CYSCA, Schools in Armenia Connect in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The Cambridge Science Festival drew thousands of people, from scientists to curious explorers, to all parts of Cambridge and neighboring communities as the yearly festival got under way in April. The festival actively engages people of all ages and varied backgrounds with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities over a 10-day period each spring.

Sonya Merian (L) interacts with participant at the Cambridge Science Festival.  Photo by N. Kalajian
Sonya Merian (L) interacts with participant at the Cambridge Science Festival. Photo by N. Kalajian

The Science Carnival and Robot Zoo!, one segment held on Sat., April 19, included many family-friendly, hands-on participatory and informative exhibits around the area of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library, close to Harvard Square. As it has in past years, the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) proudly manned a booth that day. This year the colorful booth featured many posters on two long tables that displayed information on CYSCA and many of its community projects over the past 27 years.

Scientific projects from five schools in Armenia were featured this year; three computers, an iPad, and a tablet allowed Cambridge attendees to see the projects and to Skype with the students in Armenia. The schools in Armenia that participated, and their projects, included: School #198 (virtual zoo/endemic animals); School #20, (using recyclables for decorative arts); Poqrik Ishxan Educational Complex (using ecological bags); AYB School (“Lightbug” drone copter); and ATP (composting). Excitement was in the air for those in Cambridge able to communicate with a student scientist in Armenia; yet, with the large number of exhibitors and participants using the internet during the Science Carnival, connectivity posed somewhat of a challenge in viewing student videos and having consistent, live communications with Armenia.

CYSCA Board members Sonya Merian, Nancy Kalajian, and Suzy Pearce, all experienced educators, manned the booths and interacted with festival participants, introducing them to Armenia (on maps), discussing CYSCA projects and distributing take-home informational materials. Meri Grigoryan from the UNESCO Chair on “Education for Sustainable Development” of the Eco Center of the Republic of Armenia, facilitated the schools’ involvement with the Science Carnival and Cambridge Science Festival in Cambridge through communication with Sonya Merian, a CYSCA Board member.

The contact with Gregorian was fortuitous, due to connections made by two past CYSCA project participants. CYSCA had been in touch with Anoushavan Magaryan, a participant in a past CYSCA-administered Community Connections program for university administrators from Armenia. After learning about quality assurance at the university level during his stay in the greater Cambridge area, Magaryan was, upon his return to Armenia, appointed director of the National Center for Professional Education Quality Assurance (ANQA). He contacted Gayane Poghosyan, a science instructor from Armenia and also a chairholder, UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies-National Academy of Sciences. Invited by CYSCA to be a participant at the Cambridge Science Festival a few years ago, Poghosyan knew the importance of getting CYSCA connected with science educators and students in Armenia and got Meri Grigoryan, her co-worker, involved with the project. One contact led to another, and CYSCA was soon involved with connecting schools and students in Armenia with a science festival held an ocean away.

Currently, Merian is consulting with two scientists in the Boston area about finding a way to continue collaboration with these students in Yerevan, while Pearce is working on locating a science teacher in Cambridge interested in establishing contact between a student or class in Cambridge with a student or class in Yerevan. Anyone wishing to join in these efforts can e-mail cyscainfo@gmail.com.

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