The Abu Dhabi Science Festival returns this week with another packed programme that proves learning can be fun.
The sixth edition of this family-friendly event begins on November 17 and continues until November 26 at Umm Al Emarat Park and Al Ain Zoo.
For the first time, the majority of the activities are of the “drop-in” variety, which means there is no need to preregister or buy tickets in advance.
“Instead of having a majority of scheduled activities, like in years past, parents can just drop in to sample the activities with their kids instead of having to pre-book, and families will always find plenty to do and plenty to join,” says Naema Al Marshoudi, manager of content, science and technology at the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee, which organises the festival along with the Abu Dhabi Education Council.
This year’s festival features 67 activities for all ages, an increase from the 56 offered a year ago.
“Family is the main theme of the festival this year, and the activities are designed for children ages 4 to 16, with different levels of difficulty, or varied adult participation,” adds Al Marshoudi.
Coinciding with UAE Innovation Week, the festival aims to encourage Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning among pupils.
Al Marshoudi says she loves the fact that kids can take home anything they create at the festival.
“Kids will harness their creativity, learn about recycling, take what they made to show and tell at school, or to share on social media or recreate at home – there’s so much they can do from what they see and learn at the festival,” she says. “I think it’s going to be really amazing.”
Here are six unmissable activities during the 10-day festival.
Drop-in: Have your DNA and eat it too!
This tasty science experience allows children to build their own DNA sequence using sweets.
“Anything DNA-related was very popular last year, with kids making DNA necklaces then eating them,” says Al Marshoudi. “We’ve developed this activity even further this year, but I won’t divulge too many details – it’s a surprise.”
• Umm Al Emarat Park, for ages 9 and over
Stage show: #Error 404 – The Exploding Code Show
“This is a really nice show for all ages that’s a mix of audience interaction with live coding and explosions,” says Al Marshoudi.
“It defines computer science for children and tackles how to solve problems using the imagination and problem-solving skills.”
• Umm Al Emarat Park, for all ages
Stage show: Y Science to Hawaii
This live show about gases focuses on Mrs Y and her attempts to prevent her assistant, Ma’rouf, from going to Hawaii.
“This regional show from Jordan will teach kids about gases, volcanoes, the formation of clouds, liquid-nitrogen clouds and an elephant toothpaste volcano that looks like an elephant trunk – I’m sure it will be very popular,” says Al Marshoudi.
• Al Ain Zoo, for all ages.
Workshop: Gadget Factory
The Gadget Factory will teach kids how to solder and assemble their own working electronic gadgets. They can make a face with flashing lights, a lie detector, or a wonky wire that they can use to practise keeping a steady hand. All creations can be taken home.
• Al Ain Zoo, for ages 9 and over
Workshop: Light Fantastic
Children can build an ultraviolet torch that enables them to see marks that are invisible to the naked eye, or paint pictures using light.
In addition, participants can burst balloons with lasers, examine a drop of water using a laser microscope and explore the world of optical illusions, so there will plenty to learn before everyone goes home with their flashlights.
• Umm Al Emarat Park, for ages 5 and over
Workshop and show: Prepare for Take Off
Expected to be an especially popular journey into the science of aviation, this event gives children the chance to be a real-life high-fliers.
“Kids will learn how to be a pilot, how to launch a hot-air balloon, how to fire a jet-engine piston and what future fuel sources, other than petrol, can be used to make engines work,” says Al Marshoudi.
• Umm Al Emarat Park, for all ages.