Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Selesaikan Kod Rahsia Ini!

Ketahui rahsia 'Caesar Cipher'

Cetak dan gunting rajah di bawah dan cuba untuk selesaikan kod rahsia berikut. Selamat mencuba!

Karnival Matematik 2017 di Petrosains Playsmart kini kembali!
Ikuti pautan di bawah untuk sebarang maklumat terkini dan aktiviti-aktiviti yang dijalankan sepanjang Karnival Matematik di Playsmart!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Tick Bite = Forced Veganism?

What if I told you that you couldn’t eat your favorite beef rendang during Hari Raya? From extravagant medium rare steaks and even a simple cheeseburger. All in reach definitely but for the victims or the Lone Star Tick…they are playing a game of Russian roulette with each bite that just might be their last.

The Lone Star tick
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Throughout history, ticks have always been the natural enemy of all blood bags both cold and warm blooded ones. Ticks are a parasitic vector for many diseases such as Lyme disease, spotted fever, tick paralysis and now an allergy inducer towards red meat or more specifically: the Alpha-gal sugar compound found within.

A man suffering from Alpha-Gal allergy
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Spotted fever victim
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Don’t let its women empowering worthy name of Alpha-Gal to fool you though, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center: the allergy can cause swelling, hives, breathing problems, a drop in blood pressure or even anaphylactic shock after eating red meat or dairy.  This can be rather troublesome and dangerous because the symptoms do not appear immediately but rather within 8 hours or so.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Although there is no cure, medication such as epinephrine which is a first line treatment for anaphylaxis shock that has saved many from being rushed to the ER or worst, an excruciating death. Now the question on everybody’s mind, how exactly does a small tick bite cause an allergic reaction towards red meat?

Epinephrine pen
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inside the saliva of ticks contains Alpha-gal which once transferred to a human body, our immune system will identify them as harmful external substances and thus create antibodies to help protect the system. Unknowingly causing a bigger problem for us in the long run.

To all the vegetarians out there who think you're fine just because you don't worship meat like the rest of us, think again! Your everyday products could be a possible seizure waiting to happen if they contain ingredients such as dairy, animal fats and gelatin. In other words, chocolate, ice cream, marshmallows, cheeses and even several medicines such as tetanus and even gelatin based tablets will cause an allergic reaction.

Goodbye hot cocoa cups with marshmallows
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This strange problem was discovered several years ago in the East Coast of the United States which has been rapidly spreading alongside the increasing number of unwilling converted vegetarians. These pesky little creatures thrive in grassy and humid areas, something where we in Malaysia are known for. Although ticks can’t swim, all it takes is a single ‘accident’ to change our entire way of life. #TickAboutIt


Glossary of terms
Russian Roulette: The practice of loading a bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spinning the cylinder, and then pulling the trigger while pointing the gun at one's own head.

Vector: An organism an organism, typically a biting insect or tick, that transmits a disease or parasite from one animal or plant to another.

East Coast: The eastern seaboard of the US, especially the narrow corridor from Boston to Washington, DC.


Shared by David Mok
Guest Blogger

Friday, 30 June 2017

Integrating Creative Drama Into Science

Once, there was a saying, ‘If you are an artist, learn science. If you are a scientist cultivate art.’ Science and arts are just like a reflection of each other in the mirror because both are human attempts to understand and describe the world. In spite of the difference in equipment and terms, science and arts exist to change our perception of the world.

In Petrosains, we believe that the communication process of science can be further enhanced by introducing artistic elements. Hence, Petrosains had started the partnership with Science Centre Singapore as the Malaysian organizer for the International Science Drama Competition. This competition is an annual event whose main objectives include promoting science through drama. It involves teams from primary schools in Singapore, Malaysia, China and the Philippines.

At the Malaysian level, the Science Drama Competition was organized by Petrosains in partnership with KDU University College, EduNation and Association of Science and Technology (ASTI). As a partner, KDU University College had conducted a science drama boot camp at KDU University College, Glenmarie as well as providing mentoring assistance to the top 10 participating teams prior to the competition. Meanwhile, EduNation provided online support for the competition and ASTI reached out the schools to encourage participation in this competition.

The Malaysian Finals was held at Petrosains, The Discovery Centre on May 13th, 2017 with all top 10 teams from all over Malaysia competing to be the top 3 teams to represent Malaysia at the international finals. In commemoration with 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the theme of this year’s International Science Drama Competition was ‘Sustainable Tourism’.

The theme can be simply defined as an industry which attempts to make a low impact on the environment and local culture while at the same time providing assistance in generating income, employment, and conservation of local ecosystems.  Each team were required to present a short drama about 7 minutes with science and drama content based on the theme.Each team’s performances were judged based on scientific content, cast performance, overall presentation, and creativity.

Team Dragon Rangers from SK Bandar Baru Bangi emerged as the first place winner in their performance, Creatures from the Depth, which emphasized on responsible tourism. Meanwhile, team Matrix Private School who won the second place with their skit, The Missing Malayan Tiger stressed the importance of protecting and conserving wildlife.  The third place winner, Team Tempe! decided to focus on food preservation and encouraged support towards local delicacies through the culinary tourism in their drama, Microbes: The Good and Bad Side.

The top 3 teams represented Malaysia in the Grand Finals in Singapore on June 3. The Grand Finals was held at Science Centre Singapore. Team Dragon Ranger of SK Bandar Baru Bangi clinched the second prize with SGD400 of prize money and also the Outstanding Performer Award at the Grand Finals in Singapore. On the other hand, the other two Malaysian teams; team Matrix Private School and Team Tempe from SK Pekan Nenas each won a  Merit Award. Both teams received SGD100 each. 

Overall, the International Science Drama Competition 2017 has met its objective; to promote science through drama. All teams not only managed to leave with newfound knowledge and appreciation towards sustainable tourism but also gain invaluable acting skills and understanding of the beautiful art of drama. 

Shared by Celine Woon
Guest Blogger

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Science Behind Cooking: What Actually Makes Food Brown?

Taken from Google Images

Ever wonder why your meat patties in your Ramly burgers taste charred and seared? Or the GSC popcorn you just bought have toasty, cracker-like flavors? Why does your cup of Starbucks hot coffee taste robust and aromatic?

Has it ever crossed your mind that what made these food taste out of the world? How do these food whose original forms aren’t that appetizing become so irresistible after being cooked? Where do they get the golden-brown like colour?

Turns out, it is all due to a certain chemical reaction recognized as Maillard reaction. Maillard reaction is named after the French chemist, Louis-Camille Maillard who discovered it in 1912. In layman terms, Maillard reaction is known as the browning reaction. Basically, it is a chemical reaction between amino acids and simple sugars in food which then leads to the formation of brown colour.

A photo of Louis-Camille Maillard
(Taken from Google Images)

During the process, simultaneous chemical reactions occur when amino acids and simple sugars in the food are transformed by the heat applied. Hence, the reaction forms brown pigments in a specific way where amino acids and simple sugars are arranged in rings. These rings reflect light in a way which gives the brown colour to the food.

The diagram above demonstrates the process of Maillard reaction 
(Taken from Google Images)

For Maillard reaction to occur, you need to apply high heat to the food. The heat required should be high enough (more than the boiling point of water, 100°C). High heat will dehydrate the surface and remove enough moisture to allow rapid Maillard reaction. Upon reaching more than 149°C, Maillard reaction starts to form the brown colours and emits nice aromas. 

Apart from that, water should be absent as water will not get hotter than the boiling point. Hence, this explains why food fried in oil are able to brown since oil has a higher boiling than water.
In the food industry, Maillard reaction is normally used in the browning of meats for steak and gives the umami taste in fried onions. It is also widely used in roasting coffee and creating crust in baked products such as bread, pies, and cookies. The process also takes place in making malted barley and chocolate. Without Maillard reaction, our favorite French fries and chips will not have the mouth-watering golden brown color and crunchy texture.

Before trying out the Maillard reaction, do remember that raising the temperature even higher than  180 °C will lead to the start of a completely different reaction which is pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is a dangerous reaction which causes food that is charred to be bitter and cancerous.

 So, the next time you dig into your food or begin cooking, say your thanks to Maillard reaction as without it, your food will never taste the same again!

To speed up Maillard reaction, do follow the tips below.

1. Dry the meat before cooking. 
You can either dab it with a towel or air-dry the meat. Or you can salt the meat in advance for more than 45 minutes or an hour. This is because salt draws out the moisture and salty brine is reabsorbed. Hence, the meat is more tender. 

This happens when meat has undergone Maillard reaction. It looks juicy and inviting
(Taken from Google Images)

2. Use fast heating 
If you are running out of time, you may opt for fast heating. Use deep fryers or blowtorches to speed up the Maillard reaction. 

3. Coat the food with flour
Maillard reaction requires simple sugar and starches break down in the presence of heat to simple sugar. Therefore, starches will be able to provide more materials (in this case, sugar) for the reaction to occur. 


Nathan (March 20,2013) The Maillard Reaction. Retrieved from

Schulze,E. (April 2017) What is Maillard Reaction. Retrieved from

Wikipedia (n.d) Maillard Reaction. Retrieved from

Shared by Celine Woon
Guest Blogger