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STEM In My Life’ Photography Exhibition Showcases Work From Disadvantaged Students

Phnom Penh// 31 October 2023: Stunning photographs taken by children living in one of the most impoverished parts of Cambodia are being exhibited at the country’s leading arts center in Phnom Penh.

19 images captured by students in Grades 7-12 at NGO Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) on the theme ‘STEM In My Life’ are showcased at Meta House, Cambodia’s largest independent arts center, in Phnom Penh.

All the photos are entries for a STEM In My Life photography competition organized by CCF for students at its Neeson Cripps Academy (NCA) high school.

The project aims to encourage students to explore their creative side by capturing a moment in their daily lives that highlights their interaction with concepts of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), integrating art into STEM.

The competition started as part of the CCF Full STEAM Ahead project in 2022, which developed into a series of workshops and exhibitions involving local and international artists, bringing the arts into STEM to generate STEAM.

One of CCF’s staff photographers - a former CCF student - ran photography workshops with the students, teaching technical skills and practical hands-on guidance.

The title, STEM In My Life, gives students a broad base to get their creative juices flowing and allow individuality to shine.

“The aim is for students to explore the world around them through the lens of STEM and how it is integrated into their daily lives,” said Phorn La, Education Project Officer for Cambodian Children’s Fund, who came up with the idea for the photography competition.

“It helps them develop their photography skills, critical thinking, and creativity, and boost their confidence and ability.”

This year, students were also required to write a short narrative explaining how the concepts they were exploring in their photographic work have impacted their lives.

Nico Mesterharm, a German filmmaker and arts activist who established Meta House in 2007, said of the exhibition: “It’s fantastic. Since the beginning of Meta House, we have always had exhibitions by kids and kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Art education is still not part of the curriculum in schools. Art is so important; it’s about creative thinking and learning to think out of the box. All children should learn about art.”

CCF’s STEM In My Life competition is open to any student who has been a member of its media club.

CCF student Chan Cheat Lika, 15, who won last year’s competition with her image ‘Water’, has this year entered a close-up of a fly on a leaf captured in the roof garden at the NCA in Steung Meanchey.

She wanted to show that beauty can be found in the unlikeliest of places, even the rubbish-strewn area around the former garbage dump in Steung Meanchey where CCF works.

“A fly is considered ugly, but it can be beautiful when you look closely. I wanted to show its different side. This is also reflective of people that even though you live in a dirty place, you can still be beautiful,” says Lika, who is in Grade 9 and wants to be a doctor.

A photograph of a sewing machine titled ‘Lifesaver’ was the focus of the entry by Thoeun Monika, a Grade 10 student.

“For my family, a sewing machine is not just a regular machine; it is a lifesaver. My mother is a tailor who relies on it to sustain our family. It plays a vital role in generating income and supporting us,” says Monika, aged 16.

The ‘STEM In My Life’ exhibition at Meta House is open to the public and will run until 18 November, when the competition winners will be announced.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to vote on their favorite photograph.

Two winners will be announced on the evening of 18 November, chosen from the public vote and the judge’s award. The judging panel includes Scott Neeson, CCF’s founder and executive director.

For more information, please contact:

Andrew Roberts STEM Coordinator | Cambodian Children's Fund

Phone: +855 (0) 99 851 562/ 015 684 917

ABOUT CCF

Cambodian Children’s Fund transforms the country's most impoverished kids into tomorrow's leaders by delivering education, family support, and community development programs into the heart of Cambodia’s most impoverished communities.

CCF believes that with the right education and support, one child has the potential to lift an entire family out of poverty and that a generation of educated children has the power to change a whole society.

www.cambodianchildrensfund.org



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