Photos Courtesy of the Al-Iman School.
For 11 years, students from grades three through 11 at the Al-Iman School in Jamaica have conducted fun and educational science experiments as a part of their curriculum.
BY TRONE DOWD
Students at the Al-Iman School in Jamaica spent time right before the holiday season celebrating success and academic excellence thanks to the leadership of their school principal.
For 11 years, the Al-Iman School, a school organized by the muslim community here in Southeast Queens, has held an annual science fair. Students from third grade to 11th grade all are expected to participate in group projects typically due right before a well deserved break from their academic lives.
“It gives them the opportunity to teach themselves and their peers,” science teacher Farah Hassan said. “It motivates them, gives them confidence and increases their self-esteem.
According to Hassan, it is a great way for students to use a combination of their art skills, their math skills, their critical thinking and their their ability to read statistics. The students then report their findings on a display board. Students are then judged based on their findings, presentation and lab report, after which the top three projects are awarded for their efforts.
This year was no exception. Students lined up their projects in the main hall of the school, showing off what they learned in the science field this year. One student, Naina Khan told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that she worked on extracting starch from two types of potatoes to determine which of the two vegetables are better for you in terms of sugar intake. To her surprise and many others, she found an interesting discovery.
“You would think that sweet potatoes contain more sugar because it’s in the name,” she explained. “But it’s not true. Regular potatoes actually contain more sugar. Sweet potatoes are healthier and they have less glucose molecules which make the starch, than regular potatoes.”
Another student, Aliyah Khaiyoum said that she worked on an experiment based on the process of electrolysis.
“For my project, I worked on electroplating a copper brass key,” she explained. “In this case, I have a beaker filled with water and copper sulfate, a cooper key and a brass key as my metal, and a copper electrode.”
As the solution of water and copper sulfate heat up, the electrode absorbs that heat and transfers it to the copper key “through the process of electrolysis.” Because of this process, the brass key actually changes color.
School principal Nassir Ali Akber said that he was thrilled to see his students become so excited about the science field. He said that the objective of the not required part of their curriculum is fun.
“We hope that that impression of learning will remain with them for more than your typical examination will,” Akber said. “We know that when you tell children about a test, they will always become stressed. Very few of them will actually want to become creative during those tests.”
Akber said that by making it a project that they collaborate on, and by making it competition, the kids really get involved and try their hardest to show what they’re capable of and “encourage that spirit.” He said that he believes it also showcases the importance of communication and leadership, two invaluable assets that he says students will make use of well beyond their high school years.
This philosophy is not only applied to the yearly science fair. The Al-Iman School holds several other events including spelling bees, cultural diversity days which the PRESS of Southeast Queens covered in April, and others to further that goal.
“To be very honest, the first word that comes to mind is pride,” Akber told the PRESS of Southeast Queens. “They make my days better. When I see their efforts, their engagement, their involvement, I say to myself, ‘this is what learning is about.’”
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123 firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly