Student-teacher invention wins plaudits at home and abroad

28 March 2011

28 March 2011
Bethlehem, West Bank

For 14-year old Iman Qraqa’a and her teacher, Maysoon, it has been an unforgettable week. The student-teacher team from an UNRWA school in Bethlehem was one of three winners at the Palestine Science and Technology fair, winning a place at the Intel fair in Los Angeles with their invention of a life-saving ventilation system.

The new invention works wirelessly and electronically to transport air from indoors, sounding an alarm when a gas leak causes an increase in carbon monoxide. Iman and teacher Maysoon decided to try to combating the dangers resulting from gas leaks in the home after hearing about an increase in the number of asphyxia sufferers.

The right steps

For the last two years, Maysoon and Iman, from Aida camp’s school, grew increasingly concerned about the many accidents related to gas leaks in Bethlehem, some of which have proven fatal. Starting out, the teacher and student experimented with various different designs, including an electronic window and a special gas-leak alarm, before arriving at the perfect idea: an electronic ventilator that pumps air outside from inside the home, and includes an alarm. Boasting an innovative design, the ventilator works wirelessly and can be connected to the main ventilator in a house or any other building; all without digging up ground, or breaking any walls.

The two consulted with technical experts and partners from local technology firm Ibtiker to make sure that they were on the right track. After four months and much hard work, they achieved their vision and were able to show off the final product.

The competition

Maysoon and Iman’s invention was one of three finalists from UNRWA schools represented at the Palestine Science and Technology Exhibition, where some 40 entrants exhibited their work. From there, the invention was just one of three projects chosen to represent Palestine at the world’s largest science and engineering competition for young people: the Intel International Science and Engineering (ISEF) Fair in Los Angeles, California.

Motivation to help others

Despite their success, the team has not stopped there. Iman and her teacher hope to develop their life-saving invention by adding new technology; for example, an SMS capability enabling customers to use their mobile phones to activate an automatic safety valve. Moreover, they want to help other students emulate their triumph, says UNRWA teacher Maysoon:

“Our success has already motivated many of my other students to think creatively and bringing new ideas, in preparation for the national science and technology fair next year.

“My goal now is for my team to win the top prize in Los Angeles!”

Here, student and teammate Iman jumps in: “I cannot express my happiness at our achievement. When I heard that we had won the national prize, I had tears of happiness. I want to thank Maysoon for all her hard work for our team, as well as to the other teachers and principal in our school for all the support and encouragement they gave us.”

About the Fair

Palestine Science and Technology Fair (PSTF) is an annual fair sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education with support from Intel Corp. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education implements this project in collaboration with Alnayzak Foundation for scientific creativity.
PSTF aims to develop the skills of applied scientific research for students in grades 9 to 11, and targets all public, private and UNRWA schools in Palestine.

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