x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 February 2018

Dubai science students create ‘treasure from trash’

Enthusiastic youngsters gathered together to share their passion for science, by building models out of recycled household items.

Vivesh Sheshan explains his project that demostrates the movement of waves. A group of school children created science projects based on waste and met to display their ideas and creations at Jumeirah Lake Towers. Antonie Robertson / The National
Vivesh Sheshan explains his project that demostrates the movement of waves. A group of school children created science projects based on waste and met to display their ideas and creations at Jumeirah Lake Towers. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // As scores of students across the UAE enjoyed their time off over Eid Al Adha, a small group of driven, enthusiastic school friends came together in Dubai to make innovative science models using disposable and recycled products.

From drinking straws that recreated the crests and troughs of the ocean’s waves to balloons and CDs that demystified the mechanics of a hovercraft; or ice cream sticks and empty yogurt boxes that doubled up as biogas plants, the young pupils, aged between six and 15, had thought of it all to make science more endearing and hands-on for their peers.

“Students learn better when there is visual learning,” said Kavya Prasad, a pupil at the Delhi Private School (DPS), Dubai, who initiated the “treasure from trash” community project.

The event was held in Jumeirah Lake Towers yesterday morning, where children gathered to share their passion for science.

“Science is an important subject and it is even more important for students to embrace it in a fun way. Many fear science and hate the subject when they can’t relate to it. That is why I decided to do something hands on,” Kavya said.

The DPS student used styrofoam balls, straws, bottle caps and rubber bands to create an orrery model that showed the movement of planets, while her merry-go-round used pulleys made of cardboard, rubber bands, old greeting cards and batteries from used toys.

She also built a model using tissue boxes, cardboard and plastic tubing to show rain water harvesting.

Ms Prasad said the purpose of the student-led initiative was to demonstrate that learning need not be rote-based, a practice common in results-orientated Indian curriculum schools.

“This is not part of any school project but something to motivate other students to convert disposable things into educative projects so they can understand school concepts better.

“If we see, we can learn better. Indian schools cover many topics, unlike western curriculum schools, where students do limited topics but are encouraged to go into their depths. Hence, students from these schools are far more efficient than Indian school kids.”

Viswesh Seshan, a Grade 6 puppil from the Ambassador School, agreed learning in Indian schools had to go beyond textbooks.

“Our system is competition driven,” he said. “We wanted to show that schools can use different methods and teaching aids to make concepts interesting.

“Science shouldn’t be rote learnt,” said Viswesh, who had stuck drinking straws together using tape to show how waves were created.

“Some people understand better when they listen, while some like to see. My school uses different methods. One size doesn’t fit all and all schools have to explore different methods,” said the pupil, who had also made a solar oven model.

Nidhurv Ravikumar, a Grade 9 DPS pupil, agreed learning in schools should not be theory-based.

“Learning has to be practical. There should be lot less cramming and more practical learning. Parents also need to back off and not pressure students. Instead, they should let them be creative.”

He had brought balloons to recreate the air pressure that propels a hovercraft and used wooden blocks and magnets to demonstrate how high-speed “maglev”, or magnetic levitation, trains operate.

The Indian education system is said to be extremely competitive and rigorous. Despite drastic changes over the years, the system continues to heap pressure on young minds and has been blamed for several youth suicides in India and overseas. Unable to cope with the pressure, Abhimanyu Sadasivan, a 16-year-old student at the Indian High School Dubai, hanged himself earlier this year after writing a suicide note on his exam paper.

pkannan@thenational.ae