Science Fuse is giving young people in Pakistan the unique opportunity to learn science in school. Grese Sermaxhaj caught up with the organisation to find out more.
Youth Time brings to you Pakistan’s first science-based audio stories which are scripted and recorded in both English and Urdu languages.
This is just one of many achievements of the Science Fuse – a social enterprise working to promote science education among young learners, with the aim to make science research an equally viable choice for youngsters.
It works to change how science is perceived by and communicated to children from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in Pakistan.
Arooj Khalid, Creative Project Manager at Science Fuse, spared some of her time to introduce our readers to the organisation challenging the widespread perception in Pakistan that considers science as an “expensive” thing that requires fancy laboratories and white lab coats.
Most low-income schools do not have science labs and fancy equipment, but with Science Fuse’s engagements this has changed, and it keeps changing with every day passing by.
Let’s learn more about the organisation inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and more.
Science Fuse Supporting Girls
Starting this interview, Khalid mentions STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and how it relates to their work.
Science Fuse curates informal STEM learning programs to nurture interest and understanding of science among children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
“We believe that developing scientific affinity and literacy is critical for the next generation because no matter what our children grow up to be, they will grow up in a world that requires scientific literacy and critical thinking skills,” she says.
The scientific literacy and science capital in Pakistan is fairly low, especially among girls from low-income communities.
“According to one study, 100% of female students complain about their natural ability to succeed in STEM-related career paths. 63% of school staff members surveyed in a study also note that girls face greater barriers in science education and that their male counterparts might have higher competence for STEM subjects,” she further asserts.
Khalid adds that, in order to tackle this situation, Science Fuse has curated informal STEM Engagement Programmes. Including here teacher training, science clubs, workshops, direct and indirect engagement with children across Pakistan.
“We believe that scientific literacy is not only important to foster an interest in STEM-related fields but also to create opportunities for social mobility, scientific advances, critical thinking, and active citizenship in Pakistan,” she emphasises.
Science Fuse focuses on teaching children ‘science inquiry’ skills, which are skills that scientists use in their work.
She strongly believes that once children learn these skills, then they can investigate questions at home and think critically about the answers that they discover.
“We want children to go through the process of inquiry and have eureka moments to make learning science meaningful and a joyful experience.”
How Children Develop Curiosity and Why It’s Important
Science Fuse believes that informal and interactive learning environments like Science Fuse can and should play an important role in science education, and we dedicated this part of the piece on how they achieve this.
“As soon as we are born, we start learning things informally. If there are resources and programs that popularize science in these environments, increased visibility of scientific heroes,” she explains, while adding that this applies especially to ones who are culturally relevant, and increased scientific literacy, children develop a great sense of wonder, curiosity, and critical thinking skills.
Science Fuse is currently creating informal science learning resources and many engagement programs.
“One of the resources we are creating is Pakistan’s first science-based audio stories which are scripted and recorded by Science Fuse in both English and Urdu languages.
“We broadly categorised these stories into two themes: ‘Incredible Questions of Science’ and ‘Remarkable Women Scientists’.
“Children, and even adults, can enjoy and learn from these stories without having prior in-depth knowledge of complicated scientific concepts.”
Science Fuse’s stories enhance scientific literacy, teach the history of science, celebrate women scientists and focus on encouraging a growth mind-set, and developing skills such as grit and tolerance.
They feature women scientists as role models; something that is amiss in both Pakistan’s school curricula and popular culture.
Science is for Everyone
To promote the idea that science is not something inaccessible that can only be performed in a white coat or in a costly lab full of chemicals, Science Fuse has also designed, tested, scripted, and recorded a collection of experiment videos.
“These experiment videos show and teach children how to perform simple experiments using household or low-cost items.
“These experiment-based lessons also include our science communicators introducing the experiment and explaining the science behind it.”
They have used examples from everyday life to connect scientific processes and the things that children see in the world around them, hence making scientific concepts relevant for children.
“These experiment videos also allow children to see science experiments happening in an environment that is much like their own: a garden, a kitchen, a living room, a backyard.
“We have tried to propagate the idea that science is not something inaccessible that can only be performed in a white coat or in a costly lab full of chemicals.”
“As long as your inner scientist is alive, the entire world is your lab,” she adds.
Science Fuse is also curating several DIY Science books featuring 12-year-old Gul Rukh who loves to perform science experiments at home.
We have designed these books using the science capital teaching approach. They feature experiments that can be performed at home or school.
Thanks to Science Fuse’s work, students have built small science labs in their gardens and kitchens.
They have learned to use everyday objects to perform science experiments on a budget and use their critical thinking and science inquiry skills.
Science Fuse’s Wonderful Programmes
Among many other engagement programs, Digital Science Club, Scientists of Tomorrow, and Year of Science are the most popular.
Digital Science Club includes a series of weekly engagements with children that allow them to explore diverse scientific themes within mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry.
There, Science Fuse performs science experiments, investigations, or activities which require simple, everyday materials that are relatively inexpensive, ensuring that children can do science on a budget!
Besides, Science Fuse has a digital informal science education programme that engages both teachers and their students simultaneously called Scientists of Tomorrow.
This aims to encourage an interest in science among students and nurture their sense of natural curiosity.
Teachers belonging to diverse socio-economic backgrounds are trained in science communication, leadership, pedagogical skills, and technical digital skills, such as using Google Drive.
Also, the organisation makes sure that they distribute Science Fuse’s carefully crafted learning resources to teachers over a period of a year.
This through the Year of Science programme. This is specially adapted to communities and schools that have limited internet access and therefore run solely through WhatsApp with some teacher training sessions on Zoom as well.
You can also find more details by just clicking HERE.
Photos: Science Fuse
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