From field trips to lesson plans: How schools are bringing Expo 2020 adventures to their classrooms – Gulf News

Teachers can download free Expo-curated classroom resources to enhance lessons
Dubai: Expo 2020 Dubai’s dedicated educational arm ensures that every student in the Emirates has fair exposure to the limitless wonders of a World Expo. There is no better playground for learning than a platform built to welcome 191 countries and their ground-breaking innovations, ranging from children-friendly robots to edutainment journeys that challenge and reform harmful habits.
As part of the mega event’s educational outreach, UAE schools and universities are invited to take advantage of its specially curated learning resources, educational tours of the site and fun student-centred initiatives.
Earlier this month, Expo announced free educational journeys for UAE schools and their students. These specially curated trips are designed to complement the subjects of six different curricula taught across the country: UAE Ministry of Education, American, British, French, International Baccalaureate and Indian.
Gulf News spoke to early-bird schools that have already calendared their students in for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Jay Teston, principal of Nibras International School in Dubai, put it succinctly: “It is not every day that students get an opportunity as unique as this, and we plan to take advantage of this real-life learning occasion.”
The excitement for the fair is so palpable among students that The Aquila School in Dubai is hosting its own Expo, according to Principal Wayne Howsen, who also doubles as a proud Expo volunteer on the side. At ‘Aquexpo’, the plan is for each class to put up an exhibition inspired by their visit to the site.
Sebastian, a Grade 7 pupil at Nibras International School, is curious about the latest hyperloop: “I have heard about the train that levitates using magnetic forces and goes at almost 600mph. So, I’m kind of interested to see if that is true. I also heard about self-driving cars but that’s not much of a surprise in 2021.”
Tala, Sebastian’s schoolmate, is looking forward to experiencing indoor rainfall at the Netherlands Pavilion; whereas Mira in Grade 8 is most interested in spotting robots. But it is not just the students buzzing with anticipation – teachers are suddenly looking at a packed academic year ahead.
“This week our teachers are excited as they have all been choosing which of the four Expo journeys they want their class to take when they visit Expo 2020,” said Howsen, whose school plans to incorporate the three themes of Expo – Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity – into much of its learning for the year.
A typical Expo school journey begins with a dedicated tour guide. Once the journey is complete, students are allowed a lunchbreak close to departure. Each of the four itineraries is further tailored to suit the students’ level of education, taking into account the duration and walking distance:
UAE schools can choose from the following four trips:
1. The Legacy of the UAE: Students will learn in depth of the UAE’s past, present and future by visiting either the UAE Pavilion or Sameem, a cultural plot. Some of the other pavilions they have the option of touring are The Good Place Pavilion, Women’s Pavilion, Dubai Cares Pavilion, the Emirates Pavilion and the ENOC Pavilion.
2. The World of Opportunities: Students will be inspired to become positive agents of change through one of the two major pavilions in the Opportunity District: Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion or the DP World Pavilion. Older students will additionally tour a country pavilion based in this district.
Since Nibras International School is focused on bringing its students closer to community and social issues, the school has naturally opted for the World of Opportunities.
“As a school, our students understand that they have an important role to play in their local community and the larger global one. While exploring Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion we know our students will gain a better understanding of how their actions can impact the world in meaningful ways,” said Teston.
3. The Universe in Motion: Students will discover mobility from ancient exploration to space travel at Alif – The Mobility Pavilion. Older students will additionally tour a country pavilion within the Mobility District.
Meanwhile, the Aquila School will embark on The Universe in Motion journey to show young minds “how we move resources, share information electronically and share ideas”.
“We know our children will also love learning about transport of the future,” added Howsen.
4. The Sustainable Planet: Students will learn of the humanity’s impact on the environment and sustainable solutions that can help preserve it at Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion. Older students will additionally tour a country pavilion within the Sustainability District.
To help them choose their journey, teachers can access journey packs on the website that outline potential learning objectives and all that they can expect from each trip.
To begin the process, schools must nominate at least two coordinators as their main point of contact with Expo 2020. Expo coordinators then have to register on the website by filling out a form, entering their school name, emirate, address and other details.
Once the Expo School Programme team has verified the information, the coordinators will receive their log in details along with a step-by-step guide on how to plan and book their journeys.
Some pointers to keep in mind:
Experienced teachers on the Expo School Programme team have drawn up lessons that readily complement schools’ existing curricula. Teachers can download classroom resources for free on the programme’s dedicated website (
Based on the world fair and its three subthemes (Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility), a typical resource pack includes a lesson plan, supplementary handouts and guides. Expo’s curated teaching material is sorted into three different student cycles or levels that teachers can choose from: primary school (ages six to 10), middle school (ages 11 to 15) and secondary or high school (ages 16 to 18).
Teachers also have the option of filtering all 60 lessons offered by subjects: Art and Design, Humanities, Moral Education, Entrepreneurship, Social studies, Science, Technology, Geography, and History. Each 45-minute class material, inclusive of a lesson plan, handout and sometimes a presentation, is based on one of the four overarching topics related to Expo and its subthemes:
In the months leading up to the event, schools tapped into various initiatives on the Expo School Programme website to build anticipation around the exposition in their classrooms. Check out what your school can do to keep up with the excitement for the upcoming 182 days.
1. Expo Quests: Previously, students could become ‘Expo Champions’ by clearing monthly challenges on the ‘Road to Expo’. Come October, the challenges will transition into a treasure hunt where students will put on their investigative hats and discover hidden gems along their physical and virtual journeys. Quests can be solved in classrooms as well.
2. Expo Young Innovators: Engineers of the future were invited to sketch their prototypes on a piece of napkin. The Expo School Programme team took 298 of these submissions and manufactured them to life with the help of 3D printers and animators. Participants will be able to see their genius on display at the ground floor of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion in a permanent exhibition.
Meanwhile, schools can download a toolkit to help their students along, from inception to execution of their napkin-born inventions. The free starter package includes activity sheets for primary and middle school students, a guide for their teachers and a presentation.
3. Children’s Tales from around the World: This is the title of an anthology of more than 70 short stories written and illustrated by countries all over the world. Folk tales unique to each culture have been reinterpreted by children from these countries, inviting readers aged five to 12 to develop their comprehension skills as well as imagination. To keep young readers engaged, the short stories are interspersed with did-you-know facts and problem-solving activities. The entire digital volume is available for download on the website for free.
4. Next Gen World Majlis: Expo’s World Majlis programme, a roundtable for discussing pressing issues of the 21st century in the Arab tradition of the majlis or ‘council’, offers UAE students their own version of the forum. Topics and ideas brought to the table at the Next Gen World Majlis series will feed into the parent programme before, during and after Expo 2020 Dubai.
Each Next Gen World Majlis gathering will feature eight to 10 high school and university students, lasting up to 75 minutes. The talks will be live streamed and open to both virtual and physical audiences at Expo. To date, five gatherings of the Next Gen World Majlis have been held and further eight will take place during Expo on the themes of people, planet and technology.
The Expo University Programme offers UAE university students seven curated tours to connect with industry experts and plan for their careers during Expo 2020 Dubai.
In the form of three-day tours, the programme stages real-life case studies from seven fields of research to enrich existing curricula. Upon completion, students will be awarded a certificate of participation from Expo.
The seven guided educational tours are based on the following topics:
1. Arts, Architecture and Design: Expo 2020 will allow students to get up close and personal with flagship buildings designed by Grimshaw Architects, Foster + Partners and Santiago Calatrava.
2. Business and Entrepreneurship: Students will learn of social entrepreneurship and how businesses are strategising to tackle global challenges. The tour also comes with an opportunity to network with industry leaders and business experts visiting Expo.
3. Engineering and Construction: Students will gain insight into the way environmental awareness and new technologies are transforming engineering and construction with real-life examples at Expo.
4. Hospitality, Tourism and Mega Events: Stepping behind the scenes, students will delve into all the aspects of event planning gone into readying the site for the prospective 25 million visitors.
5. Innovation and Technology: Students will interact with cutting-edge technologies that present solutions in energy, transportation and life sciences. On this tour, they will also experience virtual reality and artificial intelligence demonstrations.
6. International Media and Relations: Students will immerse themselves in the global gathering of 191 countries to study the impact of world expos in the diplomatic, economic and political realms. With the help of this tour, they will come away with better cross-cultural understanding and challenge stereotypes.
7. Sustainability: Students will connect with thought leaders and environmentalists on site to learn about the importance of collective action against climate change.
Educational institutions can register their interest in the Expo University Programme by filling out a form on the official website (
The form must be filled out by an education professional affiliated with the interested university such as a faculty head. Details requested include full name, name and location of institution, role within institution, designation and contact number.
Following submission, a team member of the programme will revert with a response.

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