Abu Dhabi's Mushrif Central Park has been transformed into an 11-day science extravaganza of more than 50 interactive workshops and exhibitions, fun experiments and performances to educate young minds about diverse topics in science like the environment, the human body, aerodynamics and outer space.
The Abu Dhabi Science Festival, now in its fifth year, aims to make science relevant to everyday life and stimulate academic interest in science, technology, engineering and math. A team of 12 passionate NYUAD students are running a series of interactive experiments and workshops at the festival from November 12-22 to show young people that science is fun and it's everywhere.
“I think the Abu Dhabi Science Festival is important because it piques curiosities among children and their parents," said Nouf Ali Al Hamly, NYUAD event coordinator. The festival is also a celebration of diversity, she added, because it blends local and international knowledge from exhibitors who come from all over the world.
We're teaching children that science isn't some scary equation. It's something fun and can be found in simple kitchen ingredients. You can touch and literally squish the science.
NYUAD’s 40-minute genetics workshop called "From DNA to cells to...worms?" takes children into a discovery of the building blocks of an organism’s body. Children start by examining C. elegans worms that have been genetically modified at NYUAD labs, then compare them with normal worms to learn about disease. In the first few days of the festival alone, more than 500 people participated in the cells to worms experiment.
At the NYUAD ‘Cell-fie’ Station, young students extract cells from their own cheeks using a cotton swab and examine them under a microscope, while at the Kitchen DNA workshop, DNA is extracted from mashed up strawberries and saved inside a necklace for children to take home.
NYUAD biology major Khairunnisa Mentari Semesta, Class of 2018, said, “It’s a very rewarding experience to spread my love for science not only to little kids but also to adults who want to learn. It's a great way for NYUAD students to give back and interact with the greater Abu Dhabi community.”
“You can touch and literally squish the science," added Thinh Tran, biology major, Class of 2017. “We're teaching children that science isn't some scary equation. It's something fun and can be found in simple kitchen ingredients."
One mother at the festival remarked that NYUAD's workshop was "probably the most impactful" because her children were visibly excited by knowledge and learning. "I felt like my children were really learning something new."
The Abu Dhabi Science Festival is organized by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) and the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee (TDC) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.