Science fest a success with huge turnout

MUSCAT: Oman Science Festival 2019, held under the theme ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution: Technologies without Borders’ concluded on Friday evening at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. The festival witnessed a wide participation of over 1,200 people representing 60 governmental, military and private sector institutions. In addition to more than 200 volunteers, it was participated by international organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Rolls Royce Foundation.

The festival witnessed about 184,953 visitors who toured around more than 300 events, including pioneering programming and robot competitions, hackathons, drone competitions, scientific performances at the festival’s stage, as well as scientific cinema and 20 interactive corners in divers areas of science. On the sidelines of the festival and under the auspices of Shaikh Khalid al Marhoon, Minister of Civil Service, the Ministry of Education organised the annual ceremony on Thursday to honour excellent students in the Cognitive Development Programme in science, mathematics and concepts of environmental geography for the academic year (2018-2019).
A number of ministers, under-secretaries, members of the State Council and Majlis Ash’shura, officials and parents of honoured students participated.

During the ceremony, Saud al Balushi, member of State Council and Chairman of the Main Committee of Oman Science Festival, delivered the Ministry of Education speech and said, “The ministry continues to modernise and develop the Cognitive Development Programme, since its application in the academic year 2007-2008 until today. It has taken great steps in continuous updating of quality programmes following which students have achieved honourable results at the local and international levels in competitions of innovations, robotics, national and regional Olympics, programming and various hackathons.

“A few days ago, students won 13 medals, including gold, silver and bronze, in the Gulf Olympics in Mathematics, Physics and Arabic Language Competitions. This year, for the first time, students of the Sultanate will participate in the International Olympiad in Mathematics, which will take place in St Petersburg, Russia, next summer, as well as continue to participate in the International Chemistry Olympiad for the second time as international observers. The ministry will also participate in the Physics Olympiad in order to provide Omani nationals with the opportunity to participate in various regional and international Olympics.”

Al Balushi pointed out the most important technologies and programmes applied in the schools of the Sultanate to support innovation in the light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He said: “Procedural programming is an important entry point for the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution because the programming of artificial intelligence, robot, the Internet of Things and big data, etc all rely on it. The OmanTel Programming Olympiad comes as an enhanced aspect of this orientation. The ministry and the Academy of Programming will coordinate with the Regional Centre for International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) on registering Oman in the list of IOI countries soon.”

Moreover, on STEM programme, he said, “The ministry has completed the expansion of the STEM OMAN programme implementation, which entered its third consecutive year this year. The expansion comes in partnership with the Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership, and the British Rolls Royce Foundation. It also adds the remaining 12 schools from the current implementation phase.”

The celebrations included screening of a short film titled “Our Achievements are tender” and ended with a ceremony presided over by Shaikh Khalid bin Omar al Marhoon, who honoured excellent students in the four categories of the Cognitive Development programme.

The Omani Association for Educational Technologies participated in the festival in interactive shows corner. Throughout the days of the festival, the association provided many interactive presentations of educational technologies, including: launching the application of safe social networking for school students, and the announcement the association’s project to Arabise specialised technology to identify difficulties of reading through artificial intelligence.

The last day also included interactive presentations of laboratory techniques, in the corner of educational techniques. Mohammed al Naabi, science lab specialist said, “The school science labs corner aims to offer interactive experiences that attract children as well as adults. It highlights experiment of blood type, fingerprint and crime scene experiment. All these experiment aim to expand students’ perceptions in anticipating and solving problems in scientific methods. The corner also includes experiments on alternative energy (clean) and alternative tools used in school laboratories and virtual reality.”