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ADEC: Public and private schools across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi took part in innovative activities as part of the UAE’s Innovation Week

All public and private schools across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi took part in different innovative and interactive activities this past week as part of Abu Dhabi Education Council’s (ADEC’s) guidance to promote and nurture young innovators who create new products and help diversify the economy in service of society.

Different activities, projects, programs and initiatives were launched in line with H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoom, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, instructions to launch the UAE Innovation Week from 22nd to 28th November 2015.

The wide range of innovative initiatives launched by the ADEC in 2015 aim to increase awareness among school leaders, teachers, students and the community at large, while embedding the culture of innovation in school curriculums with particular attention to eight of ADEC’s innovation initiatives, namely: innovation centers, programming for life, young scientist competition, Abu Dhabi innovates, innovation clubs, science ambassadors, innovation standards and innovation leaders.

During Innovation Day on the 23rd November 2015, all public schools were advised that no classes were to be held and instead organize innovative activities across the school.

ADEC launched milestone events during the past few days in line with innovation week, including a coding skills program to be offered to over a quarter of a million students across both public and private schools in partnership with Google; the Young Scientist initiative in partnership with Ireland’s 52nd year old Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition was also announced – to include both public and private school students.

In addition, an innovation exhibition was held at the Al Ittihad School from Monday 23rd November to Thursday 26th November 2015, attracting more than 400 female and male student visits. Students were briefed on the STEM and Scratch Competition to be held in April 2016, while they also gathered in-depth information on the different STEM related workshops show-cased at the exhibition. Students also got a chance to interact with physics and ICT teachers in the schools innovation and STEM lab.

During the week, innovation ambassadors as part of ADEC’s eight innovation initiatives to select innovators from across top-end industries in Abu Dhabi were assigned to a specific school within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to engage with students and spread awareness of science related topics/projects. Each innovation ambassador was required to give a presentation to students and ensure full engagement in fun-loving and competitive STEM related workshops and projects.

In efforts to boost challenging and fun-loving initiatives amongst students, ADEC launched the UAE National Pride Scratch Contest for students, offering them the opportunity to express their national pride right before the UAE National Day using programming skills. The contest involved a Scratch script by which school students were able to display the country’s cultural values, social unity and economic background. The competition was divided into two categories: one amongst Grades 5 to 8, and the other amongst Grades 9 to 12. Some of the samples of the project include the UAE flag symbol, the UAE culture, the UAE economics achievements, the UAE’s society unity, the UAE’s leadership wisdom and the UAE values. Deadline for submitting the projects is Thursday 26th November 2015.

Furthermore, ADEC has established 255 innovation clubs across all public schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi which are all due to open by 2016/17, while encouraging private schools to enhance their existing innovation centers in line with 21st century STEM requirements.

“In line with promoting the development and use of innovation skills, ADEC has encouraged all schools to actively engage in celebrating innovation week. Innovation is based on curiosity, the willingness to take risks and experiment to test assumptions. Therefore, encouraging all students to imagine, create, problem solve and think critically should be an ongoing practice. It is there time to question and challenge a great idea and put it into practice. Through ADEC’s ongoing partnership with schools, parents, industries and the community at large, we are confident that our youth are on the right track,” affirmed Mr. Mohamed Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of school operations at ADEC.

Both private and public schools across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi were encouraged to put up whole school displays in order to promote innovative activities in classrooms. Schools also conducted their own innovation projects and challenges, while dedicating an hour each day to conduct their own innovative research projects, with the help of exchanging ideas amongst other schools that have developed their own innovation clubs too. Whole school challenges were implemented across schools where solutions within a set time-frame were developed (e.g. 30 minutes innovation challenge).

Other different school activities included: recognizing inventions created by students; visiting innovative industries to gather ideas; Cycle 3/high school students developed business plans for products they were interested in improving and commercializing; inviting parents to take part in joint projects and suggestions, while encouraging parents and guest speakers to demonstrate their experience in the area of innovation.

“It is critical that schools embody a shared vision and purpose to understand the importance of promoting innovation. We were delighted to witness new creative ideas and approaches as part of the UAE Vision 2021 to be among the most innovative nations in the world. School leaders, teachers, industry leaders and students were highly engaged and entertained this past week, a successful end-result that we aspire will continue throughout the year,” concluded Mr. Al Dhaheri.

Innovation Week initially took place after ADEC sent mass circulars with suggestions and ideas for Innovation Week to all public and private schools across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with emphasis on announcing the initiative during the schools morning assembly last week.