Students from the Government Schools showcased their innovative projects in the 1st Islamabad Science Festival (ISF)
1st Islamabad Science Festival was jointly organized by ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF), Campaignistan and Local Administration of Islamabad in collaboration with other organizations on 27-28 April 2019 at Awan-e-Quaid, F.9 Park, Islamabad. The Festival was inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Mr. Hamza Shafqaat and President ECOSF Prof. Manzoor H. Soomro.
The purpose of the festival was to provide the platform to the students especially from government schools to showcase their creative ideas and projects through dynamic models. It was encouraging to witness that a significant number of girls participated in the Festival. The objective of holding this Festival was to fuel the public interest for science and technology and aware them of boundless benefits of science for the society. Another target of the festival was to encourage the kids of the government schools to participate and to boost their curiosity and motivate them to pursue careers in Science and Technology.
Over 40 school teams participated and majority of them represented the government schools where they showed working models and innovative exhibits. National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) and Institute of Space Technology (IST) also participated and setup their exhibits at the Festival, while several private and public science organisations contributed to the event including Pakistan Science Foundation, Engineering for Kids, Science Fuse, Learn-O-Bots, Robo Minors.
ECOSF hosted the Panel Discussion on
“Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for the Sustainable Development”
during the 1st Islamabad Science Festival
During the Festival, ECOSF organised and hosted a panel discussion on “Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for the Sustainable Development”. This panel discussion focused on the linkages between the Science, Technology & Innovation and Sustainable Development. Engr. Khalil Raza, Scientific Officer ECOSF moderated the panel discussion and generated a meaningful debate on significance of science for a progressive society. The session brought together expert panelists who highlighted and shared their wisdom on developing strong linkages between Science and Technology and the Sustainable Development.
The panellists in the session included:
- Imtiaz Ali Rastgar, Founder and Chairman of Rastgar Group
Critical Role of Science and Technology and its significance for the Sustainable Economic and Industrial Growth
- Fauzia Idrees Abro, Cyber Security Professional, Pakistan Airforce
Importance of Women Working in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
- Syed Moazzam Ali Hashmi, Senior Journalist and Security Analyst
How Pakistani media can play its role to promote Science and Technology (S&T) and why is it important for addressing the socioeconomic challenges for the country?
- Dr. Bushra Mirza, ISESCO Women Science Chair and Professor of Biochemistry at Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad
Fostering Innovation, Creativity & Critical Thinking Skills in Student
The panellists deliberated in depth on linkages between science and sustainable development and various aspects of promotion of STI through non formal science education, science literacy among general public, encouraging more women to pursue careers in science, role of parents, teachers and media in promoting science education and the emerging role of new & digital technologies. The panel discussion concluded with Q&A, feedbacks and active interaction with the audience.
Major takeaways of this Panel Discussion are as follows:
Mr. Imtiaz Rastgar emphasized over the need to encourage young students and kids with proactive and interactive learning of science by doing not just at the schools but also at their homes. Parents should play an important role to inspire their kids to take part in experimenting science with low cost tech gadgets. He also called for developing a lab with provision of scientific equipment to make science more interesting and effective for students. For which he said the capable and creative teachers are a key players. Mr. Rastgar stressed that strong S&T base at schools can contribute to development of qualified work force for Small and Medium Industries with a potential to pull Pakistan out of the economic challenges. He concluded that innovation is key to achieve the economic development as science plays a key role in supporting the innovative ecosystems.
Dr. Fauzia Idrees Abro underscored the importance of women in STEM fields. She said that globally, there are only 28% women in STEM fields. While women in Pakistan make almost 50% of population but majority of them are deprived of STEM education. By depriving them, we are decreasing chances of employment for half of our population and hence wasting 50% of our talent and destabilizing our economy, she added. Dr. Abro further said that world is moving towards Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and coding needs to be the base to keep up with these future changes. Dr. Abro spoke about the development of a coding platform, which she intends to launch to encourage girls and women to acquire necessary digital and coding skills to excel in the STEM fields. Dr. Abro shared her personal and inspiring story as to how she overcame many challenges to pursue a career in STEM despite the fact that it is extremely challenging to achieve big milestones especially for a girl from a very remote area of Sindh.
Mr. Syed Moazzam Ali Hashmi highlighted the role of media in promoting science for the sustainable development. He said that media is an effective tool for perception building and at times it may create negative narratives due to lack of trained journalist in Pakistan. However, journalists as responsible professionals should play their role to promote scientific culture in our society. He pointed out that science journalism is an specialized track and expressed his concern over lack of training opportunities in this field. Without training, the science reporting in mainstream media will be difficult to flourish, he added. He also added that media should not be solely blamed for lack of coverage as there is no demand from public at large for scientific news. Mr. Hashmi said that there is a gap in the academic discourse and practical or field journalism, which is also true in case of science journalism. Therefore, academia and media should work together and take this responsibility of bridging the gap between the two narratives.
Prof. Dr. Bushra Mirza shared that kids are actually born scientists and usually they have the spark for innovative ideas due to their inherent nature of thinking out of the box rather without a box! However, when they join schools and go through formal learning at schools, we kill their curiosity and critical thinking skills and put them in boxes by discouraging them not to think innovatively, she added. Kids and young students should be encouraged to make observations and ask questions surrounding their environment so that they can comprehend the nature and environment more vividly, which is one of the key characteristics of a scientist. She also underscored that overall state of science teachers in Pakistan is quite inadequate due to lack of training, incentives and privileges duly required for the most important job for a teacher to prepare the future of a nation.
President ECOSF Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro gave his concluding remarks at the end of panel discussion. He appreciated all the esteemed panellists and the moderator for their contributions and generating a useful discussion on this very important topic. Prof. Soomro proposed the idea of establishing a Fabrication Lab (FabLAB) for kids to encourage innovation, creativity and critical thinking skills. He expressed his gratitude for the event organizers; Campaignistan and City Administration for their commitment, efforts and making this Festival a successful event.
During the event, “Science Fuse” led interactive science fun activities where young participant took keen interest and participated in it. It is important to create platforms to promote such activities for children for the better future of Pakistan. In the end, President ECOSF Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro and Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Mr. Hamza Shafqaat distributed awards and certificates among the finalists and participating teams.