On last Saturday, Mr. Mostafa and I decided to check out the Saudi Science & Creativity Festival that was going on at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center. I hadn’t heard anything about it, and Mr. Mostafa didn’t know much about it, either (“It’s like, a science fair type thing?”), but we figured hey, why not?
Turns out the festival hosted a large number of displays and learning activities for students, from elementary school age onward, including presentations from the California Science Center and Mishkat Interactive Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy, which is located right here in Riyadh but is only open to educational groups (I’ve been there with my sister-in-law and her students, and it’s a very cool experience. I had a blast right along with the kids).
The festival also hosted science competitions. There was the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity, the national science fair in which, according to Arab News, 382 girls and 380 boys entered projects to compete for 700,000 Saudi riyals in prizes (that’s over $186,000! Hey, can I enter the Science Olympiad next year?). There were also two competitions hosted by SABIC, the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation: the SABIC Ideas Award and the SABIC Growth Fund, both of which invite competitors to submit their ideas for innovations related to the field of plastics. The Ideas Award is a cash prize and the Growth Fund gives the winner the opportunity to collaborate with SABIC and have access to SABIC resources to bring the idea to fruition. These competitions offer cash prizes up to 10 million Saudi riyals (that’s over 2.6 million US dollars. Yeah, I missed the boat when I decided I hated science in school).
So we got to the festival early on a Saturday morning.
Right after we arrived, we had to register in a large tent outside the convention center, where we got printed nametags like the guy on the sign is wearing in the picture above.
It was a big day for Lavender. Not only did she get her own cool nametag, but she also got to wear her Hello Kitty cowgirl boots for the first time; we brought them back from the States last fall, but she’s just now growing into them.
Because we were among the first visitors early on a weekend morning, the entrance tent was mostly empty. But there was a short film you could sit and watch in order to learn about the different displays and competitions.
Once inside, we discovered booth after booth of great activities for students, being presented by scientists and teachers.
These girls are learning about…um, building? I guess? I don’t know, but it looks fun.
Not sure what this guy is presenting about, but I think he works for the publishing company that has set up the display behind him.
The Science Caravan is another program sponsored by SABIC; it just launched and it tours the country visiting different cities to offer interactive workshops and experiments in chemistry, math, and astronomy.
The nametags were everywhere! Outside the convention center there was a box on which people could stick their nametags after exiting the festival. It made for a pretty colorful objet d’art.
So, yeah. That was our experience at the Saudi Science & Creativity Festival. It was a good time, and I’m sure it will be even more fun when Lavender is old enough to participate in some of the cool learning workshops!