The exhibition was made possible through a winter programme designed to provide students with a more wholesome education

HAIKU: How much a child learns cannot be known unless that knowledge is applied practically.

Breaking this norm of classroom learning, a winter programme for class XII science students called HAIKU (Happiness, Action, Imagination, Knowledge and Unity) is providing participants with a practical aspect to science.

Some 60 participants from Thimphu and Mongar exhibited their homemade washing soaps to a panel of judges gathered in a classroom at Pelkhil School in Thimphu, yesterday.

A faint smell of lemongrass mingled with the aroma of coffee welcomed guests as they arrived.

Tshering Yangzom Sherpa of Wangbama Central School was excited to exhibit her group’s work. She waited patiently, containing her excitement as a local dance group and participants from the Raven Camp performed.

Soaps made from ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, turmeric powder, chocolates, charcoals, lemongrass oil, food colourings and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) were exhibited.

Apart from attractive shapes and smell of the soaps, the persuasive description on the soaps given by the exhibitors stole the show for most of the judges.

“Turmeric and olive oil present in the soap will not only make your skin clear but also enhance the radiance of your face,” said Sherab Lhamo, one of the participants at the exhibition.

The participants exhibited their keen marketing skills as they described their products. “With teenagers suffering from acne at this age, our soaps are the perfect solutions for all their problems,” said Sherab Lhamo.

I was searching the Internet and browsed a lot of sites but I didn’t find anything about acne. In a few days I found the site It was dedicated to Accutane and there were reviews about the drug. Depending on results, I changed the dosage. The drug dried my lips, but it acted well. The only one side effect was that it was very hard under the sun.

A spirit of entrepreneurship lingered in the room. Some of the participants said that they would like to market their products to the tourism and hotel sector. The soaps, being homemade products without any chemical ingredients, are comparatively cheaper and eco-friendly according to the participants.

For Sherab Tenzin of Pelkhil School, this was the first time that he saw sodium hydroxide. “I read about the chemical during my chemistry classes but I had never seen it in real before,” said the 17-year-old. “Now I know how a scientist feels in a laboratory and it’s a really good feeling.”

While his partner, Pema Dechen Yangden, 17, looked satisfied with their group’s soap on display. “This is the first time that I have made a soap and I must say this is a masterpiece that our group has come out with,” she said.

Initiated with the goodwill from Her Majesty The Royal Grandmother, Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck,the 45-day HAIKU youth camp that began on December 21 last year, is a pilot project designed for Bhutanese students entering the 12th grade. It is expected to help them prepare for the Bhutan Higher Secondary Examination Certificate (BHSEC) examination.

Apart from the academic curricula, the programme is designed for wholesome development of the student including leadership qualities through public speaking, global awareness and business writing.

Tshering Yangzom Sherpa said that it is a rare opportunity to get hands-on experience to what is been taught in the class. “I have learned several times the process of making soaps in chemistry classes but only now I know how it actually works,” said the 18-year-old. “Today is not just an exhibition of our soaps, the hard work and dedication put by our group members and teachers but it is a showcase of our talents.”

Younten Tshedup