x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Festival puts the fun into fundamental science

Despite closing one location for the weekend because of stormy weather, the festival attracted hundreds of schoolchildren during its final day.

Visitors watch a science demostration at the Abu Dhabi Science Festival. Charles Crowell for The National
Visitors watch a science demostration at the Abu Dhabi Science Festival. Charles Crowell for The National

ABU DHABI // Hundreds of schoolchildren crowded the Corniche for the final day of the Abu Dhabi Science Festival.

The 10-day event, which ended on Saturday, featured workshops intended to thrill, educate and inspire children to pursue careers in science and technology.

“It’s a fun way for children to learn about science and many other things,” said Mubarak Al Mansoori, 37, who works at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

He took his daughter Almaha, 8, and three sons Rashid, 6, Abdullah, 5, and two-year-old Ahmad.

“Science and arts are my favourite subjects,” said Almaha, a grade 3 pupil at Sheikh Zayed Private Academy in Abu Dhabi. She has attended the annual festival for the past two years.

“Young children need to learn science,” she said. “It will make us clever and famous someday. I want to be a traveller and a scientist when I grow up.”

They learnt how to build kaleidoscopes and were introduced to archaeology through a mock sandbox dig called Kids Dig.

“We are learning archaeology in a fun way,” Almaha said. “We even got a certificate.”

The certificate states: “I became an awesome archaeologist with Adnoc at ADSF.”

Another Emirati, Ibrahim Al Otaiba, 33, a third-year urban planning student at Al Hosn University, went with his three children, Mansour, 7, Maitha, 5, and Maha, 4.

“I took my children here for two things – to interact with the scientists and to have fun,” he said. “They really enjoyed their time at the Kids Dig, and now they’re having fun with bubbles.”

At the Bubble Workshop, children created bubbles of various sizes and forms. The workshop taught them that no matter what shape a bubble starts off, it will always try to form a sphere.

“Bubbles are always round and the colours that you see in bubbles are caused by light that is reflected off the walls of the bubble,” explained Michael Lynch, 24, a team leader at the festival.

Activities at the du Forum on Yas Island had to be cancelled on Thursday and Saturday because of the weather. Tickets bought online for du Forum’s Saturday workshops and activities would be refunded, organisers said.

“My children are interested in science and they love kites,” said Anne Kaenel, 36, from Al Ain. “The workshop is a nice bonus for coming here.”

The mother of two took photographs of her children Pascal, 8, and Jolie, 5, while they were making their own kites at the High Flyers workshop.

There were more than 75 activities during the 10-day festival, including workshops, exhibits, shows, a special “Science Film Festival”, and mobile units called busking bikes.

Earlier on Saturday, the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee (TDC) hosted an awards ceremony for the outstanding performance of the festival’s science communicators.

The festival was organised by the committee to inspire the nation’s youth with science-related hands-on activities and is part of a wider strategy to build a talent base in science, technology and innovation.

“We are all very impressed with our science communicators,” said Ahmed Saeed Al Calili, the committee’s director general. “Their commitment, enthusiasm and genuine love for promoting the fun of science to kids has come across very clearly. They are superb role models for the UAE youth.”

About 900 science communicators, including the festival’s alumni, were recruited and trained by world-class experts from the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the content partner of TDC.

Faris Al Masi received an award for teamwork, Aysha Al Salih for most improved, and Maitha Al Ameri for most innovative.

The festival has reached out to youngsters in the other emirates who cannot attend exhibits in the capital.

On Sunday and Monday, it will tour schools in Fujairah to meet future scientists and engineers, in coordination with the Ministry of Education.

One of the highlights is the Coldest Show on Earth, in which young scientists can enjoy experiments with the charismatic Luke Warm, who is on a mission to turn the temperature of everything and everyone on the planet to sub-zero.

Pupils can also look forward to Body Builders, a funny and interactive show exploring the main organs of the body to discover what they do and the role of healthy eating.

rruiz@thenational.ae