Flight of Wonders
Infant Jesus Homes and Children’s Centres (IJHCC)
Ms Harkiranjit Kaur
Chan Shi Mun (OT member)
Lin Kai Yan (OT member)
Teh Ying Shi (OT leader)
Dates of SL project:
6th to 7th June 2011
Signature of SL Mentor Signature of Team Leader
1. Executive Summary
Flight of Wonders (FOW) was a two-day science and mathematics camp organised for 40
children from various homes under the Infant Jesus Homes and Children’s Centres (IJHCC). It
aimed to brighten up the days of the children and enrich their learning journey by providing
them a diversity of experiences. 15 volunteers were recruited to facilitate the event. In general,
IJHCC provides day care services and residential stay for less privileged children from low
income family or children facing emotional crisis.
On Day One, children from the Oasis, Clementi and Ang Mo Kio IJHCC and our volunteers had a
meaningful ice-breaker session to kick start the day. As the children are from different centres,
our ice-breaker session aimed to help the children to interact with each other and make more
friends of their age. Sudoku, Speed Maths and Money Machine were three segments in the
camp that aim to stretch the children’s capacities and ignite their love for mathematics. To
make the session more interesting, Speed Maths was specially designed with logical, visual, and
mathematical problems, and conducted in the form of competition. The team that came in the
first received a prize. In Money Machine, mental calculation was incorporated under the mask
of a game to engage their interest. Each child was allocated a certain value (5cents, 10cents,
20cents and 50cents) and they were to find others to form a group of ‘money’ that sum up to
the amount required (i.e. called out by game I/C). Having indoors activities for the first half of
the day, we planned a hands-on activity in the afternoon: Building and running a Chem-E car.
The children had had a great time constructing their own car and using vinegar and baking soda
to move it. Beyond mere playing, we also explained the theory behind Chem-E car (Newton’s
third law and basic of chemical reaction) to draw the link between classroom syllabus to real
life and hence fuel greater interest in their studies.
Day Two focused more on science, as evident through the plan of event. In the early morning,
we introduced the children the Theory of Evolution (including Darwinism, the survival of the
fittest and Lamarck’s theory), which is only briefly introduced to the primary 6 students as
‘adaptations’, but is further taught in secondary schools and colleges. To make the lecture more
interesting, we had added engaging videos and short magic tricks which can be explained using
science. The tricks were also shortly explained in the next session ‘Demonstration Time’.
Together with the magic trick, the spinning of eggs to find out whether it is raw or boiled and
the ‘anti-gravity’ cone that move up the separated pair of chopsticks were explain in simplified
terms that they had learnt in primary schools to make learning an easier process for them.
Children also made their own volcano, which had lava flowing out (using vinegar and baking
soda…). To conclude the camp, we organised a two-hour Amazing Race, with stations that
aimed to help the children to internalise the lessons learnt throughout the camp. For example,
station 3 was on the survival of the fittest, but questions were scenario-based and children
were to image themselves as Ash catching different Pokemons from different habitats! Two
stations out of the seven are for team-bonding.
We conclude that the project was a success as the children enjoyed the camp despite the fact
that FOW was very much inclined to academia.
2. Planning & Preparation by Organising Team
The first thing we did was to discuss the theme and come up with a draft proposal. At the same
time we send the synopsis of the programme to various homes. IJHCC gave a favourable reply
and after premature discussions over the email on details such as number of children involved
and the nature of activities, we evaluate the feasibility of the original activities and included
new ones that are more suitable for the age groups of the children at the centre.
On 9th May 2011, we went down to the centre and have further discussions with the personnel
in charge. Through the ensuing discussion we further refine our activities. Some refinements
include cutting down on the duration and difficulty of the evolution lecture, removing blow
wind blow as it was deemed too childish, and reduce the difficulty of the maths puzzles.
Another purpose is to carry out reconnaissance on the venues for the activities, especially
venues for the amazing race, and to request for bulky logistics to be provided by the centre.
We also sourced for sponsorship but as the expenditure and the scale of the programme is not
large enough, we did not have replies from corporations and finally decided to split the cost
After the visit to the centre we met up to carry out the activities ourselves, especially pertaining
to the 2 science experiment, chem e-car and volcano. The initial submarine experiment was
removed as it does not work and was replaced by the chem e-car which has favourable
response from the children. More experiments were included to adhere to the theme of the
Before the June holidays, we held a briefing for the volunteers who signed up to give more
details on the activities, especially the amazing race as they will be station masters for the
games. Briefing and debrief were also held before and after the activities on each day.
3. Description of service objectives and how the objectives are met
We aspired to cater to the needs of the children throughout the camp. As the children at IJHCC
are generally weaker in academics and have shorter attention spans, we tried to structure our
lessons in the way to suit them the best. For instance, during the introduction to the theory of
evolution and the workings of volcanoes, we attempted to make the lessons more interesting
by showing videos, performing magic tricks and providing real lives examples. We also
incorporated more hands-on in the camp. The children were given the chance to design their
own volcanoes and chemically-propelled car in groups using the recyclable materials provided
(eg water bottles, magazines). These activities not only allowed the children learn actively but
also stimulated their creativity. At the end of each activity, there was also a short question-and-
answer session to recapitulate the main concepts learnt. The amazing race was also organised
at the end of the camp so as to allow the children to internalise the concepts learnt throughout
The camp also aimed to cultivate the children’s interests in Science and Mathematics. Many of
the children expressed that the amazing race was interesting even though most of the stations
were based on their syllabus. Most of them also enjoyed activities such as Chemical E-car and
volcanoes. This showed that the objective has been met.
Lastly, it was hoped that through the camp, the children could gain a diversity of experiences
and explore their potential through games and activities. Indeed, activities such as chemical E-
car and volcanoes have been an eye opener for the children as they first learnt how vinegar
reacts with baking soda to produce gas that can propel a car and cause a volcanic eruption. The
interactive lecture on evolution has also introduced the children to some theories on evolution
and the survival of the fittest, thus helping to build on their knowledge in that field.
4. Description of learning objectives for the organising team and how the objectives are
The main learning objective that we wished to achieve was to be able to work as a team to run
a successful event. Indeed, in this camp, everyone played a role and complemented each other.
We split the workload for this camp, including the planning of the activities, briefing for
volunteers, the teaching of the scientific concepts and more. We also seek the help in crowd
management from volunteers. Seeing that the children truly enjoyed and also learned from the
activities that we planned, we can say that the camp was a success.
We also hoped to hone our organising skills and learn to plan in a structured manner.
Throughout the preparation process, we thought of activities that could best suit the children.
To do so, we liaised closely with the staffs at the centre and also met up with them to discuss
our proposal, including the suitability of the interactive activities, the difficulty level of the
Speed Maths problems, the venues for all the amazing race stations and more. In the one
month before the camp, we also met up as organising team at least once a week to discuss and
try out some of the activities. We thought through all the possible challenges that we might
face during the event and came up with solutions.
Learning how to interact with the children and understand their temperaments is also part of
our learning objectives. Some of the children at IJHCC were rather naughty and noisy. They ran
around and refused to listen to our instructions, especially on day one. On the second day of
the camp, we learnt how to be firm with the children. We also learnt from the staffs how to
deal with the children. For instance, we should not have too long a break or preparation time so
as to prevent restlessness from the children. We also altered our programmes to suit their
needs. There was a change in the activities such as volcanoes from Day One to Day Two. Ice-
breaking games were also cancelled on the second day as the children tended to be rowdy
while playing games. Therefore from this event, we have also learnt to be more flexible in
response to unexpected situations.
5. Description of learning objectives for volunteers and how the objectives are met
It was hoped that volunteers could be more sensitive towards the unfortunate and learn to
interact with them. Through the 2-day event, volunteers were able to gain insights on how to
interact with children. This was quite a challenge as they not only had to maintain a friendly
relationship with the children but also establish an authority over the children so that they
would not misbehave. While dealing with some children who were more problematic, the
volunteers had to be more firm and patient when asking them to settle down. As the children
come from different races, including Indians, Malays and Chinese, interacting with the children
has rendered the volunteers to be more tolerant of cultural differences and become more
empathetic towards the less fortunate.
Volunteers also demonstrated care and concern to the needy as they took care of the welfare
and safety of the children throughout the camp. They also tried very hard to ensure that the
children benefited as much as possible from the camp.
6. Reflections & Feedback from organising team, volunteers and participants
6.1. Reflections by the organising team
Chan Shi Mun (10S7B)
I would say my greatest takeaways from organizing the Flight of Wonders (FOW) are flexibility
and communicating skills.
Too sporadically, I have been praised of my ahead planning skills and organization, which, is
due to my apprehension of the uncertainty yet-to-be-faced. Such a characteristic is a double-
speared sword; I like everything to be under my control and planning, but when things go the
wrong way, anxiety emanates and uptightness envelopes my critical thinking. Being incapable
of solving unpredicted problems and thinking critically on the spot has always been my Achilles’
Nevertheless, this short but meaning 2-day experience had honed my critical thinking skills and
increased my flexibility in terms of planning. When the children are out of control (which
happened frequently), we quickly came out with ways to attract their attention. For my part, I
had to change the style and content of my 1 hour lecture on Evolution. To make it more
interesting, I added more interactive programmes (e.g. I included Hazid—one of the noisiest
boy there—in my presentation) and my team mates suggested including demonstrations and
small magic tricks in between the lecture, which had proven to be effective in crowd control.
Overall, organizing such an event is enriching in that I can effectively utilize my soft skills and
hone my critical thinking skills.
Lin Kai Yan (10S7H)
It had been two days of excitement—and weeks of planning –that we have been in. Throughout
the process, we have let a simple idea mature into a feasible plan and have worked together.
Knowing one another prior to the planning allow us to have a better understanding of the
working style, and work out the most efficient way to complete tasks at hand. There is hardly
any conflict regarding the collection of logistics and distribution of tasks.
Planning for every detail does matter, that is what I came to discover during this SL. We have
many meetings to meet up and try out the activities and hands-on activities to make sure that
they worked as expected. One of the hands-on, the submarine, had failed miserably when we
tried it out before the event, which we promptly changed to a much more successful
‘volcanoes’, removing the potential obstacles to a successful event. Furthermore, it is also
important that the activities chosen would interest the children. Some of the receptions of the
activities were less warm as compared to others. Although the camp is science and math based
and hence assumed to be academic-based, we have tried to make it more interesting and cater
it to their short attention span. Our group mate’s lecture on Evolution, a topic that we only
start to learn in H2 Biology, is delivered in a way that captures the attention of the children and
delivers the content at the same time.
Another valuable lesson learnt is in dealing with children. More specifically, the more
mischievous children who express a lack of interests in the activities planned and are always
looking for trouble. During breaks our ‘headquarter’ where we placed all out laptops and
logistics are constantly under attack of these children who asked to play with games on the
computer, just for an example. I have learnt to be patient yet firm with them, letting them
know the limits and when they have cross the limits. Like what the personnel in charged had
told us, these children are merely ‘testing water’ and see how far they can get away with a
behavior. Once we let them know that we do not tolerate this kind of behavior, they would
stop. As one who is not quite exposed to handling children, this event helped me to understand
their mentality and interact with them more naturally.
Being part of the three-people group of the organizing team, I’ve also learnt to disseminate out
information to volunteers clearly and precisely to prevent miscommunication. A slight
miscommunication occurred towards the end of the first day, where we swapped the events on
day one and day two around, as the children are getting restless. The group leaders were not
alerted to this fact and hence give out incorrect information to the children and lead to some
disappointment. Although no lasting harm is done, it would be better if we have thought of
telling group leaders of the minor changes to prevent the false hopes.
All in all, this SL had enriched me and let me gained another experience in event organizing,
from the pre-event planning, record-keeping and musing over little details, to the actual event
where there is hardly any time to think and prepare. However, in the end, it is still an rewarding
journey that I would not hesitate to embark on again.
Teh Ying Shi (10S7B)
Organising a camp for primary school children had been a whole new yet rewarding experience
for me. Such experience has benefited me greatly and has allowed me to grow as an individual
as well as a leader.
This service learning (SL) project has given me the opportunity to lead and organise a camp.
From planning the activities, reviewing the activities, to holding the event and working with all
the volunteers and children, I have certainly acquired many skills, especially organising and
managerial skills. Before the camp, the organising team had worked very hard to plan for all the
activities in the camp. In the 3-month long preparation process, we first devised a series of
activities that we wished to organise for the children for both days of camp. After discussing the
proposal with the staffs, we further fine-tuned the programmes to tailor them to the needs of
the children. Throughout the planning process, we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of the
children and kept thinking of the activities that we would wish to be involved in when we were
in primary school. At the same time, we had to keep in mind of their learning abilities while
planning for interactive lessons. As can be seen, even before the actual event, we have learnt to
better empathise with them. It was indeed a challenge for us to plan activities that could suit
the children the best when we were not given the chance to interact with the children before
the camp but could only learn more about them through the event coordinator at the centre. In
spite of this, we were glad that our efforts paid off as everyone who had been involved in the
camp, be it a primary school kid or a volunteer, has benefited greatly from it.
In the beginning of the camp, we were apprehensive that the children would not be responsive
and be actively involved in all the activities we have planned for them. However, our worries
have proven to be unfounded after the first ice-breaker game – double whacko. In contrary to
being shy, the children were rather open to all the volunteers. Some of them were also noisy
and boisterous. In response to such unexpected situation, we have learnt to be more flexible in
organising an event. For instance, on the first day of the camp, we realised that the children
had become too restless after the science experiment on Chemical E-car, we decided to shift
the making of volcanoes from the first day to the second day. We also replaced the ice-breaker
games with other activities on the second day after realising that the children have already
known one another well enough and that having more games would only make them even
Of course, we not only had to be flexible with the time schedule, we also had to be flexible in
dealing with the children. The children came in different shapes and characters, we therefore
had to crack our brains to think of ways that could suit each of them. For children who were
less obedient, we have learnt to be more firm with them as they were generally testing our
limits as mentioned by the staffs at IJHCC. It was heartening to see that a mischievous child
actually apologised for his misdemeanours and learned from his mistakes. During the camp, we
also managed to settle disputes between the children along with the help of the staffs. After
the camp, I have learnt to interact with the children better and also developed my
interpersonal skills especially as we dealt with people of different personalities. I have also
become more tolerant of children.
Being involved in organising the camp Flight of Wonders was truly a fulfilling experience. The
camp was an enjoyable and diverse learning journey not only for the children but also for the
organising team and all the volunteers. Most importantly, after the two days of interacting with
the children, we have forged strong friendship with the children.
6.2. Feedback from volunteers
We collected feedback on FOW camp from volunteers via Survey Monkey and a summary of the
responses is presented below.
All volunteers who responded to the survey felt that the event was a meaningful experience as
they have learnt how to communicate with children, thus improving their interpersonal skills.
As for the organisation of the event, some suggested that instructions and details on the camp
could have been provided to them beforehand but not on the day of the camp itself. Some of
the activities planned might also be too advanced for the children. This made it hard for them
to stay focused. Besides, more efforts should also be made to introduce the different groups of
children together so that they could mingle around instead of just staying in their own groups.
The volunteers have benefited greatly from the camp. Below are some of the responses
collected from the volunteers on their takeaways from the event.
I feel more appreciative for being able to spend time with my family members cause i have
learnt from some of the children that they only get to spend time with their family during
the weekends. Also, I am now more tolerant and have a deeper understanding of the
different races and their cultures as not many opportunities are given in school to interact
with other races. Lastly, I have learnt that because every child is different and unique,
different approaches must be used when interacting with them and it is definitely not a
"one size fits all" solution. Hopefully this camp helps improve my interaction skills with
Learnt to be more patient with children
How to interact with people of different backgrounds and to appreciate what I have.
DAY 1 (6th June)
Group interaction time
Playing Sudoku – volunteers guiding the children
Chemical E-car: Explanations to the principles behind it
Chemical E-car: Building the car
Chemical E-car: Adding chemicals to propel the car
DAY TWO (7th June)
The amazing race
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