The Winning Idea at the Dubai STEM Olympiad

Mustafa Khan, Grade 9, winner at Dubai STEM Olympiad

Congratulations to Neha Adusumill (grade 5), Isaac Thekkumuriel (grade 4) and Mustafa Khan (grade 9) for reaching the final stage of this year’s Dubai STEM Olympiad.

STEM engages students around the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Students apply their knowledge and skills whilst solving investigative based inquiries. The thematic approach to learning develops innovators in an ever-evolving world. With Expo 2020 in sight, we are certain that our creative thinkers will continue to make use of their talents whilst solving problems in the future.

Over the course of months, 4000 participants were narrowed down to 75 participants divided into 15 teams. On Friday April 21st,  our Greenfield Community School finalists made their way down to the Hub Zero to showcase their talents and compete in the final round where they were asked to design a prototype of something to entertain space travelers on a mission to Mars.

Once they had designed and prototyped their solution they then set out to explain the concept of their invention to a panel of judges.

With lots of imaginative thinking on show, it was interesting to see how our students would fare and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Our primary students wowed the audience with their unique modes of transport and received an award to recognize their creative thinking.

Mr. Burden, Grade 3 Teacher, pictured with Mustafa

Our grade 9 student Mustafa, along with his 5 person team, made a real impact and his ability to connect with the judges resulted in them winning the overall competition!

Maloy Burman of Premier Genie, the event organizer, had this to say of Mustafa and his team, “Their presentation stood out. Their idea was innovative and followed our instructions, they ended up creating something relevant with a great prototype.”

This is the first-time GCS has taken part in a STEM based competition and we are hopeful that we will build on in the years ahead.

We sat down with Mustafa, Grade 9, to talk about his experience competing in the STEM Olympiad. 

1. What was the event you participated in and how did you prepare for it?

It was the Dubai STEM Olympiad, the first year they were doing it and it was put on by Premier Genie. STEM refers to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. In this competition they are basically creating assessments/projects that are related to these topics. Each round has a little bit of everything related to science.

The competition is in three phases. The first phase started in Term 1 and the three different parts were broken up throughout the academic year. I had to pass the first two to get to the final which was held on Friday.

The first and second were theory based rounds with science and math questions that were higher level. So you had to go through them, understand them, and pass them. With the help of my teachers here (GCS) I was able to grasp the concepts and pass the first and second round.

The final, third round, we had to practically apply our knowledge. The problem they gave us was this: if you were going to mars, the trip is a very long one so how would you make the trip slightly more interesting? When astronauts are sent to space they are given all the basics they need to survive, however they don’t take into account entertainment. Our task was to create a product that would cater to this need. So we were divided into groups of five students. My group created a design of a super computer with a holographic interphase that was shaped like a cube which was very portable. Using the tools that they supplied us with we created a prototype. It was a timed exercise starting early in the morning and lasting from 3-4 hours.

At the STEM Olympiad

2. How was it working with your team members? How did you feel about working with students from other schools?

I’ve always found it easy to interact with people, I didn’t see it as a barrier and we got along really well. It was a diverse group of different ages, from different curriculums but we were able to relate well with each other.

3. As a result of doing this event are you looking at pursuing a career in STEM? What is your favourite field of study?

Personally I am interested in robotics, so if I were to choice a course it would be related to mechatronics and robotics. One day I hope to work at actually programing and making robots.

4. What skills from the IB philosophy did you use in this competition?

First being a risk taker because you are going outside of your comfort zone and interacting with people. That’s where being a communicator comes in. Being open-minded comes in as well because you have to listen to everyone’s opinions and ideas to come up with the best concept. At the end of it we had to be reflective because there are always areas to improve. For example, I personally believe delegating tasks between each and every member was an area we could have improved on. Some of the members didn’t have enough time and we could’ve coordinated that better.

5. Do you have any advice for a student who is interested in STEM?

In terms of robotics, there are two paths that one could take, either approaching it from the theory side and then actually going hands on. Or the opposite, actually creating things and then going towards the theory. I’m kind of in a mix, I’ve been learning the theory side of things and then got the opportunity to do something hands on.  If you get the chance to do something hands on then definitely take it. It really helps you.

6. Did you think you were going to win?

Well I expected the worst and hoped for the best! During the award ceremony they announced the teams from the lowest ranking to the highest. In the back of our minds, we hoped to win but we decided to lower our expectations because we didn’t want to leave feeling disappointed. But obviously when we won it was our time to celebrate! At the end my teammates and I exchanged contact details.  They are people who have the same interest as me and pursuing the same field as me and it’s really interesting to meet up with people like them.

7. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

I would love to thank my science teacher Ms Nadeem she basically supported me from the start. She has been finding ways to give me resources to help me practice. She introduced me to the lab technician, Mr Umair, who gave me some classes on circuit boards and how to use them. Also, Mr. Burden (Primary Science Teacher) who came to the final round and came to the examinations. Ms. Farin, (Head of Student Support) also worked with Ms. Nadeem to help me learn the topics at hand that were required to get past each round. So thank you to all of them!

Mustafa with his science teacher, Ms. Tahra Nadeem

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