University of Central Asia (UCA) Summer Camp hosted Science Day

The halls of the Sinegorie Pansionat resort on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan were recently transformed into a science laboratory when the University of Central Asia (UCA) Summer Camp hosted Science Day.

Led by an international and Central Asian team of teachers and counsellors, the Camp’s 76 Grade 10 students from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan were divided into four groups. Four science stations were set up throughout the site, each with a different experiment. Each group had half an hour to develop a hypothesis, conduct the experiment, assess their hypothesis and generate scientific conclusions and real-world applications based on the experiment. They then moved on to the next station.

Students safely testing chemical reactions with a model volcano.

Students testing chemical reactions with a model volcano

The four stations explored different scientific disciplines and concepts. At two stations, the students utilised their own bodies for research; a biology experiment required them to test their reflexes at various joints and a chemistry experiment involved blind taste-testing to assess different factors impacting taste. One station explored the physics concept of surface tension, using soapy water and coins. At the remaining station, students safely tested chemical reactions with a model volcano.

“Science Day provided exposure to key scientific concepts across disciplines, while allowing our students to practice many other new skills. The experiments allowed them to practically apply academic information and problem solve. Developing and proving or disproving a hypothesis is a key process in critical thinking. Finally, by working in teams, they practiced important collaborative skills,” said Summer Camp Deputy Director Farrah Kamani, who is from Canada.

Students experimenting with different factors impacting taste.

Students prepare for blind taste-testing to assess different factors impacting taste

Students used observation skills during the experiments and had to deduce and discuss why the reactions occurred. They learnt about the importance of developing a hypothesis and conclusions, as well as the process of reassessing their hypotheses. Participants were also expected to apply their newly acquired math and English-language skills following the first two weeks of the Summer Camp.

“I have never done experiments like this at school! I do not consider myself a ‘science person’, but these experiments were interesting. I was really excited about learning about the reflexes and enjoyed the taste experiment. I learned something new!” said Bibizulfiya Kholmamatova who is from Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

“In the physics experiment on surface tension, we had to guess how many coins we could put into a bowl of soapy water before it overflowed. In our hypothesis, we all thought it would only be six coins, but in the end it was thirty seven!” said Bermet Abdykarieva, who is from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

“The science experiments were fun! The biology experiment on reflexes was most interesting because I learnt something new about my body” said Sanzhar Almakyn, who is from Astana, Kazakhstan.

The UCA Summer Camp runs from 17 June to 7 July 2015. The Camp offers a unique academic enrichment experience for participants to improve their English and math skills, receive critical support to enter local or international universities and engage in other activities, including sports, drama, debating, science and field trips, which provide opportunities to practice English-language skills, learn and share experiences.

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