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Outreach efforts spark students' curiosity in math and science

Published Apr 01, 2015

Texas A&M University at Qatar and Maersk Oil Qatar have launched a strategic initiative to excite young Qataris about studying mathematics and science to prepare them for careers in Qatar’s knowledge-based economy.

The Young Engineers and Scientists program, sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar, targets Qatari students in grades 5 and 6 and provides enrichment programs through which students learn about science while solving engineering design challenges, said Dr. Hamid Parsaei, director of academic outreach at Texas A&M at Qatar.

“Research indicates that we must begin working with students at younger ages to stimulate their interest in science, math and engineering,” Parsaei said. “Through our partnership with Maersk Oil Qatar, we are engaging some of our best faculty and lab staff to reach out to young Qataris in an effort to spark their curiosity.”

Parsaei said a trial of the program in November 2014 was successful, and teachers reported that their students enjoyed and learned from the experiments they conducted. In March, Texas A&M at Qatar hosted more than 130 Qatari students from nine schools across Qatar, and additional programs scheduled for the next two months will bring the total to more than 400 Qatari students.

Sheikh Faisal bin Fahad Al-Thani, deputy managing director of Maersk Oil Qatar, said the company recognizes the significance of nurturing and developing interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are known as STEM disciplines.

“Through initiatives such as this, we are working to attract and inspire the next generation to follow a technical educational track that can lead to successful and rewarding careers in industries like oil and gas,” Sheikh Faisal said. “And this program’s unique format means that the students gain experience in a broad range of engineering disciplines in a fun and practical way, helping them to develop new knowledge and skills that will inspire a lifetime’s passion for the sciences.”

The one-day programs were organized and led by Dr. Mazen Saghir, associate professor of electrical engineering, and Benjamin Cieslinski, science laboratory manager. Students worked on two experiments on magnets and solar heating.

“We were delighted to host students from Qatar's elementary schools, especially those who joined us from schools outside Doha,” Saghir said. “The students showed a great capacity to learn new material quickly. Investing in STEM education at such a young age will ensure that Qatar will be well prepared to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.”

Parsaei said the Young Engineers and Scientists program will help put young Qataris on educational pathways for science, technology, engineering and math, and that will enhance future efforts to develop those students.

“Our partnership with Maersk Oil Qatar provides comprehensive outreach efforts for Qatari students from grade 5 through university,” Parsaei said. “We are working together to pursue human development that will provide valuable expertise for Qatar’s growth and prosperity.”