The iMatter program is empowering students like Leen Mohamad Mayed, Amir Mohammed Yousef and Jana Samir Sallam to create tools and help raise awareness about the environment Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal

Amir Mohammed Yousef

Sharjah student Amir Mohammed Yousef’s iMatter STEM Education project – a campaign titled ‘Seal and Clean’ – involved saving energy, specifically raising awareness on the proper use of air-conditioners. "There are multiple ways by which we can reduce energy consumption; I’d like to share two," says the grade 7 student at National Charity School Sharjah for Boys.

Tip #1: Ensure insulation of doors and windows in your building is good. Hire a technician to seal leaks so the AC will work well. Over time, the money you save on your electricity bill will be much less compared to the fees paid to insulate the building.

Tip #2: Clean AC filters once a month. This can save up to 6 per cent energy use.

When did you become interested in energy-saving initiatives?

I participated in the iMatter STEM Education program brought to my school this year by Taqeef. In the program we learned about technologies and inventions, some of which we even use daily such as voice recognition, finger-print reader, facial-recognition and maps on our smart phones. We learnt about sustainable energy, global warming and climate change. This topic resonated strongly with me and I realised we could play a role in saving the planet.

Amir’s project is built around the belief that small individual actions can collectively deliver big results for the community and the environment Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal

Why these two tips in specific?

It is easier for people to remember two points than a long list. These two points – of keeping any gaps sealed and cleaning filters regularly – are small actions that are usually overlooked but can have a huge impact. From the iMatter program I learnt that Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy of 2050 is part of an agenda to reduce energy consumption.

Why did you choose ACs specifically?

While researching the topic, I learned that ACs and cooling elements consume 70 per cent of the UAE’s electricity. This means cooling makes up the biggest chunk of electricity bills. This made me explore the topic further.

How do you plan to take this forward?

I would like my "small actions, big results" campaign to reach as many people as possible to create a big impact and protect our environment. I’d also like to encourage students to participate in saving energy.

Who supported you?

The mentors of the iMatter program and my school. I thank Taqeef for giving us this opportunity to learn about advancing technologies and present our ideas.

What does the iMatter program mean to you?

The program introduced me to the world of STEM and the influence it has on today’s world and the next era. It helped me develop my idea and create a campaign that sheds light on a major problem.

What do you wish to be in the future?

I’ve always been interested in a career in engineering. This program helped me see that engineering will continue to be one of the key careers of the future.

Jana Samir Sallam

Thirteen-year-old Jana Samir Sallam’s iMatter STEM program idea is an app called Parking Master that will help a motorist find parking spots easily. Connected to sensors placed in parking lots, the app can alert drivers via GPS of available parking spaces. The app could be connected to the RTA paid parking system to indicate cars that are due to leave a parking space within the next 10 minutes. Jana is a grade 7 student at National Charity School, Ajman for Girls.

How did you get this idea?

The Parking Master App came about after a situation I faced with my family. We wanted to visit a place in Dubai but once there we couldn’t find a free parking space. After spending a lot of time searching, we gave up and went elsewhere. While it frustrated me, it also left me thinking what if someone had a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting to attend but couldn’t find a place to park.

Are you learning coding?

I’ve always been intrigued by programming and app development. I want to learn more about these and pursue a STEM career.

When did you become interested in STEM subjects?

About two years ago, I started watching videos on STEM programs and began understanding more about the role of it in life. This made me very interested in the field of technology and engineering. So, when the iMatter STEM program was brought to my school by Taqeef, I was keen to take part in the challenge this year.

Jana’s app is trying to help solve a problem that millions of people face daily Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal

Tell us how you developed the idea for the app?

Prior to designing my application, I had to have a complete 360-degree overview of my product. I prefer organising all my ideas first on a paper. Putting down your thoughts and ideas on paper is the best way to declutter and organise your thoughts. To create the app, I’m going to use a program called "App Inventor". I will test the app for any gaps, fix them and then launch it.

What stage is your product in now?

Currently my invention is still in the idea stage. The iMatter Innovation Challenge involved coming up with an idea that used STEM technology that would benefit the world. My idea, the Parking Master application ranked fifth in final competition. In the future, I would love to explore developing this application for people to use.

Will it be available commercially?

Absolutely! It would be a dream come true if my app is a part of Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) app, and solve a problem that millions of people face daily. I hope my invention can also be an inspiration for other teens to think creatively of what they can do to make the world a better place and explore the world of STEM.

Have you created other such products before?

Yes, I have created two other apps, the first was coding a calculator to help students in mathematics. The second helps people with online trading named "Trade with Alex".

What does the iMatter program mean to you?

Participating in the iMatter STEM program was one of the best experiences I’ve had. It taught me several things about AI, machine learning, nanotechnology and robots and the role they play in today’s world. I enjoyed every stage of the program and I gained a lot of confidence because of the support from the trainers and the Taqeef engineers and staff who coached us.

Leen Mohamad Mayed

Leen Mohamad Mayed, 13, remembers watching her mother taking care of her baby sister and wished that there was a stroller in the market that could do a few more things to make life easier for mums.

That led Leen to design the Smart Baby Stroller, which would have, among other things, a solar-powered rechargeable battery; four surveillance cameras to monitor the child; automatic temperature control to keep the baby comfortable; and sensors to alert if the baby wets himself/herself.

"My hope is that the Smart Stroller will make it easier for busy parents to keep their children safe, comfortable, and happy," says the grade 7 student at National Charity School in Dubai for Girls.

When did you come up with the idea for this product?

I was 12 years old when I saw my mother struggling to take care of my baby sister and do her other chores at the same time. I saw that the stroller couldn’t sufficiently help her in taking care of my little sister like when my mother went shopping with her or when it was too hot outdoors. One day I was watching my mother cleaning the stroller when I thought "Has anyone designed a stroller with extra features to solve these problems?" I started researching and came up with this idea of a "Smart Baby Stroller".

Leen describes the iMatter program as an inspirational journey and looks forward to participate again next year Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal

This was a year before the iMatter STEM Education Program came to my school to encourage us to experience interactive STEM learning.

Through iMatter, I had the chance to develop my idea further and turn that curiosity into a reality. The program helped me to think deeper, do more research, improve my idea, and make it practical to create and to use.

The iMatter innovate challenge encouraged us to think about a "big idea" that used STEM to help create new innovations that would benefit the future. This created a perfect opportunity for me to develop my idea. In the future I would love to develop this idea and bring the product to reality so I can help my mother and others.

What are your interests?

I have been interested in technology and design from a young age, so I already had some knowledge on STEM before joining the iMatter program. Through iMatter, I learned about new technologies I was not aware of before, like AI. This program has elevated my interest in STEM and I’d like to pursue this field and learn more about using them to create new and useful inventions.

When did you become interested in STEM subjects?

I have always been interested in the STEM subjects and the iMatter program brought to us by Taqeef allowed me to understand them better, as well as apply them through challenging us to think creatively and innovate. We also had some mentors from Taqeef and it was inspiring to see real engineers come up with solutions and work alongside us which piqued my interest in pursuing this field.

What was your mother’s reaction after seeing your idea?

My mother liked the idea very much; she called me, "Leen the Inventor".

What does the iMatter program mean to you?

The iMatter Program presented me with the opportunity to develop and present my invention and made me realise I can bring my ideas to life. The iMatter program was an inspirational journey and I really enjoyed it every step of the way and would love to participate in it again next year. I think it’s amazing that companies like Taqeef are creating and funding programs like this which help students like me to develop the skills we need for our future careers.

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