Have you ever had the cool experience of having a butterfly land on you?
Well now you can, thanks to the new Butterflies Up-Close exhibition at Science Centre Singapore.
Spanning 600 sq metres and divided into five different zones, the permanent exhibition is a joint project with Sentosa’s Butterfly and Insect Kingdom. It guides visitors through the metamorphosis of a butterfly – from egg to adulthood.
Then complete the experience in the vivarium, which houses over 500 butterflies that fly freely within the enclosure.
It’s a shame that limited exposure to the outdoors has kids cringing away from insects rather than getting closer out of inquisitivity, says Chief Executive Professor Lim Tit Meng.
That’s why Science Centre is counting on these creatures to inspire “ooohs” of curiosity instead of “ahhhs” of fear in kids.
The exhibition opens on April 30, and is best for kids aged three and up. Find it in Hall D of Science Centre Singapore. Tickets are $10 each. Visit http://www.science.edu.sg/exhibitions/Pages/ButterfliesUp-Close.aspx
The highlight of the exhibition is undoubtedly the 215 sq metres indoor vivarium where visitors can take a leisurely stroll while hundreds of butterflies flutter freely above and around them. It can accomodate roughly 50 to 60 people at one time.
Keep still and they might even land on you. Did you know – it’s your scent that attracts them. We’re told that they’ll especially like you if you’re sweaty.
Also pop into the Research Pod in the centre of the enclosure to see butterfly anatomy under microscopes, learn more about how their vision works, and check out how their wings interact with light to give off their brilliant shimmers.
And if you’re wondering why some of the butterflies in here rest with their wings open – well, it’s because they’re cold-blooded creatures. So fanning their wings out lets them warm up in the sun.
Remember, safety (both your kid’s and the butterflies’) is always important, so remind your children not to chase or try to catch the butterflies. If you want to hold one, just catch the attention of one of the guides. They can help you get a butterfly onto your finger, shoulder, ear, or even your nose. Heads up, though – it tickles a fair bit.
These giant fiberglass replicas are painted with careful detail, to let visitors compare the differences between butterflies and moths. For example, you can see how the moth rests with its wings flat, while the butterfly’s are folded.
Check out this giant replica of a Plain Tiger Caterpillar. The model shows the various parts of the critter, including its legs and the sticky pads that help it cling better to leaves and branches. And yes, it’s strong enough to support Junior’s weight, so have him climb up on it for a photos if he isn’t too busy exploring all the other stations. Also pop over to the live caterpillar tank, where you might find some real caterpillars munching on the leaves of a plant. If you look carefully, you might spot some eggs, too. They’re usually laid on the underside of leaves.
How do caterpillar protect themselves from predators? Some play it safe by blending into their environment – taking on various shades of brown or green. Others go the bold with bright colours to scare off other creatures. This station lets kids get creative while dressing up the caterpillar.
Learn about how insects have evolved over time – from primitive and wingless creature to the winged ones you encounter today. Other interesting stations are the caterpillar eggs, cool embossing stations where the kids can stamp butterfly reliefs on their paper or notebook, the caterpillar race, and close-up renderings of butterfly wings. Did you know they’re actually made up of tiny scales that reflect light to give off those bright colours?
How cool is this giant piece of art? Even cooler: it’s made of real butterfly wings – collected after the butterflies end their life cycles naturally. There are roughly 4,000 wing pieces here, from about 28 different butterfly species.
(Photos of Vivarium and exhibition staff: Science Centre Singapore; all other photos: Young Parents)