Al-Rahmah School Girls Take First Place at Baltimore Science Fair

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The 2014 Baltimore Science Fair (BSF) was held over the weekend of March 22 & 23, 2014 at Towson University at the Union Building. Two young women from the Muslim community received first place Sabahat Fatima, 14,  in Division 1 (9-12 grade) and Danyah Imam, Division 2 (7-8 grade). Both are students at the Al Rahmah School in  the Islamic Society of Baltimore where they both won the school Science Fair.

Sabahat just completed the hifdh of the Quran under the tutelage of Ustadha Humaira, the wife of Qari Zahid at the Al Rahmah Quran Academy. She was homeschooled by her mother during this time, using the Calvert Homeschool program. “She started memorizing the Quran at a very early age—in Pre K— at the Noor ul Iman School in New Jersey and then at the integrated hifdh program at IANT Quranic Academy (IQA) in Dallas, TX,” says Sabahat’s mother, Salma Parveen. She gets back home at 6:30 after volunteering at the Al Rahmah Quran School. Karate, reviewing her hifdh and school work take up her time.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 22, Sabahat presented her project on solar energy to several independent companies.  “Normal [solar panels] are stationary, to increase the efficiency of a solar panel, you need to make sure that the sun’s radiations fall at right angles to the solar panel,” she explains her project.

Her parents wanted her to have exposure; they were not expecting that she would win so many awards at a regional event for her project, Catching the Sun with an Azimuth Solar Tracker. Sabahat won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)-  1st place, US Army Special Merit Award, National Society for Black Engineers- Special Achievement Award, INCOSE Chesapeake Bay chapter Achievement in Science and Engineering- 3rd place, National Security Agency recognition, National Space Society recognition and subscription and the Optical Society of America- project exhibiting excellent use of optical technology recognition.

It had taken her one month to build the model for her solar tracker. All the parts were from recycled material except for the solar panels. Her aim is to make an more efficient and cheaper version than those available in the market. AIAA has asked her write a proposal for funding to further her research.  She will also present her project in November to the John Hopkins Young Professionals and students science conference held by AIAA.

“From the time we entered the hall, I was praying that Sabahat [wins an] award...she was home schooled due to her enrollment into [the] full time hifz program and [I] always had the feeling that she missed out a lot on academics......finally when the awards were announced and each time her name was called,  I cried and called out "Allahu Akbar" was only due to the barakah of Quran.” shares Mohamed Ibrahim, her proud father.

Both of Sabahat’s parents are engineers— electrical and information technology.

“I went to attend the prize ceremony because she said the presentation went well. Danyah and Sabahat both won first place, [they] inspired my other kids as well,” says Salma Parveen.

“It was surprise I have been only to one science fair before this—it is a great blessing. I didn't expect this much!,” she says, excited. Her science teacher at Al Rahmah, Sr. Mehnaz encouraged Sabahat and told her that she had a chance. “I met many different people and won seven awards—it was really awesome experience.”

“She is very ambitious and she wants to excel in whatever she does,” shares Salma.

Sabahat thinks about college a lot. Interested in solar energy since the eighth grader, environmental engineering or policy are two options, that she is exploring, looking forward to a sunny future.