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Jordanian teenage robotics team wins first prize in int’l competition

By Renad Aljadid - Apr 24,2018 - Last updated at Apr 24,2018

AMMAN — Jordan's teenage "Robo Ibdaa" team has seized the first place in the Robot Mechanical Design Award in this year's First Lego League (FLL) competition in Houston, the US, which concluded on Sunday.

Competing against 108 teams, the team excelled in programming an autonomous robot and conducting a hydrodynamic research project that solves a real-world problem — water for this edition — all guided by the FLL core values such as teamwork and discovery, according to the team members.

The "Robo Ibdaa" (or "Robot Creativity" in Arabic) team members have been receiving their training at Ammar Malhas Technology Centre, a robotics training centre for disadvantaged school students established by the Ibdaa Foundation and funded by Jordanian businessman Ammar Malhas.

"The challenge was tough but we enjoyed it as every day taught us a new lesson. We earned valuable skills like problem-solving, patience, creative thinking, and self-confidence," Yousif Jarbou, a member of Robo Ibdaa, said. 

For Abdullah Jarwan, the team leader, "the competition was a gathering of people from different countries, so in addition to programming robots, we exchanged expertise with other teams where we shared our culture and learnt about theirs", he added.

Maha Darwish, president of Ibdaa Foundation, said that "these young people were Jordan's ambassadors not only to the US but to all the participating countries".

"The team showed marvellous skills in the competition and proved their ability to work together and solve problems," Ishraq Tarawneh, one of the team trainers said.

"Money bears fruit when invested in the right place with the right people," Ammar Malhas told The Jordan Times adding "these young men have great minds and potentials, so all they needed is a good opportunity and some support in order to become world champions". 

During their stay at the US, the team had a chance to visit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to "widen their horizons and explore more about the world of technology". 

Team members expressed their appreciation for the opportunity given to them and said their visit to NASA inspired them to work harder for next year's FLL challenge, which will be under the theme "space". 

The team members, aged between 14 and 16 years old, were: Abdullah Jarwan, Hassan Abu Fares, Yousif Jarbou, Nourhan Gharbali, Rahaf Zorba, Remal Haimour and Maysaa Abu Ali. 

The team was trained by Raed Ghanem, Mohammad Abu Fares and Ishraq Tarawneh with the help of two assisting trainers, who were previously team members; Baker Maksab and Ahmad Abu Rabea.

FLL is an international competition for elementary and middle school students, where participating teams are challenged to find solutions to a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., by designing, building and programming a robot using LEGO Mind storms technology, then competing on a table-top playing field, according to FLL's website.

The Robo Ibdaa team works on rotation, whereby team members are renewed every year since 2014. Previous teams won the first place at the 2014's FLL in the US and four trophies in the 2015 season. 

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