Two strangers in lab coats stand in the middle of a crowded mall. Behind them are a full set of laboratory reagents and a gigantic, cartoony Albert Einstein mascot. One of them pulls a random shopper out from the crowd and lights her arms on fire; amazingly enough, the person feels nothing. The scientists captivate their audience with a series of experiments, the kind you wouldn’t normally see in a public place. To cap off their performance, they combine a few simple-looking ingredients to create a massive “thundercloud explosion” — a move that earns them equally thunderous applause.
Think they’re insane? Actually, they prefer “nutty.”
Meet the Nutty Scientists
Founded in 1996, the Nutty Scientists program has established its presence in over 40 countries worldwide. “[Nutty Scientists] is a STEAM-based education program that aims to teach science in a fun and interactive manner,” explains Ronald Lee, the franchise owner of Nutty Scientists in the Philippines. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math — and since Nutty Scientists Philippines’ launch in October 2017, it has been Ron’s job to localize, promote, and develop the program to get Filipino audiences interested in these five key learning areas. “Our target audience is comprised of kids 3 years old and up, along with their parents and grandparents,” shares Ron.
The Nutty Scientists Philippines team has two other core members. Juan Carlos Guanzon, previously affiliated with Nutty Scientists Dubai, is the team’s lead science communicator. Juan is in charge of their scientific shows in public venues with large crowds. Meanwhile, education major and LET passer Ethel Mae Ramos handles school workshops. Ethel employs fun and interactive techniques to communicate science lessons to schoolchildren.
The Nutty Scientists team is guided by their mission of encouraging student participation, inciting scientific curiosity, and making learning fun. What sets the Nutty Scientists style apart from the traditional ways of teaching science is its bold and spectacular approach. “We capture the students’ attention at the start of the topic through a demonstration, and allow them to discover the science behind it through hands-on experimentation and activities. We also continually conduct research and development to keep the topics and experiments fresh for the kids.”
A daring decision for a mad mission
To focus on Nutty Scientists, Ron left the engineering-based company where he had worked for 11 years. He also felt that local engineers weren’t as recognized or supported as lawyers or doctors here.
Ron describes his career change as “going back to [his] passion”: science. “I hope to remove the stigma of science being a difficult subject, [so] that our students will choose to pursue a career in STEM once they reach the higher education levels. This would hopefully lead to more localized inventions and innovations, thereby creating industries that would provide jobs and prevent our countrymen from having to seek employment outside the country.”
Nutty Scientists workshops cover a wide range of science topics, from chemistry and physics to life and earth sciences. “For our scientific shows, we tackle all sorts of topics, from air pressure to chemical reaction, even extreme temperatures!”
In addition to mall shows, the Nutty Scientists team also offers school workshops, summer camps, and even birthday party shows.
The team conducted a mall show at SM North EDSA last June 9 and 10, which focused on a series of experiments with liquid nitrogen. They ended their demonstration by pouring hot water into a tank of liquid nitrogen, resulting in an explosive (and impressive) burst of ice. “I believe that we are the first team to conduct such an experiment in a public place,” proclaims Ron proudly. “If that didn’t get your attention and incite your curiosity towards science, nothing will!”
According to Ron, pushing science to the masses has been quite challenging. However, the Nutty Scientists team is just getting started. “In the future, I hope to find like-minded individuals that can help me bring the program to the far reaches of the country, eventually having the program available in all corners of the Philippines.”
For now, Ron and the team are busy preparing Halloween and Christmas surprises for fans and audiences of all ages. “It never ceases to amaze me how much fun the adults also have when they see how amazing science can be.”
Follow Nutty Scientists Philippines on Facebook (click HERE) for updates on their next public shows and details on their school workshops, summer camps, and birthday packages.
Author: Mikael Angelo Francisco
Bitten by the science writing bug, Mikael has years of writing and editorial experience under his belt. As the editor-in-chief of FlipScience, Mikael has sworn to help make science more fun and interesting for geeky readers and casual audiences alike.