Dubai, UAE: From special glasses that use eye movement to help the user communicate, to devices to improve navigation, there was much to see and do on the first day of the Think Science Fair.
Hundreds of excited children from schools across the UAE converged on Dubai World Trade Centre on Monday to learn more about science.
The three-day event aims to encourage children into careers in the sciences and engineering, as well as provide an opportunity for budding young inventors.
Hood Al Noamani, a student at Applied Technology High School for Boys in Abu Dhabi, was part of a team that developed “Morse Glass”.
The month-long project aimed to create a device that could help people who are unable to move their bodies.
“We have a sensor on the eyeglasses and it detects the movement of the eye,” he said.
“After calibrating it to someone, the device can be used with special software we have developed linked to an action or typing a word.
“So, in effect, they can ask their carer to get water or turn the air-conditioning up or down, for example.”
Hood’s team is one of a number of schools taking part in a competition to find the best new inventions in various categories.
Professor Bassam Abu-Hijleh, from the British University in Dubai, is part of the judging panel for the competition and the winners will be announced later this month.
“I’m impressed with the level of entries from last year,” he said.
“We’ve noticed that the participants have taken into account the latest technological developments in their projects.”
Inventions included wearable devices, products to measure individual health, renewable energy and the environment.
“It’s great to see young people looking at the world and seeing how they can apply their creativity to solve a problem,” he said.
A number of companies and universities also had stands with various workshops and activities children could do.
Mohammed Haitham, an engineering instructor at the Stem Land Education Centre in Dubai, said it was vital the younger generation took up careers in the sciences and engineering.
“One of the issues we are facing is that people don’t really have a real understanding of what engineering is,” he said.
“We are trying to change that by engaging with children over the next few days to give them a hands-on perspective.”
Dozens of pupils got the chance to try out various activities at the stand.
Children built their own robots, learnt about space exploration and marine engineering.
“Our challenge was to build an underwater robot to collect objects,” said Emma Froehlich, 13, from Germany. “It was really interesting because you learn how to add things to create buoyancy and how to add motors to drive the machine.”
She was helped by her friend and fellow Jumeirah College pupil Isabella Dewhurst, 13, from Australia.
“Adding the propellers was a bit tricky but once you learn how to connect the correct wires, you can see how things work,” Isabella said.
Ted Bongiovanni, director of primary and secondary education engagement at NYU Abu Dhabi, was delighted with the response from youngsters.
“We are trying to make the invisible visible by showing visitors some of the things we do at the university,” he said.
NYUAD gave children the chance to see 3D printing in action and how it can be used in science. Small clip-on magnifying devices were printed out and 3.5mm glass beads were added to a small hole. The object was then placed on to the lens of a smartphone camera, transforming the device into a microscope.
“Hopefully by showing children some of the fun and exciting things they can do in science, it will get them more interested in pursuing it as a profession,” Mr Bongiovanni added.
Think Science, which has been organised by Emirates Foundation, ends on Thursday.
© The National
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