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TMCNet:  High-flying pupils find science can be fun [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]

[December 29, 2013]

High-flying pupils find science can be fun [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]

(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ABU DHABI // As a string of homemade drones took to the air, the gasps of delight from the pupils signalled the end of a successful TechQuest camp.

The biannual event aims to spark youngsters' interest in science and maths to encourage them to follow careers in these industries.

On the final day of camp yesterday, excited teams of children used iPads to fly their drones through hoops before a winning model was chosen.

Parents watched on and flocked to display booths to see what the youngsters had learnt and created.

Sanaa Marhaben said her daughter had enjoyed and benefited from the camp.

"I feel she has matured. She's more into science and she thinks in a more technical way now," she said. "She can tell me what she did in detail, which she didn't used to.

"When she came back from school she was not excited, but now she is vibrant, full of life." The mother of three said the camp's organisers, Advanced Technology Investment Company, should definitely continue it.

Thuraya Al Hammadi enrolled her son and daughter in the camp, which was held at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

She admitted they were not excited at the beginning but soon changed their minds. "They are more creative now and they are able to connect what they learnt to their daily life," she said.

"I enjoyed their presentations and especially liked that they were taught how to merge motion with computer programming." Ms Al Hammadi said that when she was at school, learning about physics involved reading from a book, while TechQuest allowed pupils to learn in a practical way.

"My children tried to understand physics with their hands and they saw practically how it worked," she said.

The Emirati said her children loved taking part and were now considering engineering courses at university, a move that she is encouraging.

Teachers volunteered to help the pupils, from Grades 9 to 12, master the fields of technology, manufacturing, electronics and engineering. Afra Rashed Al Marbooei, who teaches a communication and information technology course, said the children really enjoyed their time.

"They have gained from this camp. I feel they came to learn and the classes here are not following a solid schedule like that in a school's curriculum. The students will agree this is more fun," she said.

Another teacher, Adnan Al Shakhatrah, said many of the youngsters gained an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths, also known as Stem subjects.

"They had enthusiasm and they are always curious," Mr Al Shakhatrah said.

"They were always trying to do their best in challenges and I think they loved it." He said pupils were unsure what careers they wanted to pursue at the start of the camp, but that by the end of the two weeks they had a range of options.

"There are a lot of plans for the UAE to have many industries and to be leading," Mr Al Shakhatrah said.

"For that plan to succeed the youth need to seek those leadership careers.

"They got to know the many jobs they could get into, and many have decided to go into engineering after TechQuest." Eighty-five pupils from Abu Dhabi took part in the camp.

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