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POST TIME: 13 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 September, 2018 12:32:13 AM
Inter-College Science Fest
Maria Mohsin

Inter-College Science Fest

In the early morning of August 31, the girls of Holy Cross College were seen busy completing arrangements for a special event they would be hosting that weekend. They were soon ready to greet their guests _ students of 19 other colleges, their relatives and some famous personalities _ who started arriving from 8:30am that Friday morning. And within a few hours, the college campus was filled with exuberant youngsters, chattering about exciting new ideas that could make the future better.

This scenario played out at the 16th Inter-College Science Festival 2018 that took place recently on the premises of Holy Cross College at Tejgaon in the capital. Holy Cross College Science Club arranged the two-day event, with ‘Where Curiosity Ignites Revolution’ as this year’s theme.

“From scientific breakthroughs to social revolutions, everything has its own significance, own importance. It is our responsibility to introduce them to the new generation. Necessity is not the mother of invention anymore, it's our curiosity that leads us to deeper mysteries of nature, encourages us to have creative thoughts. That’s why we have organised this science festival with the theme ‘where curiosity ignites revolution’,” said Joyce Gomes, a 2nd year student and vice-president of Holy Cross College Science Club (HCCSC).

The participating students justified the theme with their concepts and presentations at the event. They covered all topics, from maths and IT to geography and psychology, and put forward new ideas that could be used for developing a better future. The budding scientists from 19 city colleges took part in different activities, like project display, criminal investigation competition, quiz contests, ‘turn the coat’ competition, Olympiad, Rubik’s Cube contest, science-based story writing, science-themed scrap books and wall magazines. There were about two dozen interesting projects on display. The projects were categorised into physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, geography and information technology (IT) sections.    

A group from Holy Cross College demonstrated an easy method to turn sea water into pure drinking water. Another group from the college showed how plastic could be recycled and used to make eco-friendly roads. Boys from Birshreshtha Munshi Abdur Rouf Public College showed how the Internet could be powered using light energy, and they named the system ‘Lifi’. Not only science students, those from business studies and humanities groups also presented their inventions in geography and psychology.

Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, a popular science fiction writer and professor of computer science and engineering (CSE) at Shahajalal University of Science and Technology, who was the chief guest at the opening ceremony, remarked: “When you ask any child about their aim in life, you will likely get the answer ‘doctor’ or ‘engineer’. Why do parents push their children towards these professions? Why being a doctor, an engineer or a scientist is considered the only successful career? Our society has to come out of that mind frame. We have to explore every career field and come up with new ways to develop those fields. Invention is not only done by scientists, curiosity and necessity can make anyone an inventor.”

In the chemistry category, St Joseph Higher Secondary School and Holy Cross College won prizes for their projects ‘the future of fuel’ and ‘fighting drought through increasing food productivity’ respectively. Ismail Isme Azam, a member of the St Joseph School group that won the first prize, said ‘the future of fuel’ project showed how converted human waste could fulfil the need of fuel in the future.

The biology category was won by Adamjee Cantonment College, Holy Cross College and Dhaka Residential Model College for their projects on ‘save the rivers of Bangladesh’, ‘multiple uses of water hyacinth’, and ‘natural burn wound healing’ respectively. For their top-prize winning project ‘natural burn wound healing’, Noor Mohammad, Noimul Niloy and Akiar Rashid Galib of Dhaka Residential Model College displayed how homemade remedies, especially fish skin, could heal burn wounds very quickly and easily.

Dhaka Residential Model College and Holy Cross College also won in the physics category with their projects ‘human detectable robot’ and ‘gravity light and green energy’ respectively.

In the IT (information technology) category, St Joseph Higher Secondary School, Holy Cross College and Government Science College won for their projects on ‘line tracker’, ‘automated wheelchair’, and ‘smart hydraulic arm and rescue force’ respectively. Tonmoy Hasan, Taimur Rahman and Sazzad Hossain of Government Science College won first prize for their ‘smart hydraulic arm and rescue force’ project for which they made a computer system to provide smart security.

Holy Cross College won all the prizes in the geography and psychology categories and their projects included some really interesting subjects, like ‘Rohingya refugee resettlement’, ‘water soaking road’, ‘floating land’, ‘concentration diversion’, and ‘deciding degree of conflict’ and so on.  Holy Cross College students Sayeda Ismat Jahan Zarin, Nafisa Islam and Nazia Binte Nazrul bagged the first prize in the geography category for their project that showed how ‘floating land’ could ease our land crisis and accommodate our growing population.  

The Olympiad had topics like maths, physics, chemistry, biology, earth and IT. Holy Cross College, Notre Dame College, Rajuk Uttara Model College, Dhaka College, Dhaka Residential Model College, and SOS Hermann Gmeiner College were winners in different categories of the Olympiad. Dhaka College was the champion and Adamjee Cantonment College was runner-up in ‘turn the coat’ competition where contestants were given a profession and they had to solve a problem related to that job.

After going around the festival, Anisul Hoque, a popular writer and editor of Kishor Alo, said: “It is proven that every single person in this world is born with some talent. Everyone can become an Albert Einstein, a Pablo Picasso, a Sachin Tendulkar, but it all depends on the degree of how much you love your work. To become successful in your profession depends entirely on how much you adore doing your job. And I can see some real science lovers here who have gone beyond their capability and created some amazing projects. I am sure we will definitely find some Einsteins among them in the near future.”

Zafar Iqbal added: “When I was a student, we had very little facilities. We had to struggle to get a basic education. This kind of event was a fantasy for us. We probably never even heard of a science fair, but now our students are blessed with so many opportunities and facilities. And I am happy they are using them in a proper way and I, personally, would love to help them use their opportunities as much as I can.”

Shikha Gomes, principal of Holy Cross College, said: “We feel privileged to host this kind of event as it works as an inspiration for our girls. In our college, we encourage creating a better life more than better results. So, it is the best way to use students’ knowledge and talents, to understand what they are capable of giving our society. I want our girls to not only study science and get good results; I want them to show what they have learned through their work and I want them to work for a better future.”  

In Bangladesh, girls are doing equally well in science at school, but when it comes to pursuing higher degrees or careers, they often do not choose STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. According to the United Nations, women occupy less than 30 percent of research and development jobs in science and technology worldwide.

Regarding little interest of women to have a career in science or technology, Zafar Iqbal opined: “I am very much aware of this situation. I have seen many of my brightest students losing their light like that. Many of my brilliant female students gave up their careers, especially after getting married...... Girls, and their parents, have to understand that they are worth so much more.”

“I advise every girl to complete their studies, get a job, become self-dependent, earn for themselves and their family, and then if they find someone who appreciates their dreams and career in the same way, then get married. To take our country to the top, we need our girls, too, and I feel this kind of events can help to get our girls into action. I tell my students to open up their minds. Science teaches use ‘2+2=4’, but now we have to open our minds to discover how we can make ‘2+2=5’. That’s what invention is nowadays,” the professor added.  

Mohammad Kaykobad, professor of CSE at BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) and Naiyyum Choudhury, a biochemist and former chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, were also present as special guests on the opening day.

Photos: Sumaiya Tasnim,

Holy Cross College.