Did you know that ancient Arab scientists were pioneers in the field of ophthalmology? The contributions of scientists, inventors and thinkers who lived during the Islamic Golden Age, a period ranging from 750 CE (Common Era) to 1257 CE goes largely unrecognised, opined nine young students.
“The Arab world played a very important part in the development of science,” said Malvika Vijayan, 14, and a student of the Delhi Private School, Sharjah. With the aim of developing a scientific temper and spirit of enquiry among youngsters, the JSS Private School and the Science India Forum (SIF) organised an Inter-School Science Exhibition and Knowledge Fair at its campus on June 14.
Students at the science fair at JSS Private School, Dubai. — KT photos by Shihab
Students of grades 4 to 12 from more than 30 schools across the UAE participated in the fair. Nine students contested for the best presentation on the subject ‘Ancient Scientific Practices of the Arab and the Indian World’. Izaan Khan and Ram Sankar from the Indian High School; Sabeer Hameed from Our Own High School, Al Warqa’a; Vedanth Pradeep and Tania Chakraborty from the Abu Dhabi Indian School; Neil Sengupta and Malvika Vijayan from the Delhi Private School, Sharjah; Fathima Zakiyyah from the Emirates Future International Academy and Megha Unni from the Our Own English High School, Dubai, put forth a tough fight with their well-researched papers. While five students presented papers on ancient scientific practices in the Arab world, four of them presented papers on the Indian contribution.
Vedanth Pradeep came first for the Arab research papers and Izaan Khan came in second, while in the Indian category Tania Chakraborty came in first and Neil Sengupta came second.
“The main point of the presentation was to make people aware of what practices both of these communities of people have done,” said Izaan Khan. “Most of our presentations depicted the unrecognised works of the ancient thinkers. There are so many aspects of
science that Arabs have contributed to and the two major contributions are in the fields of Medicine and Astronomy,” he said.
Arabs in medicine
“Arabs have influenced modern medicine in a very big way. Also, Arabs invented Algebra, which is one of their most important contributions,” said Vijayan. “Every time we go back to the history of science, we either think of the Greeks or the Europeans. But it is because of the contributions of the Arab thinkers that the works of the Greeks survived.
“The Greeks took 350 years to convert the works of the Arabs into their own language,” added Sabeer Hameed.
The students said they referred to several sources for the research. “The internet was a big source, and books and encyclopaedias added to the wealth of knowledge. The Heritage Village near Al Shindaga was also a big source of information,” said Hameed. Because the Arabs documented their findings so well, the rest of the world can benefit from their research, the students added. “With the existence of the silk route, apart from trade there was a healthy exchange of ideas and thoughts as well,” said Sengupta. “The Greeks provided the material to make pillars for scientific thought, the Indians made the pillars, the Arabs made a beautiful structure out of it and the Europeans painted it,” added Khan.
The students said that the project was immensely beneficial to them. “We lived under the hypothesis that the credit of everything goes to the renaissance and European thinkers. But now we know that there was so much more,” said Sengupta.