Thailand has launched its first ever “science caravan” to Vientiane in a bid to provide Lao students with scientific and technological knowledge.
The project, a mobile exhibition supervised by the Ministry of Science and Technology, is a big step for Thai-Lao cooperation, Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said Monday.
He was speaking at the National University of Laos in Vientiane while presiding over the science caravan.
More than 500 Lao school and university students attended the opening of the event and took part in scientific activities and experiments, guided by Thai officials who joined the touring exhibition.
Mr Pichet said thousands of Lao students are expected to visit the science and technology exhibition at the university, which runs until tomorrow.
The science caravan is one of 14 projects offered under a framework of science and technology development between the countries, he said.
The ministry decided to launch the event in Laos so it would fall on National Children’s Day, he said.
This way, Lao students could spend a full day exploring science and technology through exhibitions and experiments, Mr Pichet said.
The highlights of the exhibition include astronomical displays, such as parts of a 70kg meteor found by scientists in Argentina.
Others were nuclear technology, an unmanned aerial vehicle, plant hydroponics and taxidermy.
Vongdara Boviengkham, Laos’ Science and Technology Minister, thanked the government for bringing the exhibition to Laos, saying it would be an excellent catalyst for encouraging students’ interest in science and technology, a key element in the country’s development.
“Laos intends to invest more in science and technology so we can develop our own products and reduce our dependence on foreign imports.
“We expect to increase the budget on science and technology development. The current figure is only 1% of foreign investment,” he said.
“We intend to make use of the scientific and technological knowledge to develop our country.”
Mr Vongdara said his ministry would seek Thailand’s assistance in setting up an observatory and planetarium.
Thailand has agreed to offer free designs for the project to the Lao government.
In the meantime, the Lao government would start looking for locations for the observatory and planetarium.
The Thai-Lao ministries have also agreed to open the first national museum on science and technology, which Laos says is another significant step towards encouraging students to take a more active interest in science and technology.
Regarding the science caravan, Mr Vongdara hopes the mobile exhibition will be expanded to other parts of the country so all children have a chance to enjoy it.
The travelling science fair was a hit with Thiphachann Xayaphet, a 10-year-old boy from Neerada School in Vientiane.
He said he was happy with the exhibition because there are many games he could play.
He suggested the exhibition also should include a robot display, as they are popular with the young and also have a technology bent.
“It would be really great if I could see a robot. Any kind of robot is great because I have never seen one before,” he said.