Science lab for children opens in Dubai

Engaging children is critical to making the UAE a global research capital, say municipal officials

Inaas Ibrahim, teacher at the ResearchersÕ World - Science Lab speaks during an interview with The National, in Dubai, UAE, Nov. 18, 2019. The lab for children was inaugurated Monday. (Shruti Jain / The National)
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A new science centre for children opened its doors at Children’s City in Dubai on Monday.

The branch of the German children’s initiative Forscherwelt, or Researcher’s World, opened in partnership with Dubai Municipality.

An estimated 5,000 children, aged seven to 11, are expected to visit the centre on a monthly basis to learn about science from hands-on experiments.

“It’s must easier to go into nature or into a lab than to read a book or be told something in a classroom,” said Simone Bagel-Trah, the chair of supervisory board of Henkel, the German chemicals company that created Forscherwelt. “With Forscherwelt, children have the opportunity to find out what it means to be a scientist, to work like a researcher. Being a scientist is a great pleasure because you learn about the secrets of life.”

The new facility was built following the success of a two-year trial programme at Children’s City, a science learning centre in Dubai that has exhibitions, a planetarium and a nature centre.

The initiative is part of federal government plans to develop Dubai as a centre for research and innovation, said Naila Al Mansoory, Dubai Municipality manager of Children’s City.

“Most labs at schools give children a lot of strict rules,” said Ms Al Mansoory. “During these workshops they will be much more flexible in trying their own ideas and testing true or false hypotheses.”

The centre will be open seven days a week. Admission is free.

For many children in the UAE, it is a rare opportunity to do lab work. Science lessons at many UAE schools are often more about memorising formulas instead of time spent in the lab.

“Children get a lot of teachers telling them what will happen in labs but they don’t see it in real life,” and Inaas Ibrahim, a chemical engineer raised in the Dubai and Sharjah and Forscherwelt instructor. “In my school, I didn’t see a lot of experiments because my teacher used to just write on the board, and that’s it. Now we have this opportunity that’s free of cost for children and that's amazing.”