Last year (Dec 2016) we were invited to a science workshop held by 3M at their office premises in Yishun. It was the Young Wizards Science Camp. If you have not heard of 3M you might be living under a rock, but even there under the rock, you are probably using some product that is made by 3M since they have a product portfolio of a staggering 55,000 products!!
The session started with a tour of the 3M Customer Techincal Centre, which consists of around 15 showroom areas to showcase their technology. From energy management solutions, to personal safety solutions, medical equipment and of course, what many of us are most familiar with, household goods and STATIONERY. Can I just say I love the smell of Post-it Notes?
‘Fess up, who has ever bought non 3M-products because they were cheaper than 3M? Well we learnt a bit about the quality of their products, for example, in their kitchen sponges, each fibre of the scratchy part is individually coated with abrasive, so the sponge can continue to be effective even after long use. Other brands might simply sprinkle abrasive powder on the finished product so once this is worn away the sponge is much less effective and basically just a rough sponge.
This experiment illustrated that although competitor products might be cheaper, you can be assured that 3M products are of superior quality, and the idiom 一分钱一分货 is so apt to use here. Literally it means, one cent money is one cent product. So, you pay what you get for.
It was a very fun and interesting tour! The 3M Customer Techincal Centre is almost like a science centre and in fact it is even better than some parts of our aging Science Centre. There is a set up with scaffolding, for their construction related products; a small area with a few commercial aeroplane seats, because they make the glue that sticks the floor carpeting on those planes; some glass with super hot lights to show UV blocking solar film; a toy car with a small brush head that will shine a 20cent coin for you to show the quality of the bristles; and… too much to mention.
We were all impressed at the various setups.
To show their reflective technology, they had a road set up, where we could turn off the lights and use a torch to shine onto the road signs, and other places where the reflectors are used. Do you know that in Singapore all road signs are using 3M technology? That is because the Land Transport Authority (LTA) insist on the best material. And even the triangle P-plates too.
At one of the stations we also examined the humble 3M Post-it Note. Have you noticed how other brands of sticky notes just don’t seem to have the same feel? Some don’t peel off well, or peel off and then it’s curvy and doesn’t stick properly on the surface that you want, or aren’t sticky enough, or… And none of them have that amazing Post-it Note smell. Our guide explained to us that different glue have different properties, such as in Post-it Notes, they employ (or respond to?) a tear action, not a pull action.
Try putting 2 Post-its in this manner and see if you can pull it apart. Must be Post-it OK, if it is not, please don’t complain that the experiment failed.
The 3M Customer Technical Centre was a wonderful experience for the kids, to be able to look at every day products in a different manner, and to get the kids to think about how things work. The centre is definitely worth revisiting!
We returned to the meeting room for the last part of the workshop, where we had to build our own rocket and compete against other teams.
We were given some materials, mostly 3M, and asked to make rockets that could move and compete against other teams’ rockets. In short, the rocket had to propel.
They were also given opportunities to present the rockets.
Although the kids were a little too young for the task of building the rocket, we tried to get them to think about it and tasked them to help in putting it together or decorating it. I thought we did well in the race, so I hope the kids were impressed with their parents (ahem) for thinking up the design.
3M employ around 1600 people in Singapore across business and manufacturing functions, making them one of the largest MNC employers. So if you like to support local products, actually buying 3M products in a way is supporting the local economy!
And if they ever organise any science camps for kids again, you should definitely not give it a miss!