Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

Science Lantern illuminates Ramadan in Egypt

<img alt=“Science lantern.jpg” align=right src=“http://blogs.nature.com/houseofwisdom/images/Science%20lantern.jpg” width=“280” height=“185” />The Science and Society Initiative at the American University in Cairo (AUC), which focuses on science outreach to the community, launched a new programme during Ramadan called “Science Lantern” to promote science literacy in Egypt.

Lanterns are synonymous with Ramadan in Egypt, when children buy thousands of them as a form of celebration.

“We are planning weekly science outreach activities during Ramadan as a reminder of the importance of science literacy and to counter the wave of drama and TV programs that invade our homes and minds,” said Alaa Ibrahim, astrophysicist at AUC and head of the initiative.

The events are held every Thursday at 9:00 pm local time during Ramadan at the AUC’s Tahrir campus. On its Facebook page, the initiative outlines each day’s programme and what visitors can expect on that day.

Attendance is free and there are activities suitable for adults as well as children as young as six. These include dialogues with leading Egyptian scientists, interactive shows, group discussions, science presentations and competitions. All the material used is then made available on the <a href=” http://www.facebook.com/groups/ScienceAndSociety”>Science and Society’s page on Facebook.

The campaign is planned and organized by a group of university students from various universities in metropolitan Cairo. “The advent of Ramadan during the summer holiday is an opportunity that ought to be invested in activities that benefit the community at large,” student lead organizer Ahmed Abdel-Ati said in a press release.

According to the initiative’s Facebook page, those who attend all four events and answer a short quiz at the end will receive a “science literacy” certificate from AUC.

Ismail was very happy with the turnout following the first event which saw 200 people participate.

Science Lantern is not the first science outreach programme that the Science and Society Initiative started in Egypt. They also prepared and held the first and second annual Cairo Science Festival, which takes place in May and involves the general community to interact with internationally-respected scientists and science material.

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