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I’ve just got back from the 2011 International Biology Olympiad. Our team did well – Richard Chou received a silver medal; Sumin Yoon & Evelyn Qian won bronzes, & Eddie McTaggart was awarded a Certificate of Merit. So well done, all round!

It was a testing time for our students, who were competing against the best senior school biology students in the world. Mind you, it wasn’t exactly a holiday for the jury members accompanying them, who put in some extremely long hours as the demanding practical and theory exams were finalised. But both students and jury members had time for relaxation on their schedules. In one of those ‘off-duty’ periods, along with 3 colleagues I caught first a bus & then a train to visit Singapore’s spectacular new Gardens by the Bay. Around every corner was a new ‘oh, wow!’ moment, and we collectively took an album full of photos. Like this one:

  singapore supertrees.jpg

These are some of the ‘supertrees’ – a grove of metal and concrete ‘trees’ betwen 30 & 50m high that dominate the park’s skyline (& put on a fine show at night, when they contribute to the light show along the downtown waterfront). They’re living gardens, clothed in vertical gardens & with a sky-walk running among them. At the top of each ‘tree’ is a bank of solar panels, harvesting sunlight to power the park’s systems; they also include a system to collect and distribute rainwater, & in addition act as exhaust and cooling systems for the huge domed conservatories nearby.

singapore supertrees & dome.jpg

There are two such domes: one houses a collection of gardens from different regions – including a 1,000 years-old olive tree. This & all the other mature (& adolescent) trees in the gardens were brought in from around the world (at goodness knows what expense!) The other is home to an artificial ‘mountain’ that provides a cloud forest environment to an enormous number of different plant species and includes a plunging 30m waterfall. It also provides some wonderful views, including another perspective on the supertrees that to me only serves to emphasise their other-worldliness:

singapore supertrees from dome.jpg