Maksudul Alam Science Laboratory

Since the early Nineties, the number of science students in Bangladesh has been declining. The reason behind it can be traced back to many factors. One of the leading causes is that students are terrified of subjects based on Mathematics and Science because of the teaching methods that had been followed in our schools. This reluctance towards math and science results from a tendency of studying without truly perceiving. But proper understanding or comprehension of science-based subjects require practical experimentation and analysis of the studied topics. Unfortunately, the lack of specialized laboratories in our educational institutions limits such opportunities. Also, many institutions, despite accommodating laboratory facilities, fail to offer students the scope to conduct experiments. Except for the higher secondary students enrolled in the few top colleges of the country, who enjoy laboratory facilities, such opportunities are almost nonexistent for the secondary, lower-secondary and primary level students. And where the lab is available, the access is also limited to the grade IX-X students of science group only.  On the other hand, if students want to research a topic out of their own interest or conduct a science project on their own, they are at a loss to carry out experiments in a laboratory. As a result, at most of the science events in our country, only project models are displayed in the name of science projects!!!

To better such conditions, scientific laboratories prove essential both in educational institutions and under individual initiatives. Availing laboratories within the reach of young students will provide them with the opportunity to understand science matters experimentally and to find out practical solutions to their queries using scientific approaches. With the above situation in mind, Society for the Popularization of Science, Bangladesh (SPSB) has established a science laboratory in the name and style of “Maksudul Alam Science Laboratory (MASLab)”.

Objectives

Maksudul Alam Science Laboratory (MASLab) is mainly for students, where they will be able to experiment on science and technology and find evidence-based answers to their questions. The main purposes of this initiative are

  • To provide students with the opportunity to conduct experiments based on their textbook topics so that they can have a profound understanding of the concepts of those topics.
  • To create research-oriented mentality among the students, from a young age.
  • To inspire students for greater scientific inventions and discoveries while they are at school level.
  • To develop a science laboratory matching international standards, occupied with all the tools and apparatus necessary for school level students.
  • To provide technical and experimental assistance to the students for participating in the international events like IJSO, Google Science fair, Intel Science and Engineering fair etc.

Motivation behind the formation of MASLab

In 2013, for the first time Bangladesh got its membership in International Junior Science Olympiad (www.ijso.org) and has started participating with the students since 2015. IJSO, unlike other high school competition, has a big part of it on practical exam. Although our students did remarkably well in theoretical part, they lagged behind compared to the other countries only because they had a little knowledge about how to conduct an experiment. After 2015 participation, we realized that sending a team without practical science experiment is not worthy. It came to our understanding that we need to have some sort of a lab for our students. The minimal set up of MASLab was established in March 2016 in a small apartment in Mirpur. The lab facilitated practical science experiment for the students who were selected for 2016 IJSO held in Bali, Indonesia. With the small efforts MASLab extended to our participants brought 3 Silver and 3 Bronze medals for the country. This inspired MASLab to expand its activities.

The Beneficiaries

In most schools of our country, students acquire the chance of utilizing a science laboratory once they are promoted to Grade IX. However, this laboratory will enable students to experience laboratory benefits much earlier. To be specific, students from Grade 6 will be able to use this laboratory, although, under special consideration, students from primary level will also be permitted to use it. Students representing Bangladesh in various international competitions/ Olympiads will also be able to use this laboratory for superior preparation despite their level of educations.

The Directing Authority

Maksudul Alam Science Laboratory (MASlab) is an initiative of ‘Society for the Popularization of Science, Bangladesh’ (SPSB), a government registered science club registered under National Science and Technology Museum (NMST) under ministry of Science and Technology. A five-member managing committee will run the regular activities of the laboratory.  The lab facilities will be extended towards regular members, course participants and the international competitors.

Infrastructure

Maksudul Alam laboratory situated in a room of the community floor of Sheltech Niribili, 210/2 Elephant Road, Dhaka. If necessary, the lab user could use the SPSB main facilities in the same floor. The lab now has some of the instruments including Microscope, Measuring tools, Raspberry-pi etc.

Subjects

Maksudul Alam Science Laboratory is focusing on five scientific subjects. They are:

Physics

Chemistry

Biology

Programming & IoT

Facilities are provided to conduct experiments based on the topics of these subjects.

Facilities

Students are provided with the following types of facilities in Maksudul Alam Science Laboratory (MASLab). They are:

  • Students get the chance to carry out any kind of experiments (related to the subjects) as they wish. A student, with an experimental plan of his liking, may conduct the experiment in this laboratory and comprehend a scientific topic practically. For this purpose, he/she can use any kind of equipment and other facilities provided by the laboratory.
  • There are programs based on school syllabus where specific experiments are conducted for a certain period of time. These programs follow the syllabus set in accordance to the general education curriculum. The main participants of this program are those students who are unable to conduct experiments practically in their schools.
  • Students of primary schools in our country do not have any opportunity to visit science laboratories, even kitchen experiments are inadequately popular. That is why, in Maksudul Alam Laboratory, there will be a separate section only for kitchen experiments where students will be able to fathom interesting concepts of science experimentally and repeat them at home on their own.
  • Maksudul Alam Laboratory offer its own certificate courses, which is conducted in different steps.
  • Beginners: Beginners course has a timeline of 8-10 days depending on the course curriculum developed. This course will offer the basic concepts of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Electronics-Robotics. After a thorough understanding of these fundamental concepts, a student may apply for the next level of courses, as per their wish.
  • Intermediates: These courses are offered if necessary, to prepare the students for the advance level courses if necessary.
  • Advanced: Advanced course is for those students who have already completed the Beginners course. The four different sections in the advanced course consist of separate courses for each of the subjects- Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Electronics-Robotics. Students may apply for any of the courses as they wish. Each course has a timeline of 10-12 classes. Each class has duration of 1.30-3 hours, over which both theoretical and practical aspects of related topics will be covered.