Organised by The Technology Development Committee (TDC) and the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), the Abu Dhabi Science Festival is more than just labs and beakers. Running from tomorrow until October 20 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), the Corniche, Al Wahda and Mushrif malls in the capital, Al Ain Mall and Gharbiyah's City Mall, the festival's unique blend of interactive displays and presentations aims to kick-start a love of science in the nation's youth.
"At its core, it's an informal science education initiative," says TDC's festival director Wissam Kabbani. "But, in reality, it is incredibly fun. You are talking about a huge number of activities that are interactive, hands-on and very different from what people expect."
Back by popular demand
When the festival launched last year, Kabbani and his team expected around 65,000 people to walk through its gates. Instead, they received more than 100,000. Kabbani credits the successful outcome of the festival to fulfilling a community need. "The truth is, they were hungry for it," he says. "That is the only thing I think I can say about that. The kids, the families, the teachers, the level of community engagement and excitement of the kids was simply overwhelming. It was a fantastic and huge surprise." As a result, the festival has increased its space at Adnec by 20 per cent and will hold special programmes in Al Wahda and Mushrif malls, as well as in Al Ain Mall and City Mall in Gharbiyah.
With dozens of activities and exhibitions to pick from, ranging from the static to the gooey, families and children will be spoilt for choice. Themes include Robotics and Electronics, Messy Science, Explosions and Forces, Green Energy and Music and Sound.
Sadly, he is not a transformer. Dr Megavolt has dazzled and worried many a health and safety inspector with his mastery of electrical currents. Be amazed as he throws bolts of lightning across the stage using a one-million-volt Tesla coil and his unnerving control over these unruly sparks.
Visualise is an energetic mix of theatre and live science, proving that art can be science's partner rather than its opposite. The programme presents experiments conducted without speech. The result is comedic, physical theatre using projected images that tickles the funny bone as well as the mind.
Aspiring doctors and nurses will learn how to patch up injuries in the mini Accident and Emergency Unit. Using a real hospital medical kit, the interactive session can be useful (and lots of fun) to both children and adults.
What differentiates music from sound? This fast-moving presentation uses more than 30 global musical instruments as well as computer simulations to answer that question. The session also offers a rare chance to practise your nose-flute and hosepipe playing skills.
The festival plays a leading role in fulfilling Abu Dhabi's vision of building a knowledge-based economy. "[The festival] creates an attractive learning environment that helps our students develop their creative and critical thinking skills," says ADEC's director general Khamis Al Khalili. "Last year's event received positive feedback from students who participated in its wide range of activities."
Book your favourite sessions
With the unprecedented popularity of last year's event, Kabbani urges parents to go online and book sessions to avoid long queues. "This allows you to plan your day better, as you can book your seat in your favourite session," he says. "Thousands of people have booked tickets already, so I think this is advice that I would give to a friend."
The Abu Dhabi Science Festival runs from tomorrow until October 20 at various venues throughout the emirate. Tickets range from free to Dh10. For details, go to www.abudhabisciencefestival.ae