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Science fair at Sunbeams

Weeks of hustling and bustling…weeks of hard work…weeks of worrying about projects not being finished on time... Time flew and the day came. On Friday, the 3rd of April, Sunbeams hosted “Science Fair 2009” at its Uttara Campus.

The first thing to catch everyone's eye upon entering the school premises were the colourful posters promoting the different projects. Innovative and exciting, the posters were enough to let visitors know how much the fascinating creations and their hopeful creators were awaiting them.

Classes five to nine participated in the event and from Organic Lip Glosses to Automatic Streetlight Systems, the fair had it all. The students taking part arrived by 8.30 and went through last-minute revisions, clean-ups and leftover arguments before the gates opened to the first guests at nine.

Thanks to the Astronomical Association of Bangladesh, spectators enjoyed a treat before viewing the actual fair. A telescope to view the sun with bare eyes, as well as 3D glasses had been brought and it was one of the best things about the event.

Judges went around, two for each class. They listened patiently to the speeches and created excitement with their praises. Notebooks and pens awaited comments from visitors, reflecting the students' hope.

Many of the spectators used the posters as their guide to the fair. They asked around for specific projects and their specific locations. Class Five, the fresh talents, proved that they were the pilots of the future by coming up with ways to make the world a better place. The prize-winning Windmill, Potato Power, Wind Power and Fruit Power, along with Homemade Hydrogen-water and Flavoured Lipgloss were among many to arouse interest among visitors.

The students of Class Six had outlasted expectations and made the school proud. Among the most-loved, the first prize winning Sound Sensitive Door stole most of the hearts. The other winners Electro Magnet, Magic Chlorophyll and Solar Powered Air Heater were just as incredible. The loud Burglar Alarms caused enthusiasm, as the students displayed their wide imagination by the different ways thought up to catch thieves.

The names of the projects by the Seventh graders were enough to enthrall spectators. Prizes went to The Flying Train - which actually flew The Amazing Eye, Water Carrier and Photocopying Fluid. There were others which amazed the visitors as well, like the Warstam 27 (a robotic arm), The Water Softener, Wiggle Wire, The Floating Paddy Field, The Hydroelectric Power Plant, Invisible Ink and a Class Seven version of the Burglar Alarm.

Through their projects, the eighth graders made visitors feel the advanced science that should take place. The Atomic Football, Copper Plating as well as the winning I.C.E. DNA and the good old Burglar Alarm strengthened the feeling.

The seniormost participants, Class Nine, had taken the fair to a whole new level. Their projects were big. A very helpful creation was the Intellilight, which was an Automatic Streetlight System. Prizes were given to The Integrated Management of Power, House of Tomorrow, Wartech and the highly advertised soap Dr Bubbles.

The fair was open to all until 12.45. After that the students had lunch and got a chance to view other projects. After announcing the winners and applauding the proud inventors, a documentary called Supermassive Blackholes was arranged by the Astronomical Association, which ended at 3.30, when it was time to draw a conclusion to what had been a fun day for everyone.

On Friday, the 3rd of April, the country took a step to the future. Leaders of tomorrow created pride within all. Everybody had worked hard. Everybody was proud of themselves, of their friends. Hats off to the champions however, on a day as superb as that, everybody was a winner.

By Padya Paramita

World Autism Day

2nd April proved to be an extremely memorable day for those who were present at the Public Library during an even organized by Autism Welfare Foundation (AWF). The event celebrating the World Autism Day and also the 5th year in operation for AWF was undoubtedly a success.

The idea was to re-tell the stories of the children faced with autism, how they go throughout life being ignored and left-out, through no fault of their own. The people present lived through the ordeals as the guardians of the children narrated their tales. After the recital of the Qu'ran and after the children had presented the chief guest, Mr. Enamul Haque Mostafa Sharif, the Minister for Social Welfare, the magazine launched by AWF was unveiled. Then the speeches began.

The audience was enlightened with startling facts. 1 out of every 100 boys was born autistic and the number was ever increasing. Autism numbered more in boys with the ration reading 2:1. The Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) was noted to be widespread and this results in repetitive behavior, speech problems and thus communication difficulties. These problems were highlighted by the first speaker whose child was also suffering from ASD. She concluded her touch by declaring 'I want to live a 1000 years for my child, because without me, he has no one else in this world.' The audience was left in tears, solemnly digesting the revelations that they faced.

The problems that such children faced were becoming more glaringly evident. By this time the laughter had died down and everyone was keenly focusing on whatever was being said. However, this reporter also noted that some people didn't grasp the seriousness of the situation. Society couldn't be changed in a few minutes and this was very true even on this day, as some people in the audience failed to regard the children as normal children with normal emotions, laughing to themselves at times. However, thankfully the number of such people present was insignificant.

Then Chief Guest then took the podium and began his address, one which was very informative and sincere. 'Autistic children should not be ignored but rather be cherished. They are the joys of your life. They mustn't be hidden behind curtains, but shown to the world.' He reminded us once more that autism wasn't the end of the world, but geniuses such as Ernest Hemmingway, Napoleon and even Shakespeare were autistic in their younger years. 'If they could go on to become great than so can your children. Our Prime Minister has told us that we must do more for the children then we actually planned. Autistic children can also become our pride.' He concluded by asking for a master plan to be prepared regarding education, healthcare etc for the children which the government could implement. 'But first society needs to change its outlook towards such children.'

The speeches went on and we learned that even Bangladesh's laws didn't grant any special assistance to people who suffered from ASD. Government help wasn't materializing and the few schools who did aim to educate such children, couldn't work on a large-scale due to lack of funds. Mr. Manzur Ahmed Chowdhury, representing he Jatiya Protibondhi Unayan Foundation also brought our attention to the Law of Inheritance which states that autistic children are not allowed to inherit their parents property. Their only method of an allowance would come from private trusts which needed to be set up. 'I have seen a brother lying in the hospital after a stroke, all alone. His brothers and sisters had left him to die, only because he was autistic and they didn't want to take his responsibility.' He said and then demanded that companies that did help autistic people should be given tax-levies as an initiative for more companies to step forward.

CPR-Director Valerie then came to the mike as a special guest and said in the fluent Bangla that she was happy with the proceedings. Her speech was concluded to a loud applause. Further onwards, we were constantly reminded that autistic children should not be discriminated against and that they could anything they put their mind too, only with a little love, support and encouragement. Though they may take a little more time, patience would yield results. For that the government would have to help and society would have to become tolerant. Gonoforum's secretary Kamrun Nesa reminded us that muslim laws did not say that people with certain conditions not be allowed to inherit property and demanded the state amends its laws.

'These children will not be helped by 100 crore taka, but society must step forward with their aide. These children are out future.'

After the speeches were over, a voice boomed over the audience which continually reminded those present that Autism didn't mean that the children were lost. They still had talents and those talents needed to be nurtured. Love, support and one little opportunity would be enough for the children to showcase their worth to the world. AWF provided that very opportunity as the children under their care, studying in their school, provided a grand show. The parents of children with autism and people concerned formed the AWF on April 4th, 2007 with the aim of providing education, healthcare and all basic facilities that society deprives them off. The importance of making society accept them as normal human beings and proving that they too can make a place for themselves in this world was going to be a difficult, but on 2nd April 2009, they have somewhat achieved that. As the enthralled audience watched the children sing, dance and laugh in stage, hearts melted. Everyone was in a trance mesmerized by the beauty of these special children. Songs from Monpura were sung in solo performances and classical dances were also performed. They sung in beautiful voices and danced in well-orchestrated movements, they enthusiasm and the most genuine smiles brightening up the sky. You had to be there to witness this modern day miracle and really believe in the power of love and care.

The show went on as everyone took stage and the host claimed that they succeeded in bringing Bangladesh on one stage. There were tears of joy, pride and guilt that day, mixed with an emotion or rather an urge to do something for these children. A fire was surely ignited in the hearts of the audience and as they left, they all perhaps had learned to show a little tolerance and would not be so quick to underestimate someone the next time. The AWF should be deservingly saluted for their efforts as they did really prove that autistic children were as capable as any of us. The only hope was that the ignited fire remained and society can manage to change and love these children as their own sons and daughters, for we are all children of the same soil born by the will of the same power. 'My view has changed.' Said 24-Year old Shihab, who was clearly in awe and wonder, just like all of us.

By Osama Rahman and Fariha

6th BDC pre worlds

With 162 debaters from 18 schools with 54 teams and about 80 adjudicators from different schools and universities, this year's pre worlds have been so far the biggest event of BDC. Every debater got new acquaintances, a whole new experience, and endless fun in this event. Hosted by Maple Leaf International School, it started on 6 April and went on for three days. With a break night and the award ceremony this pre worlds was the most intense and the best up till now.

BDC (Bangladesh Debating Council) is fixed on the motive to produce good judges, good chairs, and good debaters, and pre worlds is the best platform for new and aspiring people to shine. Rashedul Hasan Stalin, a founder member of BDC says that 'We are looking forward to training the new adjudicators so proper judgments are made and better debaters are shaped'. The championship started with only eight teams competing in 2005, and now it has grown to 54 teams.

According to him, the debating scenario has changed in a great deal from their time. The English medium schools are more involved in this championship, but the Bengali medium schools are also invited to participate.

Pre worlds decide the top fifty debaters that will participate in the National Camp and from them will be chosen the ones to participate in the World School Debating Championship which was held in Greece last year, and will be held in Qatar this year. Sieving from the 54 teams the final 18 teams were chosen to compete on the octofinal round on the third day and from the eighteen teams four teams went to the semi finals Maple Leaf3, Manarat1, Manarat2 and ESS1.

After a severe competition of Manarat1 vs. Manarat2 and ESS1 vs. ML3, Manarat1 and ESS1 went to the finals and debated on the motion 'Carbon offsets undermines the effort to tackle climate change'.

After a very intriguing debate Manarat1 won the championship. Even though it was the first pre worlds for the ESS team, they put up a pretty good fight! The topic was very interesting and made a fine point about carbon offsets, which is very new to us. Later the award ceremony declared Mubarak Wassey of BIT as the best speaker, and the names of the top ten debaters were announced and crests were awarded to them.

Even though the championship was delayed due to circumstances, the host school was successful in every aspect. 'The security was overwhelming,' says Anik Sinha of ESS. 'The experience in every pre worlds gets better every time!' says Lamia Hafiz from Maple Leaf. The organizers and volunteers deserve a pat in their back for organizing the event!

By Bloo Somebody



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