Lebanese American University

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Learning outside the classroom

June 4, 2014—

For the past sixteen years, LAU Byblos has invited young students from various schools across the country to visit the university and participate in different competitions during the annual Arts and Sciences Fair in late spring. This year was particularly noteworthy since it marked the first time such an event was also hosted on Beirut’s campus.

Both events closed with an awards ceremony. In Beirut, the School of the Year Award for Arts was awarded to Bilal Fahes High School and the School of the Year Award for Sciences went to Hariri High School 2.

A few days later in Byblos, the School of the Year award for Sciences went to College Mariste Champville and for the category of Arts it went to Antonine Sisters School, Ghazir. Additionally, 50% LAU scholarships were given to Lara Rayshouni from Green Field College and Ralph Donabedian from Beirut Evangelical School for Girls and Boys, Rabieh.

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500 secondary level students (grades 10 and 11) from over 40 schools gathered at LAU Beirut to take part in a variety of activities ranging from physics and chemistry knowledge, English and Arabic writing, website development, community service and survey, low calorie dishes, health awareness, mathematical games, visual arts exhibitions and a dance show.

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The Byblos campus was buzzing with activity as 700-800 of students from 40 schools presented a wide-range of creative science exhibitions. The event allowed various schools to become better acquainted with the LAU campus and spend an educational day in an environment other than a classroom. Competitions included: Big Science Challenge, Chemistry Magic Trick, Fashion Design and Modeling, Paper Bridge Design, Robot Sumo Competition, and many more.

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Dr. Raed Mohsen, dean of students at LAU Beirut, congratulates all students for their spirited show. All were given a participation certificate. “Regardless of what happens with the results, you are all winners to us,” Mohsen said to a delighted audience. He also saluted the public school system and tipped his hat to those teachers who continued to mentor their students during project development despite the difficulties associated with the recent strikes.

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Students with a penchant for the arts participated in a crowd-pleasing dance routine at the Selina Korban Theater.

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Students Ahmad Attar, Maram Lahham, Ruba Saleh, Sara Sarrieddine from Amjad School explains the impetus behind their project. “Lebanon is a developing country and it contains many areas of unequal conditions—one of the most underprivileged areas in the country is Hay Al Selom,” Lahham explains. This area attracted the attention of these four idealistic high school students seeking a better Lebanon. To address the many problems facing this community—electricity, gang violence, pollution—the foursome propose awareness campaigns and a recycling program to tackle the excess garbage that result in unhygienic conditions.

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Dr. Mars Semaan, dean of students at LAU Byblos is flanked by excited students, many of which are visiting LAU for the first time. “This year the Science and Arts Fair went way beyond our expectations. The students were just amazing. Their energy, enthusiasm and school spirit made me so proud to be part of this event.”

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Students Ahmad Assi, Fatima Mahmoud, Malak Hamdam, Mohammad Hamdam from Al Kawthar High School outline the negative impact of trans fats. “We wanted to bring attention to this issue because almost 40% of the products in our supermarkets contain trans fats and these seriously clog arteries and are very dangerous,” said Assi. The students demonstrated the chemical pathway of trans fats explaining: “Trans fatty acids are made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil—a process called partial hydrogenation.”

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Students Jaafar Hoteit, Nour Fneish, Israa Salameh, Mohamad Nazha from Greenfield College stand beside their booth dedicated to raising awareness about food allergies. “Knowledge about allergies in Lebanon is not very widespread and we want to spread awareness and tell people to read food labels and be vigilant,” says Fneish. The students outlined the top ten foods that cause allergies: milk, wheat, shellfish, egg, chocolate, soya beans, pineapples, lemon, peanuts, other nuts.

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