Abu Dhabi Science Festival 13-22 November 2014



What an adventure! I was delighted when I was asked to take Illuminating Geometry to the Abu Dhabi Science Festival. There is so much to tell you that I don’t know where to start.

Abu Dhabi is an amazing place, a city of shiny skyscrapers and a white sandy beach. The science festival was at three sites this year, Al Ain, Sharjah and the Corniche. We were at he Corniche and our workshop was in a tent structure on the beach. At the Corniche a village of these tents ( a bit like a giant marquee with solid sides), serviced with electricity and water, was built for the Science Festival.  Here is a picture of it from an island facing the Science Festival.

Abu Dhabi Science Festival on the Corniche

Abu Dhabi Science Festival on the Corniche


The first job was to set up our workshop, we spent all day sewing large Illuminating Geometry lanterns together. I was very impressed with the graphics on the walls and and tables. Here are the techs hanging up the lanterns.


The following days were spent meeting our teams of Science Communicators, students from Abu Dhabi who were going to run the workshops. We only had a day to train each group of Science Communicators but they did very well and as the festival went on Lizzie and I were able to hand over more and more of the running of the workshops over to the Science Communicators.


SAM_1795SAM_1776SAM_1772We tried to have a little fun along the way too. Here is Aisha practising using the microphone, some times we just had a little sing song to warm up our vocal cords before the evening session.

SAM_1793We had school groups in the morning and were open to the public in the evenings. The school groups were great and Sumeya, Zainab, Nadia, Shamma, Sheika, Mozuyna (please forgive any spelling mistakes) were a great team, introducing and running the workshops. Each session started with a short introduction and then the children made a lantern and did a worksheet or two. I had prepared a series of worksheets so that we would be prepared for any class that might visit us from primary school to A level. The Science Communicators took it all in their stride.

Like all festivals it was incredibly busy at times and our evening teams worked really hard to engage as many customers as possible and to make each one feel special. There is nothing like watching a child’s face light up when the take an LED and a battery and make light!

The lanterns were also a starting point for deeper discussions on mathematics and geometry. Adult participants reached back in their memories to their school days as we discussed how to inscribe regular polygons in a circle to make the templates we use to fold the papers to make the lanterns. Many participants told us they would make their own versions when they got home. I hope some of them send me a photo so I can see how they got on.

We made 3500 lanterns over the ten day period. I don’t think the final visitor numbers had been calculated by the time we left but I heard it was the busiest one yet.


We tried to make the most of our time off during the festival and ate a lot of ice creams from Cold Stones, as well as more active pursuits including swimming in the incredibly salty sea. We visited the Grand Mosque one morning and it is stunningly beautiful. The interior is decorated with lots of intricate geometric patterns, which I found very intriguing. We have no photos of our kayaking adventure through the mangroves at sunrise. I think it made a lasting impression on all of those there and was definitely the highlight of Lizzie’s trip. We packed up our stuff on the last night of the festival and got a flight home early next morning. Here is a big thank you to Lizzie and all our Science Communicators for making it all work.- Jenny

SAM_1804Chandelier at Grand MosqueSAM_1817


Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. Lorna Batty says:

    Dear Jenny,

    English Heritage has a piece of work coming up at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall which you may be interested in. Please find all details at the following link:


    (Apologies for not contacting you directly, I can’t seem to find your details).

    Kind regards,

    Lorna Batty
    English Heritage

  2. Ridha Fathima says:

    Excellent, creative idea, and its unforgettable, thanks a lot to beloved and respected Ms Jenny.
    I’m student of Al Noor Indian Islamic School, studying at 5, now shifting to India..

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