The confidence and communication skills of over 500 higher education students in Abu Dhabi have been boosted by world-class science communication training to prepare them to deliver the first edition of the Abu Dhabi Science Festival.
The students, most of whom are studying science and technology related subjects at five higher education institutions in Abu Dhabi Emirate, took part in a two-day training program to become Abu Dhabi’s first ever science communicators for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Science Festival. Internationally benchmarked training demonstrated how to communicate complex scientific concepts in an engaging and entertaining manner that will appeal to the local community.
Student Sumaya Omar Saleh Al Zubaidi said: "I would’ve never imagined that I’m capable of this – standing up on stage, engaging an audience with a scientific demonstration and enjoying it – I just didn’t know I had it in me before this training."
Abu Dhabi’s first ever Science Festival, which runs from 18 to 26 November, is aimed at sparking the interest of Abu Dhabi children in science, technology and innovation (STI). Key to the Festival’s success is the use of local science communicators.
Several students said the training had improved their communication and public engagement skills, lifted their confidence, and taught them teamwork. Furthermore the training fuels the students’ excitement towards STI careers post their graduation.
Mohamed Mira, another student and trainee science communicator, said the training was great. “This is the best training experience that I’ve ever had – in two days I feel my confidence and communication skills have been lifted to a totally new level – these new skills will help me engage the children at the Festival and will be a great asset for my career and in life.”
The Festival - an initiative of Abu Dhabi’s Technology Development Committee – engaged an elite team of science communication trainers, headed by well-known science communicator and television personality Tom Pringle, aka Dr Bunhead, was engaged to run the program.
Pringle said successful science communicators convey both the Wow! and the Aha! moments. “Getting the Wow! reaction from an audience is great – but if understanding (Aha!) doesn’t follow, then they are just entertainers.”
He added that the impact of the training was remarkable. “Many students were nervous at first but within two days they were standing before an audience with charm and confidence.”
TDC recognized the pivotal role of higher education students in delivering the Festival and achieving deep community engagement. The science communicators will be role models for children visiting the Festival and become ambassadors for science in the community.
This unique exercise, which will be repeated in future Abu Dhabi Science Festivals, was aided by the contribution from local higher learning institutions and the equally important support from parents of the participating students.
The Abu Dhabi Science Festival will be one of the largest hands-on science events in the world, bringing over 150 exciting informal science learning experiences to Abu Dhabi in a variety of spectacular shows, interactive exhibits and fun workshops.
TDC has joined forces with its education partner, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), as well programming partners Edinburgh International Science Festival and 1001 Inventions. The partnership with ADEC supports curriculum reforms by engaging students in fun, active learning experiences outside the classroom.
Tawazun and Dolphin Energy sponsoring the Festival which is one of many strategic initiatives that TDC will launch to popularize STI in Abu Dhabi in support of the Emirate’s long-term human capital development plans and as part of TDC’s mandate to help elevate Abu Dhabi to a world-class center for science, technology and innovation.
The TDC story: 2011
The Abu Dhabi Policy Agenda and Economic Vision 2030 have clearly shown the Abu Dhabi government’s desire to build a knowledge based economy. By 2030, Abu Dhabi will be an Emirate in which the benefits of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) pervade every aspect of life – empowering the Emirate, transforming the economy and inspiring the people.
TDC was established to support, supervise and coordinate the development of STI in the Emirate. It will be responsible for the incorporated planning and monitoring of Abu Dhabi’s STI plan to ensure a globally competitive STI base in the Emirate, to support the creation of a vibrant enterprise base and to foster world class talent with the right skills and attitudes.
To achieve these goals, TDC is pursuing a broad program of change in five key policy areas: human capital, research and development, enterprise development, infrastructure, and laws and regulations.
These programs, in conjunction with others across Abu Dhabi, aim to further support the elevation of Abu Dhabi to a world-class center for science, technology and innovation.