As all three of you dear readers (or not, maybe I’m just yelling into the void that is cyberspace…) may or may not know, I have been working at The Straits Times, which is the national newspaper here in Singapore, as a temp/intern Photojournalist.
I’ve been able to shoot at least two book related jobs and as a result I thought it would be a good idea to feature them here!! Especially since they are both what I would call, “Local Loves”.
Otto Fong & Sir Fong
Otto Fong was a science teacher with an engineering degree up until the age of 39 when he decided to follow the siren song of his true passion, writing and illustrating comics. While he still has his engineering degree, he doesn’t teach children science in person, but through his comics about Sir Fong.
An excerpt from the second volume of Sir Fong’s Adventures In Science series, explaining some of the magical properties of light. [img src: otto fong]
It was such a delight to listen to Otto talk that even after I got the photos I needed, I decided to stay and listen in to the interview as I had no other jobs till later that afternoon. I ended up staying for several hours! But it was worth it. It was so fascinating and incredibly enjoyable to listen to this guy wax poetic about science and science fiction like they were both one and the same. Which is the kind of discussion I can only ever get from my close friends, so this was a real treat to get to hear and engineer and science teacher no less, talk nerdy.
Otto Fong also has one of the most impressive toy/figurine and book collections I’ve seen in person. And I thought my friends and I had pretty impressive collections!!! This guy just blows it out of the park. But in a good way because I wish I could do the same. ONE DAY… ONE DAAAAYYYY….
I also want to mention that his alter ego, Sir Fong, is like a robotic rabbit from the future that wears a cat eared helmet that he said was definetly inspired by Doraemon. Which made me extremely happy because Doraemon is the best robotic cat from the future and all creatures created in his likeness are excellent by default. As far as I’m concerned anyway.
Otto is such a great guy and even though I barely know the guy, I can tell he is truly passionate about teaching the next generation and about getting them passionate about science. I really love finding out about how educators are trying to find new and inventive ways to get kids engaged in learning, especially since these days anything that isn’t comparable to a video game or TV show is not always likely to grab a 10 year olds attention, for example.
I know Christmas/Hanukkah has passed, but Chinese New Year is just around the corner!! So if you know any young children, it might be a cute idea to get them a volume or two of Sir Fong!!
Here is some of the text from the article that was printed and featured below:e.
“The comic addresses the issues that school teachers are unable to in class, for example, ‘why we are studying science’ and ‘what ethical issues are involved’,” he says…
In Volume 4 of Adventures In Science, his alter ego, Sir Fong, time-travels to 2025 to find Singapore’s huge population of 12 million living in a gigantic cube almost as wide as the island itself and as high as the clouds. Inside, modular homes and offices move around efficiently in a Tetris-like manner, minimising wastage of time and energy.
Who knows, he says, one of the children reading about Sir Fong’s adventures might grow up to build just that kind of structure. “The young generation holds the stakes in the future,” he adds.
There are some lessons doled out as well.
In Sir Fong’s world, an overzealous minister of the future destroys all vegetation and wildlife within the cube in the quest to eliminate bacteria and disease. Isolated from nature, people’s immune systems rapidly weaken. When a virus sneaks its way in, eight in 10 people perish.
In real life, when Mr Fong comes across a column of ants making off with stray morsels in his home, he leaves them alone. “They clean up for you and they go away by themselves,” he explains, underscoring the fact that ants play an important role in recycling organic matter in the environment.
With last year’s launch of The Quantum Bunny, Sir Fong’s series went beyond what is taught in the school curriculum.
In the book, readers discover that the humble transistor found in most electronic devices is based on quantum mechanics, and that quantum mechanics could eventually help encrypt electronic messages in a way that is impossible to intercept.
The upcoming sixth volume will do so again, introducing young, inquisitive minds to the cutting-edge engineering techniques used to fabricate artificial biological structures…
And he has high hopes of inspiring the next generation to use science to reach for the stars.
Pointing out that the human mind has the ability to observe and appreciate things much larger than itself, he says: “Our mind is bigger than the galaxy.”
[text source: lin yangchen]