Fatna Botan, 18, from Somalia, works on her team’s robot surrounded by her teammates at the World Robotics Olympiad in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Alex Westcott/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Excitement, stress, and creativity filled a hall of school students as they competed to be recognised during the World Robot Olympiad (WRO) 2011, hosted in the capital.

The annual global event allows students to create robots with Lego Mindstorms took place in Manila last year, South Korea in 2009, and was initially held in Singapore in 2004.

The Abu Dhabi based event ‘Robots for Improvement' kicked off yesterday, bringing together 1,500 private and public school students from across the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt.

There were three categories — the regular category where teams had to assemble robots that can solve a specific problem; the open category, where teams must present designs for robots based on a given theme; and the new category from the 2011 WRO, football.

The one-day competition was conducted among three age groups: elementary school, junior high school and senior school.

In addition to the official WRO categories, two special exhibitions were part of the WRO competition — The Green City Exhibition and the post-secondary open exhibition.

"The WRO 2011 comes in preparation for the World Olympiad which Abu Dhabi is hosting in November, where there will be world wide participation arriving from various parts of the world. Today's event helps identify who is fit to compete in November's Olympiad," said Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, Director General at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), inaugurators to the first Arab WRO.

Problem solving

He added: "Building a knowledge-based economy requires skills among human beings. That's why we encourage students to take part in problem solving, creativity and team work, since through collaborative effort, students can brainstorm and share their points of view. We want to get away from the traditional way of education, which is memorisation."

Statistics

  • 1,500 students participating from the UAE and seven other Arab countries
  • 1,000 students participating from the UAE
  • 18 teams from across the Arab world
  • 51 teams from Ajman, RAK, Um Al Quwain, and Fujairah
  • 250 teams from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi
  • 70 teams from private schools
  • 180 teams from public schools
  • 3 students and one coach on each team

— Kerry Baily, Special advisor, school operations from Adec