Birzeit University Holds First LEGO Robotics Competition

Birzeit University’s Najjad Zeenni Information Technology Center of Excellence (NZITCE) and Shuhub Association for Excellence in Science and Education held the First LEGO Robotics Competition on April 15, 2014.

The competition, sponsored by the National Beverage Coca-Cola / Cappy Company, was attended by 23 school teams from different governorates.

The contest focused on "natural disasters," such as earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, storms, fires and how to deal with the problems caused by these disasters. The participating teams demonstrated a sporting spirit and warm atmosphere during the competition.

Challenging competition rounds began under supervision of a specialized jury. After three rounds, first place was awarded to Askar Girls School, second place to Qatanna Girls School, and third place to Noor Shams Boys School.

The activities were kicked off during early morning hours on the NZITCE premises, with a jury interviewing the participating teams on their scientific research, robot design and programming and teamwork. Project selection was supervised by specialized committees from the different Palestinian universities and the public and private sectors, headed by Professor Ahmad Abu Haniyya from Birzeit University.

In her opening address, Vice President for Community Outreach Dr. Samia Halileh emphasized the importance of this flagship model in education, which is based on unconventional teaching supported by exploration and learning.

Coca-Cola Company Director Imad Hindi asserted that the company's support for this competition for the second year in a row is part of the company's conviction that such activities stimulate excellence, logical thinking and creative abilities.

Mamdouh and Jameeleh Saidam Foundation for Development and Innovation Coordinator Sabri Saydam praised the efforts made to make this competition a success, and emphasized that those who want to witness the future of Palestine should come and watch the innovations of the participating school students.

UNRWA deputy director of the education program in the West Bank Wahid Jubran commended participants on this creative activity with all its highlights and said that UNRWA is interested in supporting innovative activities, especially the robotics tutorial competition, which has growing participation from UNRWA schools.

First Robotics Competition Partner in Palestine Muhannad Omariyeh expressed his thanks and gratitude to Birzeit University and NZITCE for hosting the event and to all those who directly or indirectly contributed to the success of the competition.

Omariyeh explained that the number of student teams participating in the competition is growing year after year, and that a conference specializing in robotics and artificial intelligence was held last December 2013.  Omariyeh added that the conference’s most prominent recommendations to the ministries of education in the Arab world were to introduce robots at various stages of school education, open robotics research centers, and offer robot specializations at Arab universities.

At the end of his speech, Omariyeh announced the title of the coming contest. "The future of education" will focus on two questions: how does one acquire information and skills, and what kids should learn and how?