It is unusually pleasant when a 10-year-old tells you science is fun. Witnessing them squeal in excitement as UV particles change colour in sunlight, or when calcium cackles as it explodes in water, is an even rarer sight.
All of this happened during an interactive science lesson arranged by Forskerfabrikken, a Norwegian organisation that seeks to integrate science and education in academic curriculums, at The Garage School. Lala Rukh Malik, a member of the organisation, initiated the activity in Pakistan. “There is no concept of interactive, fun learning when it comes to science in Pakistan. The purpose behind this session is to establish science as an option for leisure activities, along with arts, dramatics and other things.” Malik, who is training to be a microbiologist herself, has been working with Forskerfabrikken for the past two years in Norway.
A teacher explains concepts to students. PHOTO: SARAH MUNIR/EXPRESS
“I saw the positive impact these sessions were having on children over there. And I thought, why not take this to Pakistan?” she said enthusiastically. Malik feels the sessions also help in establishing science-related fields like physics, biology, and chemistry as realistic career options for children in the future.
Ten-year-old Nida Ashraf, who participated in the session, said, “Usually we learn from books in classrooms. But today we got to do experiments with our own hands. It was so much fun! I want to be a science teacher when I grow up.”
When Malik approached Shabina Mustafa, founder of The Garage School, she was immediately on-board with the idea. “The things we teach these children are beyond their wildest imaginations. If someone volunteers to bring these teachings to life, I always support them,” emphasised Mustafa, a vehement advocate of eradicating barriers in education for the under-privileged.
The session was an initial feeler for the Pakistani market and Malik seemed optimistic about its future prospects. She elaborated that finances, teacher trainings and partnerships with local school would be chalked out if Forskerfabrikken decided to launch its operations formally in Pakistan. However, for the time being, the activity was a good way of gauging the potential for interactive science education in Pakistan.
“Science is something magical. It allows you to believe in the impossible, like there are no boundaries. That is what these children need,” said Mustafa expressing desire for similar ventures to be undertaken in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2013.