By Munwarunissa Nazneen
The Jeddah Science Oasis (JSO) is a center of knowledge and “edutainment” located within the spacious Al-Andulus Mall.
JSO is a privately owned recreation center with over 70 scientific exhibits on display and it takes up almost half the mall’s third floor. It exhibits a wide range of interactive hands-on demonstrations to complex animatronics presentations.
Both children and adults are welcome to attend although usually local schools in the city organize educational trips for their children.
The entrance fee for is SR30 per child for children aged between 2 and 12, SR 35 per adult and SR99 for a family of four.
The center also has two separate wings: One displaying dinosaurs and the other robots. Visitors have to pay separate entrance fees for each wing which is SR 25 for adults, SR20 for children and SR 75 for a family. The center is busiest in the afternoon and in the early evening hours.
In the dinosaurs exhibit visitors can witness models of dinosaur fossils and huge animatronics models of dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Ankylosaur, Dilophosaurus, and Velociraptor. A short documentary on the extinction of the dinosaurs is also shown to visitors. After you exit from the huge world of dinosaurs there is a small gift shop, selling dinosaur-themed children’s toys and accessories.
The robotic exhibit displays a variety of scientific disciplines like principles of physics, certain aspects of the human body, properties of air and water, and of course robotic technology.
Children can also have fun watching the “Plasma Globe”, a clear glass orb with beams of light shooting out from its center every time it is touched, and “Ball Trajectory,” which shows how balls travel down different curved tracks.
On a giant weighing scale named “Lift Me Up,” children can easily weigh themselves and don’t worry, it doesn’t break. There is also a cylinder filled with water called the “Vortex” which you spin around until a whirlpool forms, and a fake bed of nails called the “Fakir’s Bed” on which visitors are urged to lie down.
Other interesting scientific displays include the “Age Machine,” which first takes digital photos of visitors and then projects images of them looking either older or younger.
And, if you haven’t seen a twister or a tornado in real life then you can see mini-twisters in JSO being formed in a cylindrical tube every few minutes. Apart from it, there is also a “Blue Screen,” which shows visitors how movie makers employ this special effect.
The highlight of the exhibit is the life-size robot that can speak and move under visitors’ commands. By pressing buttons on the control panel visitors can command the robot to move its head and limbs. From blinking its eyes to making a “thumbs up” sign, the robot is capable of doing all sorts of actions. The robot can also speak in both English and Arabic.
Overall, it is a splendid place to visit with one’s friends or family. The center does not only provide entertainment but also enhances one’s knowledge considerably.