A group of 28 children were given the opportunity to become young engineers during a workshop on the third day of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, which runs until 28th April at Expo Centre Sharjah.
The hour-long Bridge Design workshop was part of the 10th edition of the festival, themed ‘Your Future Just a Book Away’.
The children, aged between six and 10, were asked about engineering and what the world would be like without engineers. They were told about vital elements brought about by engineers, such as air-conditioned buildings, airplanes, cars, cellphones, computers and television sets.
As they listened attentively during the workshop, they learnt that mechanical engineers are inventors, who use math and science to invent and design machines and solve real-world problems.
They guessed the different kinds of engineers, including chemical, electrical, aerospace, mechanical, software, civil, biomedical and environment.
They were also challenged to act like young engineers and build their own bridge, after being told of the different types of bridges, including beam, truss, suspension and floating.
Using candies and toothpicks, the children were able to identify structurally strong geometric shapes which can support heavy loads.
"This develops curiosity and helps them put into practice and application the science and math concept, which is what they’re learning at school, in a real scenario," said Myrna Masin, science teacher at Engineering for Kids in Dubai. "It’s a hands-on activity which gets them thinking. They also have to test it to understand what goes right and wrong, and fix it."
She spoke of the importance of learning engineering disciplines in such a fast-paced and high-tech world.
The festival’s events span several programmes, under the main themes of Kids Activities, Cultural Programmes, Cultural Cafe, Kids' Creative Cafe, Social Media Cafe and Cookery Corner. SCRF 2018 also features a series of international theatrical performances like ‘Tuta and Monkey Cheetah’, and the ‘Island of Kids’ Area’ that combine education, fun and entertainment to highlight the values of honesty to young visitors.
A prime highlight of the festival this year is its first ever 3D Book Exhibition, featuring 250 pop-up books from the 3D Book Centre in Forli, Italy. The books have been handpicked by the exhibition curators to represent eight different periods of time. One of SCRF’s mainstays, the Sharjah Exhibition for Children’s Books Illustrations, is featuring 355 artworks by 104 illustrators from 32 countries this year.