American geophysicist aims to boost science program in Basra
Jasim Al Sarraf (in white shirt and tie), a geophysicist and founder of the Club of Science Hobbies (COSH) signed a mutual agreement with the chairman for the Collaboration Organization Basra, Shuker Mahmmod Jasim, establishing a science program for middle and high school level Iraqi students in Basra at the Basra International Business Center. Established 29 years ago in the United States, COSH has branched out in major cities in six states. Also pictured is Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, United States Division-South Deputy Chief of Staff for Effects.

U.S. officials in Basra have signed a mutual agreement with Collaboration Organization Basra (COB), a non-governmental organization for community developments, establishing a science program for middle and high school Iraqi students.

"Without science there is no technology," said Jasim Al Sarraf, a geophysicist from Missouri, United States Defense Support Public Diplomacy Advisor in Basra and founder of the Club of Science Hobbies (COSH), established 29 years ago.

"The science program is going to be a paradise for the children," Al Sarraf said. "It opens a wide spectrum of science. It will cover 12 divisions of science such as biology, chemistry, geology, physics, astronomy and so on."

Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, the deputy chief of staff-effects coordinator for the 1st Infantry Division and United States Division-South, said the program would make a big impact on the future of Iraq.

"It is the first seed, which has been planted from the Basra International Business Center," said Kauzlarich. "This seed will grow from the student science program, into an incredible fruit for the future of Iraq."

Al Sarraf said there's a concern about maintaining continuity in the profession.

"The scientists who are working right now are worried about the future," Al Sarraf said. "They want to see quality students replacing them. If students don't have an interest in science, become scientists themselves, who will replace them' This program will stimulate the children's interest in learning about science and math. It will develop their skills to become scientists themselves."

While the program is in its beginning phase, there are plans to shadow the COSH programs established in the U.S.

"We're going to start from zero," Al Sarraf said, "but as it grows, I wish to establish more branches in other districts and participate in the science expos."

"The expos' rewards every student, everyone is a winner." Al Sarraf said.

Each branch will have monthly activities, a science expo once a year and participate every two years in the international science expo with 85 countries.

The COB will recruit volunteers from Basra such as doctors, physicists, geologists, professionals from the science field.

The initial funds to launch the program came from international oil companies and will help establish satellite locations in the Qurnah, Central Basra and Zubair school districts. The operational funds, will be raised through the COB's efforts in soliciting international companies in Basra.

In the eyes of Al Sarraf and Shuker Mahmmod Jasim, the COB chairman, the program will contribute to the future welfare of the people of Iraq.

"Through this program, the students will be more effective to society," Shuker said. "They can work and contribute to the community, develop relationships with colleagues in other countries."

"We have to build bridges between the people of Iraq and the U.S. and other countries," said Al Sarraf. "Starting with the young people, the future generation of scientists."

"Through this, we will be in touch with different countries and cultures," Shuker said. "We want to learn, build Iraq, teach our children for the future of Iraq."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16