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More than 20,000 students participated in several activities through the week. Initiatives saw students working together on priority areas of development for the UAE

Community engagement, design-thinking, and 21st century skills development were the key themes of the activities at GEMS schools in their fortnight long celebrations of the UAE Week of Innovation. Over 20,000 students across different GEMS Education schools took part in various activities.

Students had in-class lessons focussed on solving problems within the priority areas of the UAE Year of Innovation including transportation, health, education, space and renewable energy. In addition, they had the opportunity to participate in international and regional competitions, workshops, speakers’ series, and hack-a-thons.

As a part of the Dubai Silicon Oasis Innovation Festival, GEMS students from across the UAE and Saudi Arabia attended a two-day workshop on the technical and business aspects of Internet of Things offered by Intel at their Intel Ignition Lab. Students also attended LEGO and Smart Cities workshops, and parents were invited to coffee hours to highlight robotics, coding and social media.

Christine Nasserghodsi, Change Leader for Innovation, Research and Development at GEMS Education, said: “Internet of Things has the capacity to help us create new solutions in all of the priority sectors for the Year of Innovation. Sensors can be used to generate real time data on traffic and provide people with alternative transportation suggestions. We can also use this technology to understand and respond to the impact of our actions on the environment and even our own health. Students and teachers clearly see the value of understanding and being able to harness this technology for good.”

In other initiatives, pupils joined in the Mashreq GEMS Mobile Application Development Challenge to design interactive apps intended to encourage youth to engage in cashless transactions, many of which included games and incentive programmes.

Primary and secondary students from across GEMS schools also sharpened their creative media and design skills while participating in the global DECA Challenge which invites students to add value to a mystery item and create a video to market their new product within a week.

Speaking on the Challenge, two-time DECA finalist and GEMS Wellington International School Year 13 student Ruth Zacharia said: “Having only one week to create something completely new as well as a marketing strategy is challenging, but it teaches you to work with a team under pressure.” Students from GEMS schools came together to watch the top videos from each school at the Hollywood themed red carpet DECA Oscars.

Even the youngest students had a chance to get creative, as parents of Kindergarten students at the GEMS New Millennium School teamed up with their children during their school’s inaugural ‘Genius Hour’ to create upcycled products to sell for charity.

Students from GEMS FirstPoint School designed rockets and engaged in a community rocket launch, piquing interest in space technology and exploration. Year 5 FirstPoint student Coretin Millet said: “I was really afraid that my rocket would break when it was launched. I worked so hard to build it with my team and was proud and relieved that it went so far. I will, hopefully, be able to work on the Mars Mission project in the future.”

- GEMS Education