1,500 students compete in national robotics contest

16 teams will be selected to represent the UAE in the worldwide leg of the competition

16:16 October 16, 2016
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Abu Dhabi: Aisha Faisal likes robots very much, and she envisions a day when they will do her homework for her.

“I think robots will soon be able to help us do mundane tasks like homework, or washing the dishes and cleaning the house. In the meantime, we can focus on things of real importance,” the Emirati eighth grader, from Al Reem School in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News on Sunday.

For Sahil Shaheen, 16, a Grade 11 pupil at Our Own Indian School Dubai, this means having the luxury to explore advanced fields like artificial intelligence.

“Already, robots have taken up many tasks previously performed by humans. So we should gain knowledge that will allow us to perform tasks that robots cannot, and increase the scope of human learning,” he explained.

The two pupils are participating in the National Robot Olympiad, a two-day national competition that tests students’ prowess in the field of robotics. It is being organised by Abu Dhabi emirate’s education sector regulator, Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), and boasts 1,500 participants from across the UAE this year.

A total of 16 teams, each comprising two to three members, will then be selected to compete in the World Robot Olympiad in India next month.

“These kinds of activities are the hallmarks of 21st century learning, which is marked by a focus on creativity, innovation and teamwork. After all, students today have to be the backbone of the education system, not teachers,” said Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, Adec director-general, following a tour of the event.

The contest was open to students of all ages enrolled in public and private schools across the UAE. It featured three categories, and students competed against one another in three different age groups.

“This robotics challenge tests knowledge of core Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects, and also measures children’s skills, including their critical thinking, communication and problem-solving abilities. It is therefore aligned with Abu Dhabi’s educational goals,” said Dr Karima Al Mazroui, executive director for P-12 (kindergarten to Grade 12) at Adec.

Finalists who represent the UAE in the worldwide leg of the competition, which focuses on recycling and waste management this year, will be announced on October 17.