Complex Made Simple

Qatar National Research Fund holds Ibn Al-Haytham Days event

High school students learn about Arab scientist’s ground-breaking work

Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a member of Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D), recently held a two-day event entitled ‘Ibn Al-Haytham Days’ at the Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Student Center.

The event was in partnership with the Supreme Education Council (SEC), Sidra Medical and Research Center, Qatar University, Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), and the US Embassy in Qatar.

The ‘Ibn Al-Haytham Days’ event was held on the sidelines of the Photonics Middle East Conference (PMEC), co-sponsored by QNRF, and was also a part of Qatar marking the 2015 observance of the United Nations International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL). In his introduction to the event, Dr Abdulla Al-Kamali, Special Programs Manager of QNRF, said: “It’s the right time for students to revive their interest in the Arab scholar Ibn Al Haytham, and this event lets them contribute in their own way.”

In line with Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development’s (QF) mission, QNRF took part in the event to promote awareness about the role of Arab and Muslim scientists in the development of modern sciences, while also positioning Qatar as a hub of research excellence.

Day one of the event saw the final round of a competition aimed at encouraging high school students from 22 schools to design, develop six-minute presentations on topics related to photonics and the human eye in front of three-member panels.

Students worked in teams of two to five under the supervision of their physics teachers and coordinators. Om Ayman Secondary Independent School for Girls won first place and Rabea Al Adaweya Secondary Independent School for Girls came second. Omar Ibn Al Khattab Secondary Independent School for Boys won first place for boys and Jassim Bin Hamad Secondary Independent School for Boys came second.

On the second day, the 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Professor Wolfgang Ketterle, gave a presentation entitled ‘The Coolest Use of Light – How to Make the Coldest Matter in the Universe’. Mr Thomas Altman, a US-based high-school teacher and expert on laser and light activities, also conducted experiments and hands-on demonstrations of light phenomena on both days.

Professor Ilham Al-Qaradawi of Qatar University, and a member of the event organising committee, gave a presentation on the contributions and achievements of Ibn Al Haytham.

Professor Al-Qaradawi said: “This is the last event of Qatar marking the International Year of Light, and we are proud to have held around 10 events throughout the year with various organisations. We were also privileged to have two eminent visitors for the students. I am delighted to have been part of this event, and I hope we will have many similar, science-based activities in the future as we continue to build a knowledge-based economy.”

Dr Abdulnasser Al-Ansari, Deputy Executive Director of QNRF, presented certificates of appreciation to the students and teachers of the winning schools. Commenting on the event, he said, “The students have seen how the great discoveries of Ibn Al Haytham in the field of light, outlined in his book Al Manathir, or the Book of Optics, laid down the foundations for many of today’s technological advancements. We, at QNRF, are very pleased to have worked with both national and international partners to celebrate the International Year of Light.”

Additionally, QNRF plans to hold similar events on an annual basis to celebrate the achievements of other distinguished Arab scholars such as Ibn Sina and Jaber Ibn Hayaan, aiming to ignite the passion for inquiry and research in Qatar’s school students.