In the first Lego robotics competition held at Birzeit University’s Najad Za’ni Center for Excellence in Information Technology, on 15 April, the top three prizeswent to students of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Competing against 23 other schools from all over the West Bank on designing a robot able to react to natural disasters, the UNRWA Askar Girls’ School took home the first prize, with their fellow-students from the UNRWA Qataneh School and the Nur Shams Boys’ School taking second and third place.
The winning design from the Askar girls was a computerized robot able to perform 18 tasks in less than two and a half minutes. Raja’ Sa’ed and Ghadeer Sawalha, IT and mathematics teachers and supervisors of the project, said: “Nablus is situated in an active seismic area, therefore preventive measures should be taken to enable us to cope with these possible disasters.”
School principal Sireen Dweikat stressed the importance of the competition process itself, saying it “provided students with the opportunity to innovate, invent and think of solutions to possible problems.”
The judging focused on students’ technique in four areas: the robot project and scientific research, task performance, teamwork and design and programming. The Askar girls focused their research on chemical infiltration from industrialfactories, an important concern given their school’s close proximity to a factory.
School staff and students were overjoyed by the news of victory. Sixth-grade student Farah said, “I was so happy to be part of this competition because it gave me a chance to think and innovate in a positive way.”
This is the fourth time that the UNRWA Askar Girls’ School has participated in scientific competitions, winning advanced positions each time. UNRWA provides its schools with scientific and computer labs that give them the opportunity to carry out experiments in different domains and under the supervision of qualified teachers, encouraging children to think of changes for a better world.