x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi Science Festival inspires next generation of innovators

Hundreds of local young people will be able to get hands-on experience with the world of science, as organisers hope to inspire a new generation of scientists.

Children participate in the sound and music experiments at the Abu Dhabi Science Festival as it opens its doors to young scientists and innovators for the third consecutive year. Sammy Dallal / The National
Children participate in the sound and music experiments at the Abu Dhabi Science Festival as it opens its doors to young scientists and innovators for the third consecutive year. Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI // A wealth of new scientific experiences await the country’s youth when they visit the Abu Dhabi Science Festival at the du Forum on Yas Island which opened on Thursday.

Schoolchildren from across the country were the first to get their hands on the interactive exhibits on show at the festival designed to inspire the next generation of local scientists and innovators.

“It is a great day to see the smiles on the faces of children participating here, and the excitement of the science communicators,” said Ahmed Saeed Al Calily, the director general of the organiser’s, Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee.

“We have brought more local content into the picture this year, our desire has been from day one to have local content. Twenty per cent of our content this year is produced from institutions in the UAE. We have also seen greater sponsorship from international organisations, which is great to see.

“This is a very concrete step towards achieving something which is sometimes seen as abstract – the knowledge economy. Our belief is that science and technology is the future.

“We hope the kids leave with a big smile, but, more than that, memories that will last them a lifetime. Many of the innovators in science and technologies companies had their passion for science ignited from such events. When they leave the festival we have left them with a seed that will grow with time, and will hopefully turn them into the scientists and innovators of the future,” he said.

Some of the events on offer include “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, “Lights, Lasers, Action” and the “Madlab” run by the festival’s sponsors Tawazun.

“The pupils need to experience something new, this is a great to experience for them,” said Saeed Morsi, a teacher from Al Farooq school in Liwa, who spent five hours travelling by bus with his class yesterday to attend the festival. They took their pupils to the “Polyfloss Factory” where the children turned recycled materials into new objects.

“Of course the students are enjoying it, just look at their faces. It is better to have something practical other than just theoretical. They are engaged and getting a lot of motivation from it,” he said.

“It is great fun. We are recycling plastic from small shreds and turning it into rulers,” said 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed Staive, from Syria, who dreams of becoming an “atom scientist” when he finishes his studies.

“I have never been to a science festival before, it is amazing. There were explosions at one of the other stands earlier. You don’t get explosions in school. Science is very beautiful, I hope we can do more things like this.”

Dr Susan Hoban, associate professor of physics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, introduced students to the wonder of Nasa’s Mars Rover, before allowing them to build their own, albeit smaller, versions.

“We want to use Mars as an inspiration to show the students that engineering is a career that they should choose, especially for girls, who maybe do not think that it is something they can do,” she said.

“My hats off to the organisers because it is a great undertaking. We hope that kids leave here thinking that engineering is fun.”

The festival runs from 3.30pm to 8.30pm on weekdays and 12pm to 9pm on weekends.

Other events are taking place on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche from 5pm to 9pm Sunday to Wednesday, 5pm to 10pm on Thursday and 4pm to 10pm at weekends.

It will also tour other parts of the country throughout its 10-day run, with events at Al Ain Zoo on Friday and on November 22-23; Madinat Zayed Garden in Al Gharbia on November 16; Fujairah Corniche on November 17-18; Ras Al Khaimah Cornich on November 19 and 20 and Umm Al Quwain Cultural Centre on November 21.

For more information, including a full schedule of events, visit: www.abudhabisciencefestival.ae.

ksinclair@thenational.ae