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Science is made fun at Beirut convention.

Byline: Patrick Galey

Summary: The professor stands maniacally behind a test-tube of angry red liquid. He grasps a steel bottle between forceps and - after pausing for dramatic effect - pours liquid nitrogen into the receptacle. The test tube bubbles furiously and the assembled children gasp in wide-eyed wonder.AaIn a demonstration that wouldn't appear misplaced in the lab of a mad physicist.

BEIRUT: The professor stands maniacally behind a test-tube of angry red liquid. He grasps a steel bottle between forceps and -- after pausing for dramatic effect -- pours liquid nitrogen into the receptacle. The test tube bubbles furiously and the assembled children gasp in wide-eyed wonder.AaIn a demonstration that wouldn't appear misplaced in the lab of a mad physicist, the exhibitor is just one of many wowing the crowd from his stand at "Science Days," Lebanon's second annual convention for science and technology.Aa

Running at Beirut's Hippodrome until October 17, "Science Days" offers the public the chance to learn more about how science affects their everyday lives. In the coming days, inventors, researchers and policy experts from across Lebanon will provide demonstrations and chair discussions on topics such as sustainable energy, water management, robots and the human body.Aa

The event is being run in conjunction with the Swiss government and display stands were made open to the public in the presence of senior officials and a delegation from Geneva.Aa

Najwa Bassil, the organizer of "Science Days," said the event was designed to be educational while at the same time proving entertaining for those attending.Aa

"The aim of this exercise is to make science enjoyable and fun," she said. "During the course of this event scientists will unveil their secrets to the audience through interactive games that appeal to children, adults and specialists alike."Aa

"We are giving ideas to people today. We are trying to explain how people can save energy instead of polluting, that's our target," said Serge Sallouf, from Science Village Middle East.Aa

On sale were a range of renewable energy gadgets, from solar-powered mobile phone chargers to a toy car that runs on water.Aa

"These are symbols for what we can do in bigger terms," said Sallouf. "We are trying to refresh people's knowledge. Lebanon is getting so polluted now. The electricity in Lebanon is not working and there are too many cars producing too much pollution."Aa

Science Village will open in Beirut in January and is hoping to target school children in a bid to educate the next generation about the importance of harnessing sustainable energy and cut Lebanon's often dangerous pollution levels -- a goal shared by many exhibitors at "Science Days."Aa

"Our main target is to give a cultural knowledge to children, from five or six until 17, about everything related to science and industry, in an entertaining, practical and fun way," said Sallouf.Aa

Far from appealing only to hardened scientists, the event's organizers are seeking emphasize the "applications of scientific research and its importance in our daily life" to the general public.Aa

Zeina Ayoub, coordinator of the Youth Association for the Blind (YAB), explained how the latest scientific developments are helping blind people to use computers and "read" websites.Aa

"We train teachers and raise awareness among students" on how to deal with blind students' specific needs, said Ayoub.Aa

Blind students can now install a computer program which reads text on the screen aloud, enabling them to access the same information as a seeing person.Aa

From inventions and discoveries to medicinal advice and astronomy demonstrations, organizers say "Science Days" has something for even the most ardent technophobe. There is even a stand showing members of the public how to make their own cheese.Aa

One of the keynote discussions will see Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud join a panel of experts in a round table debate to mark the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Convention on Human Rights.Aa

"[The discussion] is to demonstrate the integral role that laws have in the quest to improve human conditions -- our primary scientific legacy," said Bassil.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Oct 16, 2009
Words:696
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