WHAT happens when you put a single man and a single woman in a roomful of children?
Well, the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (Mica) hopes that it might spark romance.
That's just one of the aims of the Read For A Museum Trip that Mica is organising next month.
Community work is another.
The participants are single women who work in Mica and single men who work in the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).
They will meet while they chaperone children on trips to the Mint Museum of Toys on Seah Street, next to Raffles Hotel.
During each of the four trips planned, five volunteers from each ministry will accompany 30 to 40 children who are aged between 6 and12.
After the guided tour, there will be a social networking dinner at the museum's cafe for the volunteers involved.
Project co-ordinator Alvin Tan said: 'Singles networking is a part of this project.
'By holding these activities during office hours, it gives the volunteers an avenue to do community work, and to make new friends.'
He decided to invite single female Mica officers as volunteers because there is a sizeable number of them keen on community work.
But why Mindef?
It 'was the most obvious choice in terms of the highest number of single male officers', Mr Tan explained.
He added that the adults are free to mingle with anyone, but each will be allocated a certain number of children.
This is the first of Mica's singles activities to involve children and response to the trip has been good, he added.
Of the 20 spots reserved for Mica officers, 17 have been taken. Some officers have also volunteered for more than one trip.
Miss Diana Tiong, 23, who signed up for two trips, feels the museum trips are 'less direct' than other singles networking activities she has heard about.
But she said she had no interest in meeting an eligible Mindef officer as she has been seeing someone for the past three years.
'I'm just interested in community work and being with children. Meeting other people is secondary.'
What if a Mindef officer likes her?
'If they hit on me, I would just say I'm attached, but I don't mind being friends,' she said.
Other ministries do it too
Other ministries such as the Ministry of Education also have their own matchmaking programmes (see report, far right), on top of those organised by the government matchmaker, the Social Development Unit (SDU).
Mr Tan thinks there is no harm in ministries and government agencies playing Cupid.
He said: 'It's always good to come up with new and innovative ways of encouraging singles to mingle.
'If I'm a busy single officer, I would rather spend my time on meaningful volunteer work, than go out just to network.
'This is why we make social networking a secondary aspect of something that is more meaningful.
'It might be more effective,' he said.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Nov 17, 2008.