovation also serves to encourage more young Filipinos to enter the STEM fields and become scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.

“The earlier you expose children to science and technology (S&T), the more you can get young people to be more  interested in S&T and therefore increase the probability that more people are going into this discipline and finding new ways and solutions to problems we are facing right now,” said BASF Philippines managing director Ronald Mercado.

According to The Mind Museum’s curator Isabel Garcia, the Virtual Chemistry Lab Table was developed by South African-based Formula D Interactive, a company composed of scientists and engineers who work for the exhibits space using virtual reality, augmented reality, and infrared technology.

The group worked on the virtual table in collaboration with the science museum and under the sponsorship of BASF as part of the latter’s social engagement initiative dubbed BASF Kids’ Lab.

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