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Talented Students from ECO Countries participate in “33rd China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest (CASTIC)” and OBOR Teenager Science Summer Camp 2018

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The “33rd China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest (CASTIC)” and OBOR Teenager Science Summer Camp as well as numerous Teachers workshops on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) were held in beautiful Chongqing City of P.R. China from 15-20 August 2018.  Some 35 teams from Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America, South America, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan comprising of 2200 science and technology educators & students and 300 representatives from 50 countries participated in the multiple events. The teams attending from ECO countries included; Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Turkey.

The competition was co-sponsored by the China Association for Science and Technology- CAST (including the CYSC and CACSI of CAST), the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Ecology and Environmental Protection, the General Administration of Sports, the Intellectual Property Office, the National Natural Science Foundation, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, the All-China Women's Federation and the Chongqing Municipal People's Government.

Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology H.E. Mr. Wan Gang opened the event and welcomed all the distinguished guests from all over the world. In his speech, Mr. Wan Gang pointed out that the National Youth Science and Technology Innovation Competition provided a solid support for the cultivation of science and technology reserve talents, and built a broad stage for young people from all over the world to experience the beauty of science and innovation. At present, the world is in the midst of a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial change, he said. He further said; “the world has been experiencing a major change in the past 100 years”. Developing science and technology is a strategic choice for mankind to meet global challenges and achieve sustainable development. The future of scientific and technological innovation and building a community of human destiny, are in the hands of the youth, were his words. He hoped that the science and technology innovation contest would expand the big pattern of openness and innovation, and strived to broaden the children's scientific vision; to spread the seeds of hope, to fully stimulate the children's curiosity and imagination; to guide the children to dare to have dreams and dare to chase the dreams.

The Mayor of Chongqing Municipal Party Committee Mr. Tang Liangzhi in his speech said that young people are the most energetic and have the richest dreams, and they are the living force of innovation and entrepreneurship. It is necessary to continuously strengthen young people's science and technology education, vigorously improve young people's scientific literacy, use practical actions to popularize scientific knowledge, promote scientific spirit, disseminate scientific ideas, and advocate scientific methods, ignite the scientific dreams of young people, and make young people a powerful force for building innovative cities.

High Officials from Chinese Government and guests from relevant scientific and technological educational institutions from the United States, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Tunisia attended the opening ceremony. ECOSF was represented by its President Prof. Manzoor H. Soomro as a special honourable invited guest of the CAST.

At the opening ceremony of the participating teams, the student representatives from all over the country and the international students appeared in debut, showing their love for technological innovation with their youth and vitality.

The welcome banquet was also arranged for the participants of the “Belt and Road Science Summer Camp” on 15 August 2018, wherein, the Chinese and foreign teachers and students had their own cultural performances accompanied by interesting interactive programs, making the whole party happy and harmonious. The splendid cultural performances brought the spiritual distance of young people closer and enhanced the understanding of each country's human resources. It laid a good foundation for enhancing understanding, harvesting friendship and strengthening exchanges.

It is observed that the internationalization level of this competition has been significantly improved, and the number of participating countries and people has reached a record high as compared to previous 32 CASTICs. It has become the largest science and technology competition in Asia with the largest number of participating countries. It was reported that the contest received more than 3,000 innovative projects and works. After the initial evaluation by experts, a total of 358 youth science and technology innovation projects and 201 counselors' science and technology education innovation projects were selected for the final evaluation of the competition. In the same period, a variety of exhibitions and exchanges such as the China-ASEAN Youth Innovation Competition, the One Belt and One Road Youth Technology Science Summer Camp, the China Science and Technology Association Youth Science and Technology Education Exhibition, and the 2018 China Youth Science and Technology Counselor Association Annual Meeting were also held.

Among the other events, OBOR Science and Technology Education Forum was held on 17 August 2018. Dr. He ZHU from the Chinese Association of Children Science Instructors (CACSI) moderated the forum. Nearly 70 Chinese and foreign science and technology teachers and science educators including those from ECO countries participated in the Forum. Eight speakers from five countries shared their experiences in conducting science education in their respective countries and fields.

President ECOSF Prof. Soomro was the main opening keynote speaker of the Forum. His presentation was entitled’ Inquiry Base Science Education (IBSE) for Sustainable Development in the ECO Region”. President ECOSF was participating in the events on the special invitation of the hosts- CAST. Prof. Soomro in his talk introduced the strategies and programmes and results of the Foundation's promotion of inquiry science education implementation in ECO countries. He emphasized that technological innovation plays an important role in realizing the sustainable development of human society. Developing inquiry-based science education and cultivating students' scientific quality are important foundations for realizing scientific and technological innovation. To achieve high-quality science education, it is necessary to unite the power of the government, universities, and social institutions to conduct extensive international cooperation, he stressed.

Mr. Sun Yue, co-founder and technical director of Programming Cats, in his talk said that programming is a language that everybody must master in the future. It is necessary to carry out programming related learning from a young age. The shortage of teachers is a huge challenge for universal programming education. He introduced the teacher training conducted by the Programming Cat and the use of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) teacher to assist the real teacher to carry out the teaching related situation.

Professor Luo Xingkai, Director of the Institute of Science Education at Guangxi Normal University, introduced a new youth science and technology event, the Xinghua International Youth Science and Technology Games. The various events in this event are full of fun and challenges, and the cost is extremely low, which has aroused great interest from the science and technology teachers at home and abroad, and asked how to participate.

Dr. Ken Silburn, Chairman of the Association of Southwestern Teachers of Australia, Mr. Hakim, Head of the Alma'soem Technology Club in Indonesia, Mr. Trabelsi, Head of the IDEL Private School in Tunisia, Mr. Asif Rajput and Ms. Saba Chachar, the teachers from the Sukkur IBA University Community Colleges in Pakistan introduced their institutions and said that the Science education and the organization of scientific and technological activities have been shared from the aspects of technology curriculum, event organization management and STEM event design concepts in the institute.

The speakers at the conference agreed that although the “Belt and Road” countries and regions have different cultures and different education systems at different stages of social development, they fully recognize that science education is responsible for cultivating future responsible citizens and realizing humanity. The sustainable development of society is of great significance. Science educators in all countries should work closely together to provide young people with more opportunities to receive high-quality science education and participate in scientific and technological activities.

Under the Belt and Road Teenager Science Summer Camp, a Teachers Workshop on Fusion of OBOR Civilizations Curriculum recently drafted, was also held in Chongqing on the afternoon of August 17, 2018.  The workshop was organized to test for the first time the teachers training module developed under the OBOR Fusion of Civilizations project of Inter-Academy Partnership Science Education Programme (IAP SEP). The STEM Course for the Belt and Road of IAP SEP in collaboration with CYSC & CACSI of CAST and the Handsbrain Education China with a team of science educators from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan (under ECOSF facilitation) entitled; “Ocean Navigation in the Maritime Silk Road”.  The activity practiced was called the “Sailing Ship”. The activity seemed to interested all the teachers very much as they worked in groups and constructed maritime sailing ships based on the ancient Chinese trade voyages. The activity went very successfully and the participants did construct various types of ships which involved all aspects of STEM. Dr. Manzoor Soomro as member of the Global Council of IAP SEP witnessed the whole session and will be reporting to IAP SEP Global Council. At the end, he was asked to share the background of the initiative of IAP SEP for OBOR of China.

The performance of the Iranian team was the best as their ship can carry the heaviest load and could sail in water for longest period! The Team Pakistan also did well in the workshop.

Performance of participants from the ECO countries in the  33rd  was marvellous; where Kazakhstan and Turkey got first places in different categories and Iran and Azerbaijan accumulated high praise and medals. The events have definitely broadened the knowledge and developed the confidence of the attendees. In the closing ceremony of the 33rd CASTIC, President ECOSF was also invited to give first prize awards to various student teams including that from Kazakhstan.

During the stay in Chongqing, President Soomro also visited the Chongqing Museum of Science and Technology and much appreciated to efforts of CAST and its local branch for the efforts of engaging children in science, technology and innovation at a very early age in the museum with so many inspirational exhibits and making workshops where children can play science and technology.

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