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<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 134 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

December 19, 2003

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Fest for Thought

Mustafa Zaman

Spacefest is a fairly new concept in our culture. The word was first introduced to the public when the Bangladesh Astronomical Association (BAA) organised their first Mohakash Utshab or Spacefest back in 1996.

After that, a string of programmes and two subsequent Spacefests, one in 1996 and the other in 1999 pushed the name of BAA into the popular domain. “The huge support we are now getting from different organisations was something of a dream ten years back. For many people thought we were too young to have undertaken such an endeavour,” says Mash-Hur-Ul-Amin, who had been at the helm of things at BAA.

As the present Director of the organisation that took its first step way back in 1988, and as the chairperson of the Spacefest-2003, Amin believes that their present credibility is the result of their consistent programmes surrounding astronomy and other science related subjects. “The uninterrupted publication of the Mohakashbarta, the science magazine of the association, certainly paid dividend. With this we have demonstrated that young people still have the ability to lead the way and even stay the course,” Amin reasons.

Children participating in making of Columbia-- the U.S. space shuttle, during the last spacefest.

The publication that was launched back in 1988 as a thin volume of scientific writings aiming at young people has now grown into a full-blown, book-size, fat journal. “We are grateful that Graphosman, an organisation working in the area of cartography, is giving us full support in both printing and publishing of the journal,” reveals Amin, who had to wade through a lot of difficulties at the beginning of the organisation. Today he has all the reasons to blissfully bask in BAA's success. If one takes into account the kind of response the Spacefest, 2003 has spurred, one will realise that BAA, with their hard work and perseverance, has left those grueling days behind.

Spacefest- 2003, has many sponsors, and more are willing to lend a hand. This time it is the centenary of invention of the first aeroplane that incited the BAA to organise this festival. The event is hinged around one of the most significant machines of the twentieth century. The contribution of the Write brothers in humans' aspiration to fly and conquer the sky is proverbial. Two of them struck upon this amazing idea of a machine in December 17, 1903, and that auspicious invention had forever changed the history of machine and as well as man.

“Our target group is the school and college-going children, as it is in this formative stage that they need to be inducted to the world of science,” states Amin. It is the development of science and technology that the organisers of BAA have at the back of their mind. “Our aim is to popularise the study and practice of science,” adds Amin. Hence the spacefests and all the other activities that their organisation have taken up.

Though it is an organisation that is run by amateur astronomers and science enthusiasts, their programmes do not always consist of simulations, demonstrations, or theoretical discussions. In fact, in 1997, they built a set of classroom planetarium using the technological support of the expertise developed at Dholai Khal, A place much touted for its ability to copy gazettes and gizmos. The set was sold to Bangladesh Public Administration Training Cntre, which was interested in having one for their classrooms. The barter that followed left the association much fatter in the coffer, and it is from this point on that Amin and his contingent of science enthusiasts, began to think big.

The biggest arrangement so far will be the Spacefest- 2003. It kicks off on December 17, and will continue till the 20th of the month with one off day on the 18th. The venue is the open field of BUET at Palashi. Starting from 3 p.m. of December 17, the day will be marked by different programmes that stretches for next three days. The highlight of the three-day long programme would be the competition of model making, of aeroplane of course, seminars and award giving. Participants are school children, and they will be divided into two groups according to age.

Those who remember the enthusiastic bustle of children working on the model of spaceships, and all fun during the other activities from the last spacefest, will not be willing to give this one a miss.


Inauguration: 3 p.m. December 17.
Displays at the Exhibition Gallery: a. From Icarus of the Write brothers to the space shuttles of today. b. Evolution of the stars. c. Solar System. d. Children's Science Lab. e. Teliscope. f. Old and new astronomical apparatus. g. The planatorium.

Activities: a. A competition of making models of aircrafts on December 19. Air Parabat has sponsored a plane ride for the first three winners from two groups of contestants. The prize winner would be awarded with a return ticket to Singapore courtesy of Singapore Airlines. b. Seminars: December 17, 11 p.m., subject ---“History behind the invention of Aeroplane” presented by Squadron Leader (Rtd) Syed M Akhter. December 20, 2.30 p.m. subjects--- “Motorised Paraglider” presented by Yves Marre and “Ground Effect and Seaplanes” by Anders Korswing. A quiz Contest. d. Award Giving. d. Sky Observation on every evening during the festival.




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