x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pupils encouraged to take jobs in science

As part of the 11-day programme at Abu Dhabi University, which ends this week, students have been learning how to build water rocket launchers and robots, experiment with electronic circuits and investigate a crime scene.

Students in the Tech Quest science programme use air pressure to launch a bottle of water at Abu Dhabi University.
Students in the Tech Quest science programme use air pressure to launch a bottle of water at Abu Dhabi University.

ABU DHABI // Emirati pupils have been tweeting about robots and crime-scene investigation to spread the word that science is cool.

The 80 "science ambassadors" from grades 8 and 9 in the Tech Quest programme have been sparking interest among their peers through social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

"We want the children to see what cool things are on offer in the world of science and technology," said Rabei Wazzeh, the executive director of Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group.

The group is organising the event, along with the Advanced Technology Investment Company (Atic) and the Abu Dhabi Education Council.

Mr Wazzeh said the purpose of the initiative was to persuade students to chose "Stem" subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at university.

As part of the 11-day programme at Abu Dhabi University, which ends this week, students have been learning how to build water rocket launchers and robots, experiment with electronic circuits and investigate a crime scene.

For Ahmed Al Junaibi, 13, crime-scene investigation, which includes analysing fingerprints, hold the most appeal.

"I like to look for clues, like a scavenger hunt," Ahmed said. "My brothers and I play a game at home where we hide each other's phones and then put clues around the house to find them."

Emirati students graduating from high school tend to study the arts and literature rather than science and technology, said Hanan Harhara, the head of human capital at Atic.

Ms Harhara said she hoped Tech Quest would show students "the full spectrum of the choices and career opportunities they have in a fun way".

The social-networking campaign is a tool for youngsters to "tell their friends there is a strong need for science in the UAE", said Marwa Abdallah, the head of project management at the university's knowledge group.

The aspiring engineer Ismail Alfahim, 13, said: "It's a good opportunity to help me reach a higher level when I get older. Science is everywhere, like math, so you have to know something about it."

A handful of students at Tech Quest submitted science projects this week to Google's international science fair.

Top prizes for the annual competition include a trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions, scholarships and work opportunities in science centres of excellence around the world.

molson@thenational.ae