A two-day science festival for school children is underway in Saidu Sharif, Swat. The aim of the festival is to ignite a spark for science and discovery among students of the region, and to promote better quality of learning available in government schools.
According to a statement issued on the occasion, the first day of the festival on Tuesday attracted 1,500 girls and 5,000 boys from more than 130 government and private schools in Swat district. Under the supervision of the National Academy of Young Scientists, 1,036 students created the first-ever national record of simultaneously extracting DNA from strawberries, and 955 students made a human chain to represent the structure of the DNA. These records will be published in the Pakistan Book of Records.
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Teachers, entrepreneurs, science specialists, government officials and MPA Fazal Hakim attended the festival where students exhibited more than 100 science models displaying their passion for science and technology, and introduced innovative concepts to the visitors. Interactive displays and live experiments, some of which involved robotics, hydraulics, electrical circuits, and easy-to-understand math guides, were conducted by the students and six science organisations from across Pakistan including Learn-o-Bots, Stemmers, Numerica, Pakistan Science Club, AZ Corps and Sabaq.
The statement noted that Swat had been at the receiving end of extremism and violence from the years 2007-2009, resulting in decreased opportunities for girls to access education but it was now in its recovery phase. “Girls and boys are going back to schools, albeit with certain challenges. One of these includes poor learning outcomes with only 40.2 percent of students in Class 5 able to read a story in Urdu or Pashto languages, and only 44 percent of students in Class 5 being able to solve a two-digit division sum.”
It said that quality-oriented interventions could help provide Swat children with an enabling environment to pursue and absorb high-quality learning, and push for an increased focus on improvements in maths and science learning inside classrooms, which could prove to be instrumental in Swat’s response to the opportunities available to the city, as well as to the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at large.
The festival has been organized by Udhyaana, Swat Education Department, and Pakistan Alliance for Maths and Science. It was inaugurated by Malakand Division commissioner Syed Zaheerul Islam, deputy commissioner Shahid Mehmood, assistant commissioners Shahab Khan and Nazim Muhammad Ali Shah, and district education officer Nawab Ali.
The exhibition is open to the public, free of charge. It concludes on April 18 (today).