Maths and science are subjects that most children dread and the summer vacation is a time when they are least inclined to talk about studies, and scientific experiments, at this time of the year, are a definite no no.

By Ilyas Qureshi

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Published: Tue 10 Aug 2004, 2:51 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:32 AM

But, thanks to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry initiative Knowledge Surprises under the umbrella of the Dubai Summer Surprises 2004, the kids are more than willing to tax their brains to pick up a few important lessons in science at the interactive physics and chemistry experiments being conducted at the BurJuman Centre which seems to have been transformed into a laboratory of sorts.

So, what's the reason for the children to get lured to this camp. Mansour Al Mazmi, committee member, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explains that this is done with a view to making learning fun. "We know none of the children would like to be part of this endeavour if it is done in a drab way. Therefore participation is the key here as the kids are shown how to do certain experiments and then left on their own to complete the projects and their efforts are rewarded accordingly with big and small prizes like pens, mugs and balloons which serve as bait for the youngsters who are willing to give their best shot," says Al Mazmi adding, "On the first day itself (i.e. Thursday) we had a large turnout of not only kids but also accompanying parents who encouraged their wards to participate and win a prize. The following days were still busy as the number of visitors multiplied and stayed back till the end of the event at 10pm."

Two teams of a six-member group of young adults from Solutions A to Z, based in Lebanon are here under the directive of the Lebanese Chamber of Economy. The groups are headed by John Jen-Luc Zabbal, Elie Badr and Walid Jabbour. Dolly Doueihy, a deputy leader who is leading the group of students from Lebanon at the BurJuman Centre informed that the response to the event has been overwhelming. "More and more people are coming in daily as the message spreads through the media and word of mouth. We have different events of half hour each coming up one after the other like Eureka! Adventure mini story where presenters are cast as trees, flowers and doctors and the children explore the environment to learn the names of plants and trees and their importance in protecting the globe," informs Dolly who laughingly acknowledges the fact that her name incidentally was baptised by the first ever cloned sheep.

"Every segment of our shows begin with a musical presentation of numbers, alphabets and organic tables which the kids are made to repeat accompanied by clapping and singing. This is what they love to do. Then it's serious business of hitting the lab-like table where the kids are seen brainstorming to finish the experiments on hand so that they get the first prize.

"Included here are interesting workshops guaranteed to pique the curiosity of little ones like the flying disc which is a CD that focuses on the properties of air and how it can be used to move objects and achieve speed including an airplane's landing and take-off while the electrical lamp workshop shows how the eye perceives colour and why a disc containing seven colours like a rainbow shows only the white colour when rotated with force," says Dolly adding, "Then there is the Invisible Ink workshop which teaches children how to write with lemon and how to reveal it in front of fire; the Echo Phone workshop which focuses on the properties of sound and how it is transferred and how a telephone works, the orientation workshop which shows a rubbed needle acquiring magnetic qualities and how it reacts when coming in contact with water and the Mirror and Optics lab which is quite popular with the kids as it shows how mirrors and other reflective surfaces work."

Dolly goes on to inform that the group selected by her company carried out trials for one whole month before coming down to Dubai. "We selected these topics for the Dubai audience after consulting many officials who travel down regularly to the emirate. We needed three months to put this act together which, seen from the response, is a big success."

Ahmed Hasan Balouchi, who works for the Abu Dhabi TV but stays in Dubai came down with his three children who are interested in science and wants to be part of the experiments. He first took them to the Litle Traders Workshop in Mercato Mall where they got a chance to learnt about the value of money and how to open a bank account. "The DSS has been very informative for the children as I make it a point to take them to all the activities as I don't want them to be left behind in educational and information fields," says Balouchi.

Zarine Tone, another parent, who had her three-year-old son Dylan and cousin Eden by her side. "I come here everyday because the kids love this. They get a chance to dance and sing. My son is a bit shy and he is already showing some signs of opening up here. Though he doesn't understand much of the experiments he recognises colours and makes an attempt to give answers. That's is itself worth the effort coming here."

Nuha Safar, head of the Knowledge Surprises Organising Committee, said earlier during the launch press conference that Knowledge Surprises aims to give the children a perspective about modern technology starting from video games and ending with computers and their unlimited possibilities. The entertaining ambience of Knowledge Surprises helps children to understand and apply the knowledge gained to their theoretical lessons within school.

Besides the 'Science' world at BurJuman, the Knowledge Surprises week features four other intriguing themed experiences at different city malls in Dubai. The 'Space and Technology' world at the Deira City Centre, the 'Health' world at Al Ghurair City, the 'Little Trader' world at Mercato and the 'Geography' world at Al Bustan Centre. "All five tasks have been especially designed to be fun, interactive and competitive while being educational at the same time. Above all, the idea is to make every evening a celebration with DSS," said Nuha Safar.

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