Egypt's Planetarium Science Centre activities for Rio+20

22 February 2012 | News story

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center will mark Rio+20 with a simulation of the globe and pressing sustainability issues on seven continents. Read about this and other 2012 activities.

"A New Sustainable Egypt" submitted Maissa Azab on behalf of CEC member Ms. Hoda Elmikaty, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center

It is no secret that, with increasing pollution, global warming and climate change; dwindling natural resources and biodiversity; and impending food, water and energy crises, sustainability is an issue and a necessity that is on the rise. It occupies the minds of the majority of the scientific community and the well educated. But, what about those who are not interested in science or those who are intimidated by it? Those who are only moderately educated or not at all? Those who are not privileged enough to have the time or the means to reflect on global issues and take action?

The first Egyptian science center and a pioneer of science communication in the North Africa and Middle East region, the mission of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center (PSC) is to promote science and technology among Egyptian school students and the public at large, demonstrating and emphasizing their relevance to everyday life. View slides of PSC >>

A major aspect of the PSC’s role, as any other science center, is to raise and increase awareness about contemporary global issues. To really fulfill their missions, science centers are required to take a proactive approach towards reaching out to the masses to alert, educate and guide them towards sustainability and a cleaner, healthier and safer future.

Within this context, in its ten years of operation since 2002, the PSC has given special attention to global issues through ongoing and annual activities and events, which include the School Year Program dedicated to school groups, the Summer and Mid-Year Programs tailored for students on vacation, as well as the annual Science Festivity, and the World and Arab Environment Days celebrations.

Throughout the same strategy, the Center has also developed and conducted a myriad of workshops and other hands-on and interactive activities dedicated to environmental issues, conservation and efficiency, in addition to the interactive exhibition “Biodiversity: Play and Learn!”, the first to be entirely developed and fabricated by the PSC Team.

Action associated with the Rio+20 Summit

In 2012, the PSC, as well as the North Africa and Middle East Science centers network (NAMES), of which the PSC is a founding member, are partaking in global action associated with the Rio+20 Summit. This includes conducting activities in parallel to the Planet under Pressure (PUP) conference to take place in London, 26-29 March.

PUP coincides with the 6th Science Festivity organized this year on 28-29 March under the overarching theme of “Natural Sciences: Sun and Earth”. The Science Festivity is a main public event that gives science a presence in the community, and suits people of all ages and different backgrounds. Visitors of the Science Village experience the pleasure of lifelong learning by participating in the various entertaining activities offered; whether with family, friends, or on their own.

Among the purposes of this year's activities is to raise the public's awareness of the importance of conserving our limited natural resources, and preserving the environment through increasing knowledge about the impact of phenomena that take place on the Sun on the nature of our Mother Earth.

  • The PSC will dedicate one of the booths in the Science Festivity Village to a PUP-related activity entitled “PSC World Park”. The activity, in which animators will work every 15 min with 20 students, will be a simulation of the globe with its seven continents. 

The seven continents will be dealt with as seven different stops. At each stop the scientific content delivered will deal with the most aggravating environmental problems prevailing the countries of this continent. For example,

  1. Africa: water scarcity and depletion of environmental resources;
  2. Antarctica: ice melting;
  3. North America: industrial pollution and climate change;
  4. South America: water pollution;
  5. Asia: incessant increase of human population leading to land corrosion and destruction of natural habitats of different species, and overfishing;
  6. Europe: deforestation;
  7. Australia: introduced plants and animals, aka invasive species.

Sustainability Kit for ages 8-11

Another project the PSC is currently planning is the “Sustainability Kit”, to be developed for this year's World and/or Arab Environment Day celebration. The sustainability kit targets school students, 8-11 years of age.

“Science on the Go” bus

Moreover, in collaboration with the Research, Development & Innovation Program (RDI) and the American University in Cairo (AUC), the PSC is developing a science bus program entitled “Science on the Go”, which targets school students, 9-12 years of age.

The purpose of the “Science on the Go” bus is to deliver hands-on science activities and exhibits to school students within school premises, providing them with an enthusiastic ambience that takes them out of the school mood. It features four rooms representing the four most important rooms of any house; kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room. Different activities will be conducted and discussed in each room including nutrition, environment, energy, chemistry, among others.

Sustainability is a far richer concept than meeting material needs, surviving, or keeping a degraded planet from getting worse. A truly sustainable community supports the health and quality of life for present and future generations. Formal and informal educators are in a prime position to be able to weave these basics throughout all educational stages. Whether they start with an environmental issue or with fundamental ecological principles, educators can nurture the knowledge, skills, and values essential to sustainable living. And, that is what science communicators at the PSC are aiming at, especially now with the dawn of a new and improved Egypt, which will hopefully also be a Sustainable Egypt.

For more information, contact Maissa Azab at maissa.azab@bibalex.org