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Volunteers bring STEM activities to hospital wards

Muhammad Hamza Waseem, Vice President (Liaison) of IET On Campus UET Lahore group came up with the idea of arranging a science outreach programme for patients, after the group successfully developed science and engineering demonstrations for students at a local government school.

The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital treats cancer patients between the ages of three and 18 from across Pakistan. Hamza hoped his idea of bringing science and engineering activities into the wards would prove therapeutic to the patients.

“The hospital has a volunteer programme where school and college students can interact with the patients. So we contacted the hospital authorities and proposed to them that we could incorporate science communication outreach into their volunteer programme. The idea was well received,” said Hamza.

Hamza’s On Campus group has an outreach department, which recruited a team of 20 volunteers who were mostly electrical and mechatronics engineering students. The volunteers designed a range of interactive activities using basic electronics and the open source platform for building electronics, Arduino.

Ali Khalid, head of the outreach department, explained what was involved: “Volunteers used basic electronic components like batteries, push-buttons, LEDs, buzzers, motors and various sensors to make experiments.

The experiments touched upon electricity, magnetism, light, infrared radiation, motors, ultrasonic waves, holograms and even Bluetooth. These were designed to inspire the patients – who knows, they could grow into great scientists and engineers one day!”

One particularly popular experiment showed how colours are formed from different combinations of the three primary colours. It consisted of three LEDs in red, green and blue and a single RGB LED. There were three potentiometer knobs associated with the three LEDs. Rotating them would change the brightness and the respective LED and the RGB LED would form a unique colour based on the colour combination setting.

Not only were the patients fascinated by the activities, but their parents and guardians were too. Some patients even asked the volunteers to help them make experiments of their own.

Ali said: “It was a worthwhile experience. Interacting with the patients and talking about science and engineering greatly helped in making them forget their disease for a while and enjoy themselves. Seeing the fascination and curiosity of the children who took part motivates us to visit the hospital again in future.


March 2019 Member News print edition caption correction: The photo caption for this story In the March 2019 print edition should have read: Ans Mahmood, not Muhammad Awais Butt who kindly took the photo.


IET volunteer Ans Mahmood at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital

IET volunteer Ans Mahmood at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital