Qatar residents may soon have a variety of useful new apps and fun games to choose from, thanks to students in grades 7-12 who designed them as part of an online STEM programme offered by Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq), a Qatar Foundation partner university.
IDEA: Innovate, Design and Engineer an App was developed and taught by Dr Mohamed Gharib, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) expert at Tamuq. The aim was to teach students the fundamentals of programming and mobile app development in the comfort - and safety - of their own homes.
Ruby Abdeldayim working on her app, Listy!
The participants learned the basics of coding using Java blocks, algorithms and refining their ideas for a working mobile-phone app through weekly online training sessions. They then designed and developed their own apps and presented their ideas to a panel of experts.
"Teaching programming within one of the most used tools in daily life, mobile apps, motivated the students to rapidly achieve the target knowledge and the skills," Gharib said.
Winning apps in the high school category included Zeyad Sorour's sixChat, a user-friendly text app for anyone trying to do a social detox to interact only with their family and close friends. Arham Khalid's App Distrikt has eight applications within it, including information about social services and a diet planner feature that selects food according for each user depending on the user's health reports. Al-Mayasa Al-Obaidli's Home Workout app won third place, with Dear Diary by Haya Al-Kubaisi and Amira Ibrahim's Beauty Tips app placing fourth and fifth.
In the middle school category, Yousef Altoum's Orchestralmental app teaches users how to play musical instruments, including piano, guitar, violin and drums. Each instrument has the settings which the users can choose accordingly and play. Shordon, by Abaan Shanid, allows the users to evaluate themselves on a variety of factors, such as intelligence, health and learning style. Brain STEM by Ralph Hermogenes aims to create interest in programming by guiding the user through the process of coding simple algorithms. Fourth and fifth-place winners Amr Sorour and Shishir Vasisht both designed multi-app applications.
In the primary school category, Ruby Abdeldayim won first place with her app, Listy!, which helps shoppers create and curate shopping lists so they do not forget to buy anything at the store.
Second place went to Erin Kim from Doha College for the all-in-one app, Multi Apps, which has calendar, timer and reminders features, as well as information on coronavirus and a few games. Other honorees in the primary school category were Imaan Ahmed's MyOffice app, Fuad Daloul's Circles Game and Yatin Amand's One Stop Access app.
Participant Aarav Bedi thanked the STEM team for providing a great opportunity for learning in a fun and innovative way. "Your projects were the best way to make someone try out the new tricks and codes they have learned. This is something I will never forget."
Another participant, Gonzalo Pascua, said, "I have learned a lot of new skills, which I will for sure apply in the future because I am thinking of making an app."
Tamuq dean Dr César Octavio Malavé said that IDEA was the first of its kind for students in Qatar to enhance their school learning by participating in an online extracurricular programming challenge.
"Texas A&M at Qatar is a leader in engineering education and in STEM in Qatar," Malavé said. "Teaching and learning goes on, even during this time of social distancing and remote working if Qatar is to maintain its growth and development. These students are future engineering leaders in Qatar and I'm so proud to see the results of the knowledge and skills they have learned through this program. It is my hope that they continue their STEM learning through their school years and into university, hopefully at Texas A&M at Qatar."