Posted on November 19, 2018

Al-Bairaq at Qatar University (QU) hosted a closing ceremony in which it wrapped up 14 courses in innovation for education and research. Al-Bairaq is presented by QU’s Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) and is a non-traditional educational project in which students at Qatari secondary schools work in teams with highly exquisite university-level scientists on practical scientific problems.

The ceremony, which took place at the QU Research Complex Auditorium, was the culmination of efforts by students who underwent a unique experience through Al-Bairaq, by joining the “I am Discovering Materials” program. The program saw the creation of many innovative projects and products through healthy competition in an enthusiastic, scientific atmosphere. The ceremony showcased the projects of 193 participants, who come from nine different male and female secondary schools, locally and outside Doha. The students presented their innovations to the jury, hoping to win first place. The event was attended by a number of representatives from supporting institutions such as UNESCO and Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, and a range of specialists from major companies to evaluate the work of the students.

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Prior to the ceremony, the participants undertook intensive training and attended scientific workshops in the field of material science provided by Al-Bairaq. The training was conducted in order to provide students with the scientific background and skills required to identify problems and discover effective solutions. The journey started several months ago, in their respective school labs, where they tackled different scientific topics such as polymers, composites, smart sensors, biodegradable materials. The students were taught through the educational approach STEAM, which stands for uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics, and is an integrated approach to acquiring science, motivating students to innovate and spark curiosity. It also provides the participants with skills in scientific research, presenting, critical thinking, problem solving, safe working skills in the laboratory, and much more.

Al-Bairaq aims to attract young Qatari students to study science and engineering at the university level, by engaging them in an educational experience that expands their perception and allows them to be curious and inquisitive. In 2015, Al-Bairaq won the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) award for Innovation in Education. Al-Bairaq’s way of teaching is preferable to traditional methods of acquiring science, which young adults may find boring and as a result becomes ineffective. The pillars of Al-Bairaq are in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 in the areas of education, research, human development and sustainability.

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Dr. Noora Al Thani, CAM Manager of Outreach and Engagement and Al Bairaq Supervisor spoke at the ceremony and expressed her happiness and pride in the achievement of the students' level of thinking and performance. Dr. Noora praised the efforts of all partners in Al-Bairaq and the efforts of all university professors, researchers, assistants, and members of her team.

Al-Bairaq is a step in the direction of supporting Qatar’s commitment in promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and applied research in order to develop a knowledge-based economy, enrich its human capital and improve its competitiveness. It also stresses interdisciplinary research that can cover any and all STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The “I am Discovering Materials” track is one of the most important tracks in Al-Bairaq project. It aims to introduce the students to a variety of topics in materials science and present them in an exciting way. Generally, this track gives the students an opportunity to understand the world around them in a way they have never experienced before. They are encouraged to make a direct connection between what they are learning in class and their everyday lives. Moreover, this track inspires the students’ creativity through the design projects assigned to them.