Science-Minded Youth Build Robotics in Innovation Competition

Young refugees are learning about robotics, coding, and 3D printing, turning their interests into opportunities. Coached by older peers studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in university, young people in Za’atari Camp are empowering each other and learning together.

A UNHCR-funded Innovation Lab officially opens next month in Za’atari Camp, providing a new opportunity for children and young adults to explore technology while building teamwork and leadership skills. Courses will be led by the Jubilee Institute, a leading educational organization in Jordan, as well as other subject-matter experts, including coaching from university students and trained engineers or designers that live in Za’atari. Nearly 200 students are already enrolled for courses in robotics, 3D printing, and coding.

a team competes at the robotics competition
A team competes at the robotics competition in Za’atari Camp’s Innovation Lab

The Lab’s first initiative—a robotics competition—brought 35 boys and girls ages 12-16 together to create their own machines. The young inventors were coached by Za’atari students studying engineering and information technology at university, whose studies are supported by UNHCR’s DAFI scholarships. They received three days of training from Jubilee to hone their mentoring and leadership skills.

Teams spent 3-4 weeks working with Lego robotics kits to prepare for the competition, learning to code and program robots with support from their university coaches. While all the projects impressed the Jubilee Institute judges, the winner was a robot that picked up ping pong balls by remote control.

“Thanks to this tournament, I learned how to build a robot and how to operate it,” one participant said. “We achieved our goal and had fun.”

The top three teams were invited to compete in the National Robotics Competition in Amman on November 23 alongside 39 other teams from across the country. The group was presented the Inspiration Award for their efforts, and one team placed fifth and qualified for the regional competition in Egypt in March 2020.

 

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Blumont’s Za’atari Community Based Protection Program (CBP), funded by UNHCR, works to protect the well-being, rights and dignity of Za’atari Camp residents through integrated and sustainable programming focused on case management, community mobilization and community engagement.

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