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Citizen Science motivates students to be future scientists, innovators
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 08 - 05 - 2016

Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), emphasized the importance of enabling students to acquire 21st century skills as well as enhancing their research, problem solving, creative thinking and analytical skills. "The world is experiencing profound and accelerated change across a number of dimensions.
The historical concepts of STEM are being redefined due to scientific breakthroughs, rapidly emerging technologies and attitudinal preferences of our youth, which is exactly why STEM education and learning must respond accordingly."
During his opening speech at a recent event in Abu Dhabi for the unveiling of Citizen Science, a digital platform developed by Tribal Planet, he said "never before has the prioritization of STEM learning at an early stage of our children's education been more important to our world like now. Through our nations post oil vision, there is nowhere in the world that recognizes the importance of STEM more than the UAE, which is exactly why efforts continue to be exerted amongst individuals with potential to innovate and create as already evident across our classrooms, where students are being continuously kept connected to knowledge, each other, their environment and scientific research facilities."
Citizen Science is a mobile platform that enables STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning outside of the classroom, demonstrating the power of science through experimentation and play on a mobile device. It may also be used by teachers to enhance classroom learning of science, by using the inbuilt functionality and scientific instrumentation that turns the mobile phone into a science laboratory in your pocket.
It aims to "encourage passion for science among our youth and create a pipeline of millions of scientists and innovators for the future."
ADEC, in collaboration with EY and Tribal Planet, hosted a Digital Innovation in Education event at the Mubarak bin Mohammed School in Abu Dhabi, to unveil the Citizen Science platform.
Citizen Science encourages young people of all ages to participate by completing experiments and challenges that are developed in collaboration with some of the world's leading scientific institutions and global thought leaders. Relationships with private sector companies, music, entertainment and sports celebrities have been developed in association with the platform, which will provide a localized opportunity for sustained engagement with young people, who can earn reward points for participating.
These rewards include exclusive access to music, sports and entertainment, and ultimately, scholarships and internships, allowing private and public enterprises alike to engage with users.
In March this year, a group of Emirati school children from Abu Dhabi were the first in the world to experience the Citizen Science platform, which has the objective of being available to 500 million children around the globe over the next 5 years.
Dr. Al Nuaimi further added that Citizen Science is closely aligned to ADEC's vision for innovation and the development of a knowledge based hub. "Encouraging kids to use Citizen Science outside of the classroom will directly have an impact on grades and a better understanding of STEM. Further, teachers can use the platform as an additional tool to teach science in a fun-loving attractive and interactive manner."
Stephen Farrell, Senior Partner, EY, said: "The Citizen Science platform is primarily about youth development, which is incredibly important for children's advancement through their education and careers, but also in ensuring they find a productive and valuable place in wider society. STEM subjects are skills that fuel the growth and advancement of modern societies. These skills can also teach children critical thinking, pragmatism, the value of research, and knowledge acquisition. Delivering these kind of skills via a mobile platform will link today's children to potential employers and important scientific research, connecting them with scientists that are changing the world we live in."
Jeff Martin, Founder and CEO of Tribal Planet said: "We believe that science is the greatest equalizer for human kind. Citizen Science provides the platform that inspires youth through the power of science. By engaging young people around the world to explore and collaborate with each other, connect with their environment, and with the global scientific community, we're helping them prepare for their future, and preparing future leaders to innovate and solve the greatest problems our planet will face over the next 50 years. We're honored that EY, ADEC and other leading organizations and global visionaries in education, sports and entertainment are collaborating with Citizen Science, recognizing the importance of STEM education."
The full functionality platform will be launched later this year, encouraging young people to participate in STEM challenges, experiments and crowd-sourcing of science data both inside and outside of the classroom. – SG

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