Saudi team competes in world’s largest pre-college science fair

The team is taking part in research projects in the fields of energy, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, viruses, environmental security, aquaculture and desert farming

  
Students wearing protective face masks attend a class at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School, as schools reopen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore June 2, 2020. Image for illustrative purposes.

Students wearing protective face masks attend a class at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School, as schools reopen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore June 2, 2020. Image for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Edgar Su
 
JEDDAH: Some of Saudi Arabia’s most talented students are taking part in one of the world’s biggest scientific competitions, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF 2021).


Backed in the remotely held US-based competition by the King Abdul Aziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), 30 Saudi students are competing alongside 1,800 others from more than 75 countries.

To prepare and hone their skills ahead of the competition, the Saudi students took part in a training camp in Riyadh, where they are now competing in the event, which ends on Thursday.

The team is taking part in research projects in the fields of energy, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, viruses, environmental security, aquaculture and desert farming.

Several students previously took part in the 11th National Olympics for Scientific Creativity, one of 19 different programs provided by Mawhiba each year to talented students across the Kingdom.

Training was delivered by a selection of Saudi and US experts from various disciplines.

The six-day camp included a training workshop on delivery skills in partnership with the Al-Elqa Training Center in Riyadh, to prepare members of the Saudi team for ISEF 2021 and hone their presentation abilities.

During ISEF 2021, the Saudi students are presenting their scientific projects to members of a jury committee for judging.

Members of the scientific committee and jury hold a series of individual interviews with students to review and provide scientific support to projects.

Within the Saudi student group, 21 male and nine female students went through training before reaching the competition.

They were selected as part of a larger group from 51,000 students across the Kingdom after their work was reviewed. About 150 of the students then took part in the Ibdaa 2021 fair. The 35 winners were honored by Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal last March, after which the top 30 projects were selected to represent the Kingdom at ISEF.

Saudi Arabia, represented by Mawhiba, is taking part in ISEF 2021 as a major sponsor and will also present a special award for the best projects involved in the field of energy. It is the 15th year in a row that outstanding Saudi students are taking part in the international science fair.

Saudi students have so far won a total of 48 grand prizes and 27 special prizes in the competition. These included eight awards in 2020, including five grand prizes and three special prizes. Mawhiba also provides special international awards in the competition. So far, 79 prizes have been awarded by Mawhiba to 97 students from 20 countries. ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science fair, first taking place in 1950.

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