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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 March 2019

A Mars mobile and camel health-checks on display at Abu Dhabi science fair

Enterprising Emirati talent goes on display as Think Science Fair tours the country

Fatima Alnaimi and Anoud Al Katheeri show off their Mars vehicle design at Khalifa University. Victor Besa / The National      
Fatima Alnaimi and Anoud Al Katheeri show off their Mars vehicle design at Khalifa University. Victor Besa / The National      

From a Mars rover to help astronauts navigate the Red Planet to a hi-tech way to check if a camel is sick, innovations from enterprising young Emiratis were celebrated as a nationwide science fair rolled into Abu Dhabi.

An array of dazzling inventions masterminded by high-school pupils and university students were put on display at the Think Science Fair at Khalifa University on Sunday.

Thousands of visitors flocked to Abu Dhabi to see projects from more than 750 aspiring scientists set to make their mark in a range of fields, from space travel to health care.

The fair began in 2013 as an attempt to encourage young Emiratis to pursue careers in science and technology.

This year, fairs will be held in all seven emirates with the best science projects from each going forward to a grand final in April, when a nationwide winner will be decided.

Hend Al Sanadi demonstrates a recycling robot arm at the Think Science Fair. Victor Besa / The National
Hend Al Sanadi demonstrates a recycling robot arm at the Think Science Fair. Victor Besa / The National

A Mars car designed by Fatima Alnaimi and Anoud Al Katheeri turned plenty of heads.

Funded by UAE University’s national space and technology centre and costing a mere Dh80,000, the two-seater vehicle is the first car to be made to carry astronauts on Mars.

Shaima Alawadhi, 20, came up with a way to break down communication barriers for autistic children.

She designed an app with a range of different emojis to help children to express themselves more easily.

Manar Mohammed, 17, from Applied Technology High School, created a device that measures a camel’s heartbeat and temperature, so that owners will know if their animal is unwell.

“Camels don’t look ill if they are suffering from a problem,” she said.

Manar came up with the idea after her own camel died when the person in charge of the animal was unaware it was ill because the beast displayed no outward signs of distress.

“This is why this device is important, to notify owners if there is something wrong with their camel,” she said.

The Adnoc Technical Academy team displayed their intelligent wheelchair design. Victor Besa / The National     
The Adnoc Technical Academy team displayed their intelligent wheelchair design. Victor Besa / The National     

Dr Maryam Matar, chairwoman and founder of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association, said the students’ view of the future was a global one.

“This fair makes you optimistic about the future, by just seeing how these youths are translating knowledge through science, which is what we have been lacking for generations in the UAE.

“You can also see that their subject matter is global – we are no longer living within a narrow UAE agenda but a global one.”

Think Science is run with the support of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Emirates Foundation.

Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, said the nationwide scheme helped to promote young Emirati talent.

The Dolphin Energy team give visitors a demonstration of their dry-ice creation. Victor Besa / The National   
The Dolphin Energy team give visitors a demonstration of their dry-ice creation. Victor Besa / The National   

“The Think Science competition is one of the most important initiatives to elevate the capabilities of UAE youths. It is a unique platform that nurtures student talent, creativity and innovative research in science and technology and creates a foundation for developing a new generation of scientists and leaders in areas central to our nation’s progress.”

The Abu Dhabi leg of the Think Science Fair series came after the success of a recent event in Dubai, which was attended by more than 7,000 people.

Future Think Science events will be held in other emirates, including Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain next month.

Updated: February 25, 2019 05:54 PM

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