(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
A recent academic gathering in Egypt provided a unique opportunity for young, school-age scientists to participate in a research conference. The event—the first of its kind in the Arab world, as far as I know—provides a model for encouraging more bright young pupils to study science.
The event took place during the second annual international conference of the Egyptian Association for Cancer Research, which featured a panel for young scientists ranging in age from 8 to 16.
Under the theme “Cancer and Biomedical Sciences from Laboratory to Application”, the conference was held in February in cooperation with Aswan University, in the south of Egypt.
The panel for young scientists included five online sub-sessions on topics including cancer, immunology, nanotechnology, and environmental pollution, and other scientific areas. Some 145 young people took part, 34 of whom presented research ideas.
A jury will evaluate the research proposals in terms of idea, design, methodology, presentation, and oral discussions. The best projects will go on to participate in an advanced round of evaluations, and the winners will be presented at a later conference at Aswan University.
“The young scientists delivered their presentations fearlessly and with great confidence. Their serious discussions clearly showed they were very knowledgeable of the topics of the research they presented.”Tarek Kapiel
The Egyptian Association for Cancer Research will grant the best presentation an award and a certificate of approval.
Sohaila Mohamed Galal, a lecturer in zoology at Tanta University, introduced the panel of experienced scholars who spoke to the young scientists.
Elham Mohamed Ali, a professor of environmental and marine sciences at Suez University, discussed with the young scientists how to design and produce their research ideas in a systematic scientific way. Ali is a recent winner of a Kwame Nkrumah Prize for Scientific Excellence in biology and earth sciences.
I was pleased to be on the jury, along with Salem, Ali, and other distinguished Egyptian scientists. Among them were Nehal El-Mashad, a professor of oncology at Tanta University; and Doaa Ghareeb, a professor of biochemistry at Alexandria University.
Enthusiasm and Confidence
The young people participating showed an unparalleled enthusiasm for science and research.
The young scientists delivered their presentations fearlessly and with great confidence. Their serious discussions clearly showed they were very knowledgeable of the topics of the research they presented, and they made great, distinguished efforts to get their presentations out appropriately.
“I call on all scientific bodies in Egypt, and in our greater Arab world, to adopt follow this example, to pay attention to children’s scientific knowledge, and to ensure their participation in scientific events.”Tarek Kapiel
In turn, the young scientists’ parents thanked the association and the scientists involved in managing and refereeing the sessions.
I can only add my thanks to the management of the Egyptian Association for Cancer Research for providing this opportunity to increase interest in science culture for young people, to attract children into this magical world, and to reduce students’ reluctance to study scientific subjects.
My best wishes go to the participating children to continue their excellence and achieve what they aspire to in their future.
Finally, I call on all scientific bodies in Egypt, and in the greater Arab world, to follow this example of paying attention to children’s scientific knowledge, and ensuring their participation in scientific events.
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These steps will help build public awareness of the importance of science and research in solving current problems; improving the lives of individuals and societies; and instilling the spirit of belonging and hope for a prosperous future for our countries, and for our Arab peoples, with the help of the new generation of children and youth.
Tarek Kapiel is an assistant professor of botany and microbiology at Cairo University and a science writer, editor and translator. He is also a member of and an adviser to numerous academic and government scientific organizations in Egypt.
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