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La Main à la Pâte

If you are a teacher or a parent searching for innovative methods for teaching and simplifying different sciences such as mechanics, biology, or geology, then this website is definitely for you.

La Main à la Pâte (LAMAP) is a French educational website promoting scientific investigation within the framework of primary school education. The educational website will help renovate the teaching of science in primary schools by motivating teachers to place children in a position whereby they can experiment, observe, query and reason. This will open them up to the beauty of the world around them and its intelligibility as well as enhance their creativity.

How did it start?
The website was initiated in 1996 by Georges Charpak, member of the French Academy of Sciences and Nobel prize winner for physics in 1992. It is managed by the French Academy of Sciences, and given the support of many partners.

Appreciating the considerable role that sciences and technologies play in our lives, and the essential effect of teaching on building our capacities, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) partnered with the French Academy of Sciences to build an equivalent website of LAMAP in Arabic. The project aims at providing these especially exceptional and tested resources for the Egyptian educational experience through a mirror website in the national language and provide scientific content that is in line with the Egyptian education curriculum.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina signed an agreement with the French Academy of Sciences according to which ISIS created a mirror site for LAMAP in Arabic with the same structure as the original. The BA was also responsible for translating the site content into Arabic, adapting the curriculum, methodology and material to users of the Arab World, and promoting the methodology within the Egyptian science community.

Accomplishments and technical details
The first major milestone accomplished in this project was publishing a prototype of the Arabic mirror website "Ektashef Benafsak" in April during BioVision 2006. The launching ceremony was attended by Dr. Georges Charpak and Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina; alongside numerous Nobel Laureates and eminent scientists who attended the International BioVision Conference hosted by the BA.
The LAMAP interface elements were translated into Arabic and a total of about 400 documents, 970 questions and 1,290 answers were incorporated into the website content. The pages are covering links like “Documentation”, “Activité pour la classe”, “Echange”, as well as the project history and website introduction. In addition, negotiations with the American Publisher (Insights) are taking place for obtaining clearance on copyright since some of the material belongs to them.

The system architecture and design was reviewed which resulted in remodeling the whole website to provide multilingual support. The purpose was to make the website international. The multilingual support feature will allow the web application to hold and display pages and contents in different languages simultaneously depending on the user request. This makes all languages accessible through any mirror. Providing this functionality involved major updates in the core architecture of the web application.

The BA team cooperated with the LAMAP team in France to develop various backed modules including documents management, pages management, and workflow management. Moreover, applications for translators and the data entry team were developed to help avoid duplicate text translation and ensure complete translation of the data. An authoring tool was developed to facilitate the addition of new formatted documents and pages to the website.

A new version of the website was tested and published by the French team. This version reflects the development made by the BA team as well as the French development team such as internationalization, new interface, new administrative tools and bug fixes. Migration of this new version to Arabic was completed in September 2007.

Two backend users were trained on how to update the website content. The training was conducted by BA's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) department, and a user guide was prepared to assist users while using the backend.

Funding and promotion
Bibliotheca Alexandrina began promoting the use of the website in the Egyptian educational community through training a number of science teachers on how to use the website. The training was conducted in the library for 180 teachers. Furthermore, the activity books for the first three primary levels were modified in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to match the LAMAP approach and methodology.

This phase of the project was generously supported by a grant from the International Development Research Center of Canada (IDRC).


French Version:


  Partners & Participants:

  • French Academy of Sciences
  • l’Institut National de Recherche Pédagogique (INRP)
  • l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS)
  • Ministère Français de la Jeunesse, l’Education Nationale et de la Recherche
  • French Cultural Center, Cairo
  • French Cultural Center, Alexandria
  • Egyptian French-speaking schools
  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina – ISIS, Publications Departments and Planetarium & Science Center


Last updated on 05 Nov 2007