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Project in Palestine

Science Festival in Palestine

Begining of the cooperation : Celebrating scientific culture and empowering youth in Palestine

While science festivals have spread in many countries over the past twenty years, no nation-wide science festival had ever been organised in Palestine. For the Palestinian society, education and science are believed to be crucially needed to build a healthy society. A nation-wide science festival allows to stress the importance given to science, technologies and overall to education in general.
More specifically, for students in Palestinian universities, a science festival is an opportunity to share their passion for science with younger ones. They can encourage young ones to follow their own path in studying science. They are also empowered as crucial actor of a scientific event.
For the public who attends a science festival, this is a unique opportunity to hear about recent scientific discoveries and to learn about the way scientific research is done. Interestingly they learn about the scientific process that is made possible only through intense questioning, refusal of any argument based on authority, cooperation of numerous people, from all over the world with different background and perspectives. They can thus experience values and attitudes that are at the core of scientific research but also at the core of the concept of citizenship.
A science festival is also an opportunity for schools to initiate various forms of work about science that can be prolonged all year round.
This first science festival has been conceived as a cooperation between France and Palestine, this allows to share the expertise of experienced French institutions (Paris Montagne, Atomes Crochus, Ecole de l'ADN) with emerging Palestinian ones. As well, training sessions have been offered to university students to empower altogether Palestinian organisations, universities and students to lead future festivals.


First Science Festival – November 2010

We are proud to announce that the first Science Festival has been achieved with great success. This Festival has been created by Paris-Montagne together with the network of French Cultural Centres in Palestine and Palestinian Universities. More than 8 000 kids from 6 different cities attended the festival.

A wonderful success for a first event :

From the 2nd to the 10th of November 2010, 8 000 kids attended the festival, half of them being from refugee camps, in collaboration with UNRWA. The festival took place in 6 cities (Gaza, Jerusalem, Bethleem, Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah). The closing ceremony has been held in Ramallah on the 10th of November, which is the World Science Day for Peace and Development. It is interesting to note that through our event and the support of UNESCO we showed that not only recent scientific advancement contribute to peace and development but that sharing scientific culture contributes too.
On an educational perspective, the kids were highly interested in the workshop. The school teachers expressed their will to develop this kind of hands-on activities and are looking for partnerships. In the context of the cooperation with French NGO, some of the contents (exhibits translated in Arabic, games, etc) have been left to be used by local schools. The activities raised not only the enthusiasm of kids, but also of teachers, professors, university student passing by, but also staff in charge of the logistics of schools and universities. For example in Hebron Polytechnic University, some security staff of the university has been instructed on the spot to deliver workshops about physics and chemistry.
The festival also saw the major contribution of universities and in particular Al Quds and An Najah universities who created on their own many workshops. A first training session to science communication, delivered by Paris Montagne, and organised for Palestinian students helped us seize the enthusiasm they have and they request for more training of this kind. This would allow this youth to be fully autonomous to organise events of this kind in the future.

The actors and the funds for the Palestinian Science Festival

The event has been conceived as a collaboration between the network of the French Cultural Centres and Paris Montagne Association, a French NGO with expertise in using science communication as a tool for empowering young people in socially disadvantaged areas (French suburbs), and in areas of conflict (Ex-Yougoslavia).
The network of the French Cultural Centres dealt with the local logistics (finding places where to present the exhibits and workshops) and organised the venue of the public (contact with refugee camps, public or private schools and organization of buses to bring children to the location of the festival). The Cultural bureau of French Consulate in Jerusalem centralised all funding issues as well.

In partnership with the network of the French Cultural Centres, Paris Montagne Association has been in charge of the general conception of the event, of reviewing and selecting content proposals from French as well as Palestinian science communication institutions. Moreover Paris Montagne mentored a group of four French high-school students from it own program (Science Academy program) who contributed by creating a show about immunology, in French and Arabic.
The event has been financially funded by the Arab Bank, the Cultural bureau of French Consulate in Jerusalem, La Voix de l'Enfance NGO, the City of Ivry, the city of Ramallah. The overall budget of this first event has been as little as 45 000 euros. Many NGO and institutions also contributed by sending volunteers or offering contents for free (Paris Montagne, Atomes Crochus, Ecole de l'ADN...).

Perspectives and barriers to overcome :

Palestinian NGO active in science communication brought “creative games” that are sold on the market and offered one excellent clown show (originally produced by the Israeli “Bloomfield science museum” and given to them as a collaboration). We consider critical to empower more Palestinian NGOs, and even small ones. A diversity of actors is key to build a lively community involved in science communication. We also feel that it is critically needed to reinforce science communication about what scientific research is, that it to say science communication that enables kids to ask question and that shows the current research process, and not only science communication that presents facts and current knowledge.
There is an amazing potential to empower Palestinian universities (students and teachers). We shall not miss such an opportunity. They are the one who can easily address questions about how science proceed, letting the young public ask more and more questioning, enhancing his curiosity. We should also strengthen international collaboration as it will still be needed to circumvent the current lack of proper research in Palestinian universities. The barriers that prevent the development of a proper research in Palestine also prevent the production of science communication content that fully addresses what scientific exploration is about.
On the long term perspective, consolidating a yearly science festival is also a way to promote new educational tools that can be imported in schools, thus allowing kids to be exposed to science in an interactive way all year round.

Second Edition - November 2011

The second edition has been successfully achieved. It was held in the same cities than the previous one (Jerusalem, Naplouse, Hebron, Gaza, Ramallah). This year the festival was organized by the palestinian ministry of education and palestinian NGOs in collaboration with the network of the French Cultural Centres, which illustrate the willingness of transfering the organisation to local actors.

Paris Montagne move toward a focus on empowering university students to take the lead in such a festival. Ten days before the festival started, Leïla Perié, Anne Le Goff and Livio Riboli-Sasco trained 120 students from 3 universities (Al Najah University of Naplouse, Palestine Polytechnic University of Hebron, AL-Quds University of Jerusalem). They learned the basics of science communication, experienced how to draw links with ongoing scientific research and explored their relationship to knowledge. They even questionned they way they learn at university, hoping for more interactive methods to be implemented in their curriculum and not only during a festival.

Moreover Paris Montagne mentored once again a group of four French young science communicators from it own programs (Science Academy program) who contributed by creating a scientific show in French, English and Arabic. Their trip to Israel and Palestine was sponsored by the city of Ivry sur Seine and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research.

Dernière modification : 18/04/2012 16:21
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