Science Education Workshop at Malta-VI

Morton Z. Hoffman (Boston University) <hoffman@bu.edu>

A three-session workshop on Science Education at All Levels was one of the events at the sixth biennial “Malta Conference” (Malta-VI) on Frontiers of Science: Research and Education in the Middle East, which was held November 10-15, 2013, at the Hilton Hotel on the island of Malta.

Malta conference
(l-r) Nour el-Hoda Abd el-Hamid and Doaa Ali Mohamed, both students from the University of Alexandria, Egypt.

These conferences, which are organized by the Malta Conferences Foundation (MCF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, are dedicated to the use of science diplomacy as a bridge toward peace in the Middle East.  They feature plenary lectures by Nobel Laureates, workshops on topics of importance to scientists and educators from the region, oral and poster presentations by participants from the Middle East, and ample time for everyone to engage in personal and professional networking.  Previous conferences were held in Malta in 2003 and 2005, in Istanbul in 2007, in Amman, Jordan, in 2009, and in Paris in 2011 at UNESCO headquarters as part of the celebration of the International Year of Chemistry.

The effects of global climate change, insufficient potable water and food, chemical warfare, and the proliferation of nuclear technology are among the many problems that plague the Middle East.  In order for civil societies to be built, these problems must be addressed, but can only be solved by cross-border collaboration and cooperation amid an explosive political environment.  For there to be scientists in the future who are capable of solving these problems, science education at all levels must be further developed.  Because the demography of the Middle Eastern countries makes education a pressing challenge for the entire region, multinational working groups have been formed within the Malta Conferences to devise more effective science curricula, different methods of teaching, learning, and assessing students, and low-cost laboratory materials for all levels of education.  These, and other important topics such as chemical safety and security, and the education of women, are integral parts of the workshops on education.


(l-r) Ahmed Mohammed Al-Rajeh and Mohammed Abdel Hakim, both students from the University of Qatar.

The science education workshop at Malta-VI, which was organized by Howard Alper (Canada), Rachel Mamlok-Naaman (Israel), and Boshra Mossaad Awad (Egypt), featured the following speakers:

  • Dincer Ülkü (Hacettepe University, Turkey), The Ethics of Scientific Research
  • Saad Hassan (Ain Shams University, Egypt), The Ugly Face of Chemistry in the Middle East
  • Yoousry Elgamal (Egypt Japan University of Science and Technology, Egypt), Project-based Learning Approach
  • Rachel Mamlok-Naaman (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel), The Characteristics of Inquiry Experiments in Which Argumentative Discussions Were Developed
  • Samira Ibrahim Islam (King Fahd Medical Research Center, Saudi Arabia), Peaceful Diplomacy: The True Spring for Saudi Women
  • Ameen Fahmy (Ain Shams University, Egypt), Systemic Assessment as a New Tool for Assessing Student Learning in Chemistry
  • Iyad Dkeidek (Al-Quds University, Palestinian Authority). Effects of Culture on Students’ Perceptions of the Laboratory Learning Environment
  • Muhamad Hugerat (The Academic Arab College for Education, Israel), Developments and Emphases in Science Teaching in the Israeli Educational System
  • Boshra Mossaad Awad (Ain Shams University, Egypt), Enhancement of Teaching and Learning Chemistry Through e-Learning
Malta conference
Samira Islam Ibrahim (Saudi Arabia) making her presentation, "Peaceful Diplomacy: The True Spring for Saudi Women," in the workshop on Science Education at All Levels.

Vigorous discussions of the interesting and provocative talks resulted in very stimulating workshop sessions.  The plans for future action include the continuation of existing collaborations in science education and the development of new ones, the dissemination of the information from the workshop, especially the report on the involvement of women in science in Saudi Arabia, and the preparation of a detailed article to an on-line science and education periodical.

Other workshops at Malta-VI were on Chemistry and Bio-Medicinal Chemistry; Analytical, Nanotechnology, and Material Science; Energy, Environment, Air and Water Quality; Chemistry Safety and Security.

Plenary lectures were given by Nobelists Yuan T. Lee (Taiwan), Ada Yonath (Israel), Danny Shechtman (Israel), Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (France), and Roald Hoffmann (U.S.).  Plenary presentations were also made by Yvonne Pope (Chemical Abstracts Services, U.K.), Monique Beaudoin (U.S. Office of Naval Research Global, London), and Mustafa Al-Ammar (Earth Ambassador for the Protection of the Planet and Preservation of Peace), who performed songs and ballads from Iraq.


Muhamad Hugerat (Israel) making his presentation, "Developments and Emphases in Science Teaching in the Israeli Educational System," in the workshop on  Science Education at All Levels.

Representatives from 15 Middle Eastern countries (Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates) attended Malta-VI, which attracted a total of approximately 80 invited participants, including students and early-career scientists.  Greetings were offered at the opening ceremony by Zafra Lerman (President, MCF), George Abela (President, The Republic of Malta), Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley (U.S. Ambassador to Malta), Rob Luke (British High Commissioner to Malta), Henry Frendo (President, Malta National Commission for UNESCO), who read a message from Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO, and Marinda Wu (ACS President).  The opening address on “Science for Peace” by HRH Princess Sumaya Bint El Hassan (President, Royal Scientific Society of Jordan), who was unable to attend because of illness, was read by a member of the Jordanian delegation.  Evening receptions were held during the week at the residences of Ambassador Abercrombie-Winstanley and High Commissioner Luke.


Ameen Farouk Fahmy (Egypt) making his presentation, "Systemic Assessment as a New Tool for Assessing Students' Learning in Chemistry," in the workshop on Science Education at All Levels.

In addition to Zafra Lerman, other members of the Board of Directors of the MCF were present: Iona Black (Secretary, U.S.), Morton Hoffman (Treasurer, U.S.), Cathy Costello (U.S.), Chuck Kolb (U.S.), Howard Alper (Canada), Leiv Sydnes (Norway), and Stanley Langer (U.K.).  More information about the MCF and the Malta Conferences can be found at <http://maltaconferencesfoundation.org/>.

An article about Malta-VI by Sarah Everts appeared in C&EN, Vol. 91, Issue 46, Nov. 18, 2013, p. 7.

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