Syed Mukarram Nazeer, Canada Correspondent
The 12th annual “Abdus Salam Science Fair” was held virtually on 4 October 2020. This science fair is held every year for Jamaats of Greater Toronto Area, at Aiwan-e-Tahir, located in Baitul Islam Mosque Complex.
Earlier this year in March, the event was postponed due to Covid-19. At the time of postponement, there were more than 100 projects. The National Talim Department sought permission from Amir Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Canada to hold a virtual event instead. Approval was received and preparations started.
A video was prepared and circulated to all Jamaats across Canada, guiding how to prepare, record, and submit videos of science projects. Help was sought from Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Canada and Lajna Imaillah Canada to convey the message across Canada.
A huge task was the management of submitted videos. The talim IT team lead by Shahid Mirza Sahib, worked day and night to accomplish this. All videos were classified into one of four categories; grade 5-8 boys, grade 5-8 girls, grade 9-12 boys and grade 9-12 girls. These four groups were then assigned to judges in two phases.
In the first phase, a team of judges assessed a group of 10 projects of each category and selected the top three projects. Winning projects in each category were then pooled, and another team of judges picked the top three projects for each category. In addition, projects for 4th and 5th positions were chosen for consolation prizes.
Invitation letters were sent to dignitaries who had accepted the invitation for the March event, many of whom indicated that they will join on the virtual science fair as well.
On 4 October 2020 a live session was held for the virtual Abdus Salam Science Fair for the first time. The event started with the recitation of the Holy Quran by Faran Tariq Sahib and its translation by Ausaf Ahmad Sahib.
The coordinator for the fair, Dr Aamir Minhas Sahib introduced the event and welcomed all guests. This was followed by a documentary about the contributions of Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam Sahib, prepared by the National Talim Department.
National Secretary Talim, Dr. Hameed Mirza sahib announced winners in all groups. Videos of winning projects were shown to all audiences.
Various dignitaries shared their impression of the event. They appreciated efforts of the Jamaat to organise such a science fair. They commended contribution of Professor Dr Abdus Salam Sahib in the field of science as well as a philanthropist who used his personal money to fund laboratories for schools around the globe. They were particularly impressed by the enthusiasm of participants and the quality of projects.
One of the councillors announced that she will move a motion at the next council meeting to showcase contributions of early Muslims in science and other fields, in the Muslim Heritage month. Guests included Councillor Sandra Racco, Councillor Rosanna DeFrancesco, Councillor Marilyn Lafrate, and Trustee Nadeem Mahmood. Undergraduate Programme Director at Ryerson University, Professor Dr Jahan Tavakkoli, also attended the event.
National Secretary Talim, Dr Hameed Mirza Sahib thanked invited guests, audience members, students, volunteers, and all those who contributed to make the event a success. He also pointed out that it is the desire of Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa to encourage Ahmadi students to go into the field of science and set their eyes to win the Nobel Prize. As such, the Abdus Salam Science Fair is a forum where our students can exhibit their talent, learn from each other, develop an interest in science, and begin their journey towards winning a Nobel Prize.
In the end, Amir Jamaat Canada, Lal Khan Malik Sahib, gave his concluding remarks. He highlighted various awards and achievements of Professor Dr Abdus Salam Sahib that were given to him in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the field of science.
He said that Dr Salam was not only a Noble Laureate but also a philanthropist who helped establish laboratories, libraries, and schools in developing countries as well as offering scholarships to poor students. He shared his knowledge with less fortunate ones without any discrimination of race, religion, or ethnicity.
Amir Jamaat Canada further stressed that it is the duty of every student to pay full attention to their education and try hard to become the next Abdus Salam.
There were a total of 105 scientific projects submitted by students, of which 12 were from outside Greater Toronto Area Jamaat. Their breakdown is as following:
1. Boys 5-8 (Al-Khwarizmi) 48 videos received
2. Boys 9-12 (Jabar Ibn Hayyan) 19 videos received
3. Girls 5-8 (Abu Ali Sina) 29 videos received
4. Girls 9-12 (Ibn Haytham)
10 videos received Approximately 500 members joined in the live virtual ceremony while more than 1,100 watched the posted videos.