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Robotics contest unlocks students' talents in technology

By Muath Freij - Feb 29,2016 - Last updated at Feb 29,2016

Students participate in the 11th National Robotics Competition at the Jubilee Centre for Excellence in Education in Amman on Sunday (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — Majd Abu Dalou, who has a visual disability, did not have any clue about robotics and would have never thought he would be making a robot one day.

But an annual two-day robotics competition, held by the Jubilee Centre for Excellence in Education (JCEE) affiliated with the King Hussein Foundation (KHF), offered Abu Dalou, representing Basaer team and his colleagues who suffer from visual disability, a chance to learn more about the world of robotics and create their own robot. 

"We faced many hardships but we conquered them with our team spirit.  I did not give up because I am blind, I believed in myself and managed to create a robot," the 16-year-old student told The Jordan Times in an interview this week. 

With great passion and pride, Abu Dalou showed HRH Prince Hamzah, who attended the closing ceremony of the competition to honour the winners, the robot he and his colleagues created and talked animatedly about the project.

"In the past I did not have the courage to talk in public, but now I can talk to others and express myself," he said.

Forty-nine teams representing 29 education institutions from across Jordan participated in the 11th National Robotics Competition.

This year’s theme was “Trash Treks”, which explores robotic solutions for trash collection, sorting, smart production and reuse, according to a KHF statement. 

JCEE Director Ismail Hasan said science and education are for all segments of society from all over the kingdom.  

"Around 250 students between the ages of nine and 16 with their coaches took part in the competition," Hasan told The Jordan Times. 

He noted that these projects and competitions help put the students at the right scientific path and encourage them to invest their free time in a beneficial activity.

"These competitions help them be creative in bringing about solutions that resolve daily life problems," Hasan added. 

Mahmoud Hammash, the leader of the eight-member Basaer team, said theirs is the first team of students with visual disability that takes part in a robotics competition in the Arab world.

"We wanted to prove that we can design a robot and make it walk on the track.  In the beginning we faced all kinds of difficulties and we did not receive any kind of support except from the Jubilee centre," he told The Jordan Times 

Tharwat Shara, a trainer at the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Centre in Irbid affiliated with JCEE, said there are many talented students in the governorates but their schools do not discover them. 

"We urge public schools to implement similar activities to boost the skills of students in these areas and we hope that the government facilitates holding these activities as well," Shara told The Jordan Times. 

Sireena Shafaai, a STEM Centre student from Irbid, said the centre helped students in programming software and designing the robots.

"I wanted to take part in these contests in the past but did not find any kind of support. Workshops are available in Amman but the distance is too far for me. Now, thanks to the centre, I can participate in such workshops in my hometown," she added.  

Abu Dalou expressed hope that he can work in software programming in the future.

 

"I want to enhance my skills to join Google when I grow up."

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