Gravity … but with a dose of levity

The students will be running 150 workshops in science and technology

From left, the students Ali Atef, Ammar Al Hilali, Abdullah Mohammed and Malek Ali dramatise the theory of gravity in a training session at UAE University yesterday.
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AL AIN // Using drinking straws, a wind turbine fashioned from clothes hangers and a black box labelled "battery", UAE University students simplified a complex topic for schoolchildren: renewable energy.

The students, who will be running 150 workshops in science and technology at next month's Abu Dhabi Science Festival, were practising comedy, songs and stage acts at a science communications training session yesterday.

The festival, to run between November 18 and 26 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and on the west plaza of the Corniche, is modelled after the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Officials from that event, said to be the largest science festival in the world, have held training workshops at five universities: UAE University, Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi University, Khalifa University and Emirates College for Advanced Education.

The event is meant to be instrumental in the emirate's plan to move education away from rote learning.

"We need these students to act as ambassadors for delivering these complex ideas and concepts to our youth, and to engage through experiences and experiments that we currently do not see in the schools," said Ahmed Al Calily, the director general of the Technology Development Committee, which is running the event.

The training focuses on ways to convey science in a simple way to children, said Tom Pringle, a trainer from the Edinburgh festival. About 17,000 children from 175 schools have signed up so far.

"If you can substitute words from a popular pop song into scientific words, or tell a story or make something fun, then it starts to feel more like a play and less like learning," Mr Pringle said.

"If we can transfer that to these students, those are skills that can be passed down to younger generations here to change the way things are taught."