Posted on June 20, 2015

One hundred and fifty science, technology, engineering and maths teachers from high schools across Qatar were celebrating tonight at an awards ceremony held at the College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q). The ceremony recognised the efforts of teachers from around the country who had completed 30 hours of intensive training and instruction in the use of robotics programming in classroom settings.

Each of the teachers had successfully participated in ten, 3-hour training sessions delivered by CNA-Q’s Information Technology faculty since the start of the year, while training is ongoing for a further 150 teachers at the college.

The study and use of robotics kits by high school students has been shown to improve problem solving and creativity as well as team working skills. The positive impact of robotics programming in supporting the delivery of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects has also been recognised by the Supreme Education Council which has backed its use as an effective and engaging way to teach technical and engineering skills to high school students.

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Robotics has been included in IT curricula for most grades at all Independent Schools in Qatar, with students in grades three through to ten now required to participate in one hour of robotics programming instruction each week. The training in robotics programming is one of the core elements of the national school robotics programme, GO ROBOT, which was established in 2012 by Maersk Oil Qatar in partnership with CNA-Q. The programme is sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar and reflects the business’ sustained efforts to encourage greater participation in STEM subjects in Qatar.

As the largest private sector supporter of STEM skills in Qatar, Maersk Oil Qatar has played a vital role in driving the development of a number of programmes in the past few years. In addition to GO ROBOT, Maersk Oil Qatar is the leading partner of Texas A&M University Qatar in developing future generations of engineers through an extensive portfolio of STEM development and outreach programmes. Maersk Oil Qatar also supports Qatar University’s Al Bairaq programme, a non-traditional educational programme in which students at Qatari high schools work in teams with university-level scientists on practical scientific problems.

Maersk Oil Qatar has shaped the focus of each of these programmes around delivering against three key objectives. The first is to increase the capacity and capability of teachers and educators through enhancing and accelerating their professional development. The second is to increase enthusiasm and engagement with STEM subjects amongst students themselves from primary to high school and beyond. Thirdly, to ensure that the design and delivery of such programmes is backed by a strong evidence-base and shaped by the latest academic research and insight.

As well as supporting teachers’ professional development, it is anticipated that the training programme will also encourage ever wider participation in the already popular National Robot Olympiad and World Robot Olympiad which take place in Qatar later this year on October 30 – November 1st, and 6th – 8th November respectively. Both competitions challenge teams of students from Qatar and around the world to put their skills to the test in building robots capable of solving a variety of gaming challenges. This year marks the first time that the World Robot Olympiad will be hosted by Qatar, and teams from more than 50 countries are expected to travel to the country to participate in the Championship.

Commenting on the awards ceremony, Sheikh Jassim Al Thani, Head of Qatarization at Maersk Oil Qatar said: “The GO ROBOT programme clearly demonstrates how robotics can help students develop the skills that will set them on a pathway to success as well as enabling Qatar to fulfil its promise in delivering its National Vision 2030. The programme is the ideal example of what can be achieved by balancing support for teachers’ professional development with efforts to boost students’ enthusiasm for these critically important subjects. We’re proud to be a part of its success and to support the continued efforts of the country’s talented and committed teachers and educators.”

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Dr. Theodore Chiasson, Dean of Information Technology at College of North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q) said: “My colleagues and I are delighted that we’re able to celebrate the commitment and success of so many teachers. Our programme of training and professional development has grown considerably in the time that we’ve been running it and it is enormously satisfying to witness the progress of those educators who have completed it. They play a hugely important role in building enthusiasm and engagement with STEM subjects and developing the vital technical skills that the country depends on for the delivery of its ambitious National Vision 2030.”

Since 2012, the GO ROBOT programme has reached more than 8,000 students in Qatar and more than 1,000 teachers have participated in robotics training sessions. In addition, GO ROBOT has distributed more than one million Qatari riyals worth of kits to teachers and schools. More than 500 robotics kits were distributed to teachers last year along with more than 180 robotics games tables.