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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Robots, Planes and Sewage Go on Display

MTAndrei, 8, in a white cap, joining visitors at the 9th International Youth Scientific Exhibition to admire a robot built over two years by the Stavropol region science club.
Looming over 8-year-old Andrei, the robot raised his pincer-like hands and said in a fuzzy metallic voice, "Pleased to meet you." Lights flashed on and off all over his metallic body.

Andrei had just met one of the inventions of being showed off by 2,000-odd scientists from 80 countries this week at the 9th International Youth Scientific Exhibition at the All-Russian Exhibition Center.

The $2 million event, backed by UNESCO, is showcasing the best of the world's young scientists while acting as an educational booster for the young and scientifically challenged adults.

"The idea is science for everyone," said Maria Znova, who sits on the exhibit's organizing committee.

Inside Pavilion No. 57, visitors can wander through a myriad of inventions and contraptions, from the divine (a United Arab Emirate automatic praying room) to the ridiculous (a cosmic space station made out of Lego).

A stage in the middle of the pavilion serves as an instant lecture room, where talks, complete with numerous props a la the British Royal Institution's Christmas lecture on science, take place every day to large crowds.

If Moscow was lacking eccentrics who build planes in their own apartments, then a lecture on "How to Build a Plane" on Monday surely provided a few more.

Those who missed that lecture can see the real thing at the stand of the Istok Scientific and Technical Center for Youth. One of the center's teachers, Valery Novoseltsev, has been helping teenagers build full-size planes for more than 30 years.

His most recent plane took five years to build and will make its maiden flight in September. The plane, a fragile-looking thing only 5 meters long, has a range of 200 kilometers and can fly up to an altitude of 2,000 meters.

"It's less dangerous than a car," Novoseltsev insisted.

Inventors elsewhere spanned a wide gamut of inspiration, from a new model of bomb disposal robots -- also modeled in Lego -- to a design for an inexpensive microscope by Peruvian schoolchildren.

Not all the stands had visitors pressing around them. One stand plainly marked with the words "Studies of eutrophication scrubbing of sewage from phosphates" had no visitors at all Monday.

Deservedly, the most popular area of the exhibition is a children's city called "The World of Color and Light." The city, which was packed with eager children Monday, is a haven of educational games, puzzles and toys that teach basic principles of physics and mathematics without even the most suspicious child noticing. Games on offer include chess played with origami constructions and geometric and technical puzzles.

A few steps away, Sergei Lovyagin, a physics teacher from a Moscow school, watched as children and adults milled around his school's exhibit of projects such as mirrors that distort images and a device explaining Galileo's theories through chutes and bells.

"Here the children have fun," he said.

"A child's curiosity peaks between the ages of 10 and 12, and then it fades. If at the age of 10 and 12 there is a stimulus, then maybe it won't fade."

Although Lovyagin was impressed with the exhibition, not all were.

"It's shabby," said Novoseltsev, speaking of the general level of the inventions. "What do you expect? If society is doing badly, then so will science."

Meanwhile, Andrei talked to his new robot buddy, paying no attention to the young man from the Stavropol region science club who was breathing life into the clunky creation by providing the voice.

The robot took two years to build. It was no more than a big toy -- unlike the eutrophication of sewage -- but it was one of the big hits of the day.

The 9th International Youth Scientific Exhibition runs through Saturday at Pavilion No. 57 at the All-Russian Exhibition Center. Phone: 748-3417. Metro: VDNKh.