Students show Senator Sassui Palijo how their project works at the Laar Science Festival in Thatta. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: With their vibrant scientific models and stimulating explanations, students from the historical city of Thatta, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, not only displayed their talent but also fascinated visitors at the first ever Laar Science Festival.

More than 7,000 students from over 50 regional schools and colleges participated in the two-day (Dec 14-15) festival at Thatta’s Sports Complex.

A large number of teachers, entrepreneurs, science specialists and government officials also attended the event including Dr Nawaz Sogho, Deputy Commissioner of Thatta, Senator Sassui Palijo from Thatta district, Sindh’s Minister of Science and Technology Taimur Talpur.

Admiring the talent of local students in science and technology, minister Talpur promised to establish science centres in the region to groom young scientists.

“It’s amazing to see the scientific spirit in the ancient city of Thatta famous for its archaeological, cultural sites and the seat of three successive dynasties,” said Junaid Ahmad Dahar, CEO of Sindh Education Alliance.

He agreed with most of the visitors that the high level of participation by the students was a clear indication of their interest in utilising everyday science to work towards solving issues in their towns and cities.

Organised by Thar Education Alliance (TEA), Campaignistan, and Laar Education Campaign with the support of District Government of Thatta, the festival reached rural students who would not typically have the chance to attend science and technology events.

The science fest promoted a culture of inquiry and hands-on learning in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) subjects.

“We started this journey of organising science festivals from Tharparkar back in February 2018, and continuing this campaign for quality education in Pakistan” remarked Partab Shivani, CEO Thar Education Alliance and organiser of the event.

The theme of the event was ‘climate change’ to raise awareness on the issue as Pakistan has been ranked 7 on the list of climate vulnerable countries. To raise public awareness on the effects of climate change, the event was held in Sindh province, which is vulnerable to increased intensity of extreme weather events such as frequent floods and droughts.

Young scientists exhibited projects on solar panels, windmills, water purification, offering innovative solutions to climate change.

A project by Nimra Memon, a Grade 12 student at Concept School, Thatta, was highly acclaimed at the festival as well as on social media where her video received appreciation from Climate Change Adviser Malik Amin Aslam.

“The festival in my hometown Thatta has enhanced my interest in science and encouraged me to work on solutions to climate change and aware the people of Laar on the issue.”

After explaining the phenomenon and impact of global warming, she asked the visitors: “If it is not the time to talk about climate change, then when will be the right time?”

Campaignistan CEO Farhad Ahmad Jarral said: “We live in a digital age, where there is need to connect online and offline to bring change in the education discourse. The festival was appreciated by thousands online and sparked interest among students in other regions of Pakistan when the pictures and videos of students of Thatta were shared online.”

Laar Science Festival included activities including hands-on activities, live scientific experiments, projects, tests and different sessions on climate change by Afia Salam of Indus Earth Trust, Manzoor Soomro of Economic Cooperation Organisation Science Foundation (ECOSF), Mohammad Ali Shah of Fisher Folk, Nasir Pawar an environmentalist, Tufail of Sindh University (Badin), Dr Bhikaram of LUMHS and Dr Bhawani Shankar of Mehran University as well as organisations including Stemmers, Robotech, Pakistan Science Club, Ilm-e-Neroon and Pakistan Science Foundation.

Speakers at the festival said maths and science education were critical in developing the cognitive skills in children as nations have used maths and science to empower their citizens with higher incomes, and to help grow their economies.