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9th grade Jordanian students win ‘best programming’ in 14th Arab Robotics Championship in Qatar

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - May 11,2023 - Last updated at May 11,2023

Jordanian students from the King Abdullah School of Excellence in Tafileh at the 14th Arab Robotics Championship in Doha (Photo courtesy of the King Abdullah School of Excellence Facebook page)

AMMAN — A team of ninth-graders from the King Abdullah School of Excellence in Tafileh has won first place for “best programming” in the 14th Arab Robotics Championship. 

The team representing the Kingdom also came in fourth in the robotics ball-collecting category. 

The tournaments were organised by the Qatari Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) at Lusail Sports Arena in Doha, with the participation of 16 countries, according to the state news agency QNA. 

The winning team from Jordan included four students from the King Abdullah School of Excellence in Tafileh; Bashar Sawalqah, Jad Shaddad, Arar Qatameen and Mutaz Alqaisi, in addition to their coaches, teachers Ameen Al Meseden and Ahmad Al Qawabah.

In order to participate in the 2023 Arab Robotics Championship held in Qatar, the school’s team first competed with over 30 local teams in the qualifying rounds in Jordan, and came in second place, according to Qawabah.

In an interview with The Jordan Times, he explained that the teams who win first and second place in their country’s national tournaments qualify to compete in the finals, which take place in a different Arab country every year.

“Our robot is designed and programmed to collect the highest number of balls within three minutes,” he said, noting that teams are also assessed for their programming skills, discerned based on how their robot operates. 

“Our team programmed a number of strategies in the robot based on how we predict other teams will play so that we can switch them up depending on the tactics of our opponent,” he added. 

The school’s team has been using this robot to participate in competitions for the past three years, he noted.

“We always make certain adjustments to its design and programming to fit the tasks required by the robot in each competition,” said Qawabah. 

Bashar Sawalqah, one of the team’s members, started learning programing when he was in the seventh grade. 

In an interview with The Jordan Times, the 15-year-old noted that he began learning programming by following in the footsteps of his father, who is a programmer. 

“My teachers helped me grow my skills in the field through training at the school’s innovation centre. I also started learning more on my own through the internet,” he said. “It became my passion. My favourite thing about the field of programming is the endless creative possibilities it holds”. 

Coaches Qawabah and Meseden helped found an innovation centre at the school roughly four years ago. 

Qawabah noted that the centre aims to help all students at the school cultivate their knowledge and skills in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) programming and robotics-building. 

“I believe that this type of education has become essential during this day and age. AI is now employed in almost all sectors around the world, and it’s bound to replace many jobs,” he added. 

“Academic education, although important, isn’t enough, which is why we are keen on helping our students keep up with the rapid pace of technological advances,” Qawabah said. 

He pointed out that various teams from the school have participated in and scored wins at a number of local and international competitions since the centre opened.

“All these challenges we engage our students in allow them to cultivate creativity and out-of-the-box thinking in addition to building their programing skills,” he added. 

Three teams composed of eighth grade students at the school are currently preparing to participate in a local robotics competition in that will take place on June 22, according to Qawabah. 

 

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