STEM wraps up Al Awael school’s academic year

STEM wraps up Al Awael school’s academic year

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Nisma Rafiq
Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Every school holds a science fair annually so that students can demonstrate what they have learned in the classrooms. Surprising to some, a science fair project is one of the best learning experience a students can undertake. It is simple and straightforward example of active learning – students pick the question he or she would like to answer, research and present. They are a great way for students to become more knowledgeable about the world around them.

However, Al Awael school experimented with a different idea this year, and it not just represented science, but integrated technology, engineering and mathematics in projects. As 21st century learners, it is important for students to know how to use science, technology, engineering and mathematics in everyday classes to prepare themselves for the future. For this purpose Al Awael school organized their first STEM fair 2016-17.

Students and teachers started to prepare for the STEM fair from the start of the academic year by integrating projects with classroom lessons. “It seemed impossible in the beginning because of the quality of products used, limited resources and time restraints, we were almost going to cancel, but we gave it another try,” Shamima Moosa, math teacher told Saudi Gazette. “That another try was everything – we were successful in making extraordinary projects from the scratch.”

Students of Al Awael school expressed their excitement about the STEM fair. Leinah Khutani, a student of grade 6 was unable to contain her enthusiasm as she demonstrated the parachute made out of shopping bag. “It is an inspiring idea to help us find our talents and make decision for our future,” she said. Parents were invited to attend the STEM fair and they were astonished to see projects made out of recycled and reused materials.

Jaweria Ijaz, the science teacher, assisted the students in making the STEM fair a success. “The students made efforts and the endless support of all the teachers and especially the academic director made the event possible,” she stated. “By exposing students to STEM we have given them chances to discover STEM-related concepts, whilst hoping that they will develop a passion for it.”

Parents were mesmerized to see the origami 3D peacock, the movement of hydraulic arm, engineering behind newspaper igloo, beautifully balanced marshmallow-spaghetti tower, well- structured hot-glue Eiffel Tower, a stable popsicle bridge. However, the project of Qattan sisters stole the show. They demonstrated the jet engine made out of nothing but reusable materials  — all in one STEM project.

Later, everyone was anxious about the helium balloon-rocket but it failed to fly because of its weight. The attendees still appreciated students for their hard work and dedication. Kenda and Fatima from grade 3 dazzled the mothers with a cardboard and string guitar integrating engineering and science. Team of teachers Ghina Osta, Maisa Mudathir, Rania Saqat, Renad Haj Ali, Mahjabeen Sultana, Salma Aqeeli, Nisma Muhammad, Maha Turky, Misbah Khushi and many others made sure that STEM fair was able to answer the students’ favorite question in the classrooms, “Why do I have to learn this?”

Parents gave a positive feedback about the fair and appreciated Shifa Al Fakeih, the owner of the school, Naeema Azhari, principal, for their patronage. Manal Zeineddine, the academic director, who organized this event, expressed gratification. “We are extremely proud that this year could encompass a unique experience of learning that exceeded students’ textbooks. We have ventured into 21st century domain, in which simple projects lined a new dimension of learning. Through STEM, which we have been integrating since the beginning of this year in all our lessons, students and teachers discovered how the two core subjects they are familiar with, science and mathematics, are connected to technology and engineering. By combining the four subjects, they enjoyed the work and above all, they have entered the new realm of 21st century learning. I thank our dedicated teachers and vibrant students for making STEM fair a success!”