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AUS Environmental Day highlights impact of COVID-19 on Sustainability
More than 1,000 students and teachers from 37 schools around the UAE and Saudi Arabia had the opportunity to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on the environment and sustainability at the virtual Environmental Day held at American University of Sharjah (AUS).
AUS Environmental Day aims to promote awareness of local, regional and global environmental and sustainability issues among high school students. It also introduces them to exciting opportunities in the fields of biology, chemistry and environmental sciences, and provides them with information about the AUS bachelor of science degree programs in the three areas of science.
“The event this year aimed at promoting environmental and sustainability awareness as well as introduce students to the vast opportunities and careers in the sciences, particularly the environmental sector. It also addressed the importance of science during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected the various sectors of health and the environment,” said Dr. Fatin Samara, Chairperson of the Environmental Day Committee and Associate Professor in Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at AUS, and event organizer.
Throughout the day, students met virtually with various AUS faculty members, who spoke about global sustainability issues and study opportunities at AUS. The event also featured a very interactive talk by Nariman Ghader, Strategic Planning and Institutional Performance Management Expert from the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health status of school children, and student panel comprising AUS students discussing their experience studying sciences at AUS.
School students and teachers also participated in two competitions that focused on basic sciences, the environment, sustainability and COVID-19. The competitions were developed by the Chapter of the American Chemical Society to challenge their future peers at AUS and their past teachers.
“It was amazing to see the AUS students push themselves outside of their comfort zone and present to over 1,000 people across the UAE. This is the type of experience AUS gives it’s students to help develop their confidence and expand their horizons— giving them experiential learning at its best,” said Dr. Sandra Knuteson, Quiz Master at AUS Environmental Day and Senior Lecturer in Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at AUS.
Speaking about his experience at the event, Mark Farag from Philadelphia Private School said: “Although the event was online this year, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Most importantly, I have learned that it is possible to incorporate environmental studies into almost any major, which is something I’m very interested in.”
Mona Majdalawieh from the same school said that she would consider majoring in environmental studies one day after attending AUS Environmental Day. “I learned a lot from the event, but what interested me the most was how the professors of environmental science were once students studying other majors. However, when they realized that the environment is connected to almost everything, they shifted majors to study the environment instead! It was a very interactive event. And I would definitely consider majoring in environmental studies in the future since I’m in love with nature and would love to learn more about it and how to sustain it,” she said.
Dhruv Ghandi from Abu Dhabi Indian school had a similar reaction to Majdalawieh’s.
He said: “I would consider AUS to pursue a major in science. The fact that AUS focuses on both theoretical and practical science is great. I also learned a lot about mental health and the necessity to raise awareness about it. The event was very informative.”
Organized by the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at the College of Arts and Sciences in collaboration with the Office of Enrollment Management, the event was also supported by ICT and IT Security Department and Office of Advancement and Alumni Affairs at AUS.
Names of the winners in the competitions:
Student’s Environmental Competition
1st Place Winner: Aws Sababha, Sharjah American International School, Dubai
2nd Place Winner: Mark Farag, Philadelphia Private School
3rd Place Winner: Mona Majdalawieh, Philadelphia Private School
Teacher’s Environmental Competition
1st Place Winner: Aoun Assaad, Sharjah American International School, Dubai
2nd Place Winner: Avita Franco, St. Mary’s Catholic High School, Dubai
3rd Place Winner: Mohamed Darwiche, Rawafed Private School