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Teenage robotics team to represent Jordan at int'l championship

By Renad Aljadid - Mar 27,2018 - Last updated at Mar 27,2018

The Robo Ibdaa team poses for a group photo in Egypt recently (Photo courtesy of Robo Ibdaa)

AMMAN — The Jordanian team "Robo Ibdaa" will represent the Arab world at the international championship First Lego League (FLL) in Houston, US, after they seized first place at the 11th Arab Robotics Championship in Egypt on Sunday.

Competing against 38 teams from 15 Arab countries, the team excelled in the three main aspects of the FLL Arab championship challenge, including the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values, according to Mohammad Abu Fares, one of the Jordanian trainers.

"The robot game requires programming an autonomous robot, while the project entails developing a solution to a real-world problem under a particular theme — water for this edition — all guided by the FLL core values such as teamwork, discovery and team spirit," Abu Fares explained.

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 victories achieved by the team are "a real worthwhile investment", according to Malhas, who told The Jordan Times "these young people are the future of Jordan and, with such support, we are building our country, which is not only the land, but also the people and their minds".

For Maha Darwish, the Ibdaa Foundation President, "the collective efforts of the civil society organisations and the private sector funders are what create opportunities, generate hopes, and achieve dreams."

"These young people had great minds and potentials but limited resources. As soon as they were supported and trained, they achieved great success" Darwish recalled.

Raed Ghanem, a senior trainer of the team said: "I have worked as a robotics trainer for years, including outside of Jordan, but I can undoubtedly say that these young people have a unique sense of creativity, passion for learning, patience and determination."

"When we first enrolled in the training, we had very limited knowledge of physics, maths, programming and even English, but the people at the centre from the trainers, coaches, and our fellow colleagues, have taught us so many things and we earned life-long skills," team leader Abdullah Jarwan told The Jordan Times.

"We are all very happy with what we achieved and we hope to raise the name of our country in the international championship as well," said Rahaf Zorba, another team member, adding "we won something that is more valuable than the prize itself. We won great relationships, new lessons and lovely memories."

For her father, Jamal Zorba, "my daughter came back a completely different person. She is now ambitious, independent, and strong."

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's season.

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