Qatar STEAM fires up young researchers
13 Mar 2016 - 12:52
Qatar STEAM brought together some of the brightest scientific minds from around the country. With 330 students competing, it boasted a record participation. A total of 170 research projects were presented over the course of the fair.
By Fazeena Saleem
Doha: Determined to reduce the risk of cancer, Noor Al Kuwari and Noora Al Shukri from Al Bayan Secondary School for Girls, have based a research project on how altering eating habits can prevent the illness. Carrying out extensive research and experiments, the team found that natural forms of Vitamin C can dramatically reduce the risk of cancer.
The result of a survey by Noor and Noora on eating habits of teens revealed that majority of teens in Qatar do not consume enough fresh produce. Their research seeks to demonstrate how consuming vegetables after eating processed foods can counter the risks of many cancer causing substances found in these processed foods.
The two young girls were among hundreds of young students who showcased their exceptional skills over three days at the second Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math Fair (Qatar STEAM Fair).
“Our teacher inspired us to enter Qatar STEAM and we are so glad we did. It has been an eye-opening experience and we’ve learnt so much from all the research we’ve conducted,” said Noor.
“Participating in Qatar STEAM has definitely proved to us the value of research and how it can be used to contribute to solutions to major challenges facing Qatar and the world,” Noor added.
Qatar STEAM brought together some of the brightest scientific minds from around the country. With 330 students competing, 65 percent of whom were Qatari, from 67 independent and international middle and secondary schools, it boasted record participation. Additionally, a total of 170 research projects were presented over the course of the fair.
Qatar Foundation Research and Development’s (QF R&D) Qatar STEAM Fair concluded on Thursday. It was organised in collaboration with Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a member of QF R&D, and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
Participants presented their research projects to a judging panel comprising of 56 leading industry experts from local education institutions and ministries, who assessed project submissions in Computing, Biomedicine, Mathematics and Physics, Basic Sciences, Engineering, Chemistry, Energy, Behavioural and Social Sciences. Judges awarded prizes in each category to the projects that were the most innovative and demonstrated sound research skills.
In the Grand Awards category, Sara Khalaf Al Kubaisi and Tamara Ismail Bashir from Moza Bint Mohammed Preparatory Independent School for Girls won first place for their project titled ‘The Impact of Sports Jacket on Amending the Runner’s Spine during Athletic Running’. Abdulrahman A Mohammed and Ahmed S El Hamamsi from Ahmed Bin Hanbal Independent Secondary School for Boys took home second place, while Maryam A Al Ansari and Heba Redwan from Al Eman Independent Secondary School for Girls were awarded third place.
“The second edition of the competition has been a phenomenal success, with record participation. This year we introduced the Mentor Program, which, I believe, gave students the additional support and guidance they needed to succeed,’’ said Dr Hamad Al Ibrahim, Executive Vice-President at Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D) and Chairman of Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP).
‘’Qatar STEAM is the only competition of its kind in the country that enables young students to develop their research skills and explore the field of science in an exciting yet intense setting. It’s been incredible to witness the tremendous talent and ability displayed by the participants who, I have no doubt, will go on to make significant contributions to Qatar and the field of science,’’ Dr Al Ibrahim added.
Since the first day of the competition, eager and bright students took the floor with their projects that some have worked four to five months. In the Math section, Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamed and Abdul Aziz Jassim Al Yafei from Ibn Taymiyyah Secondary School for boys project was on ‘digitising for the visually impaired to replace numerical numbers from brail.’
Shaimaa Said and Fay Abdullah Al Meer, alongside their teacher from Al Bayan Secondary School for girls conducted research for 2-3 months, taking measurements in December about driving in Qatar and questioned how safe we really are from ultraviolet rays whilst in our cars in their hopes to win the competition.
Lina Draidia and Wenya Al Murikhi also from Al Bayan Secondary School for girls, believe that using algae as a bio-fertiliser instead of harmful chemical fertilisers will dramatically transform the agriculture industry in Qatar and the world. Carrying out a number of experiments, the team collected algae samples from different locations across Doha. Dried algae powder was added to the soil of two sample plants, while chemical fertiliser was added to soil of two other sample plants. Over time, this experiment proved their hypothesis that algae is far more effective than chemical fertilisers.
Driven by a passion to preserve the earth, the team are on a mission to realise their dream of using algae to transform the agriculture industry and ultimately preserve the environment in Qatar and the world.
“Using algae as a fertiliser has been explored in parts of the world, but has never been implemented successfully. We believe that this will completely revolutionise the industry and make a huge impact on alleviating damage to the environment,” said Lina Draidia.
“We’re really excited to present our project to the judges and we hope that we can see this idea become a reality in the future,” added Draidia.
Mohammad bin Abdul Wahhab and Xandre Immanuel Acosta set out to show how a solar powered hydroponic sprinkler system can be used to increase food production and nutrients of fresh produce. The team offers a great solution to the agriculture limitations facing Qatar given its arid climate. Using the searing heat to their advantage, their solar powered system offers a sustainable solution to food production.
“I believe this is a great opportunity for young students to be involved in addressing and solving some of the challenges we face while contributing to Qatar in a positive way,” said Acosta.
“Qatar STEAM is a great stepping stone for students, it highlights the importance of research and how it can be used to make a positive impact. It’s important that our generation is actively involved in ensuring a sustainable life for future generations. We have enjoyed every minute of putting our projects together and we look forward to presenting our project to the judges,” Acosta added.
First place Grand Award winner Sara Khalaf Al Kubaisi said, “Participating in Qatar STEAM has been hugely beneficial. Through this competition we got the opportunity to meet new people, learn new research methods and were introduced to many experts in the field of science. Firstly, we were not expecting to win the first place but God blessed us. I hope we can make our parents and our country proud. Of course, we need to give all our thanks to our teacher Hajar, who really made this all possible. Thank God. Hopefully in the future we can benefit further from this experience.”
“In the future, we want to develop this jacket that we made not just for sports, but for everyone. I also wish the best for all the rest that have competed from all the other schools. I am very excited for the Intel competition because we are going to present our invention in front of the entire world and even if we don’t win, us reaching there is a big win for us. It might be too ambitious but we aim to win,” she added.
Ranking fifth in the Grand Awards’ category, Usra El Shaikh said, “Firstly, we had no expectations, like of course we worked hard on it, but we just agreed to participate only to gain the experience. It was a shock, big shock for us to win fifth place. I believe this experience will benefit me when I go on to pursue my university studies in Biology. We learned a lot from the other students’ research projects too. We also had the privilege of getting to know professors that have extensive knowledge in various research areas.”
Answering to why she wanted to participate in this competition, Usra said: “We believe that Qatar STEAM is the perfect platform to showcase our research findings, it gives us a stronger voice. There is always the possibility that an expert in the field would see our research and be impressed and want to work with us.”
Participants at the second edition of Qatar STEAM also agreed that winning is secondary to the great amount of experience they gained from participating in the competition.