A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Even though I am a Humanities student, I have always addressed myself as a science geek. It all started when I was in kindergarten. A lot of girls around my age were playing with Barbie dolls and cooking sets, but I was not one of them. My parents and grandparents bought me toy set of small wooden planks with many shapes instead, so I could unleash my imagination by building houses, skyscrapers, or bridges. Too bad, when I was in high school, my grades were not sufficient to get to the Natural Science stream. I had promised myself back then that I wanted to study engineering (especially architecture) if I managed to get to the Natural Science stream, but I didn’t. So with that, I turned off my dream of becoming an architect.
That doesn’t mean I stop myself from loving science. I have come to realize that I love buildings, structures, and how things were made. If you feel like you relate to my story, you better get yourself to Science Center NEMO.
Science Center NEMO is located precisely 700 meters away from Amsterdam Centraal. The building is very unique, because it is shaped like a very big ship. At first, I thought that it was only the place for physics experiments, similar to a science center in my country, but I was wrong. Science Center NEMO is the house for every science possible; from physics, engineering, architecture, mathematics, energy, biology, astronomy, even psychology. How cool is that?
There are five floors inside the building. The first floor is dedicated to physics experiments. Here, we can try out some simple experiments about light, sound, reflection… basically what you learned in basic physics in middle school. When I came there yesterday, there were a temporary exhibition about astronomy and some of the materials being displayed were on loan from Leiden’s Museum Boerhaave.
The second floor was my personal favorite. This floor is dedicated to everything you want to know about engineering, be it civil engineering and architecture. There is also a section for maths and shapes, as well as a section talking about energy and water engineering. This is the coolest floor because I get to experiment with buildings and bridges again! Luckily I had my friend with me, a fellow Leiden student who used to study Physics Engineering, and he understood some of the civil engineering materials so he taught me a few. It is so fun to play again with these buildings and constructions and knowing the science behind it. Also, on this floor they have a miniature of a factory, where you can play as an importer/exporter of goods. There is also a build-a-dam simulation, as well as education about water.
The third floor and the fourth floor is all about human biology, astronomy, and psychology. Yes, they incorporate psychology in this science center (social psychology to be exact), and I cannot be more happier. They also have a few experiments on how the brain works, some computers to test your mini-IQ and your learning style, as well as a small booth about sex and puberty. It is very interesting how they can communicate to the visitors, especially to pre-teens and teenagers, about puberty and the body change as well as about sex. Here, sex is not a taboo subject, instead people are encouraged to learn about it. I giggled when I saw a bunch of condoms on display… maybe because in my home country, sex education is still being taught at schools and not in a science center.
My trip to Science Center NEMO was a very fun one, and I encourage you to visit it once in your lifetime. It is a place where you can release your inner child-like curiosity and to explore everything you need to know about science. Oh, have I told you that the entrance ticket is free for Museumkaart holders? So, what are you waiting for? The world of science is waiting for you!
*Sorry for no-picture post because I lost all my chills inside the science center, hence I did not think to take any pictures at all*