Two Emirati students have brought home awards from a regional science competition held in Egypt over the weekend, including the prize for second place overall.
Combined, the two female students won three awards at Intel's Arab World Science Competition in Alexandria, after presenting their projects on recycling and renewable energy.
They competed against 130 students from 11 countries across the Middle East and North Africa.
Student Maryam Al Hashmi from Al Ittihad Private School in Dubai took home the prize for second place overall and first place in environmental engineering for devising a new way to create lighting out of recycled plastic.
Along with partner Marwa Mohamed, the two created a system which uses recycled plastic bottles as a source for lighting and an alternative to electric light.
The product works by cutting up pieces of plastic and covering their surface with "secret” chemicals.
The plastic is then left to absorb sunlight, which Ms Al Hashmi said produced voltage when tested with a volt metre.
The result is a "photocell device” for use in the dark, she said.
"The target of the project is to find a different and diverse way to recycle plastic,” she said.
Competing in Alexandria against other bright minds from the region was very challenging, she said.
"It was really tough and tiring, there were a lot of projects,” she said. "It was stressful because you couldn't tell if you were going to win or do well.”
For her efforts, she was presented a cheque for $2,000, part of $20,000 that was up for grabs.
The second project, presented by Noora Almarri from Dubai National School, devised a new system to produce thermoelectric energy to power homes and buildings, which won first place in the category of physical energy.
During the competition, she presented a model of a house with an air conditioner and electric lights powered by thermoelectric energy — created by harnessing the electricity that she said is created from the difference in temperatures between the inside and outside of a standard home.
Both students were part of a group of 15 Emirati students selected by the Ministry of Education and the Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Foundation to take part in the competition.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Ms Al Hashmi said winning came as a big surprise.
"We all thought there was no hope, we honestly thought that no one would win from the UAE,” she said. "I didn't expect to win anything, that's the truth.”
Other projects presented by Emirati students included a computer screen that uses special eye ware to ensure security, "biomass briquettes” made from banana peels that can be used for cooking, and a system for using magnetic nanoparticles to remove heavy metal ions and pollutants to treat wastewater.
The top prize in Alexandria went to Mohammed Ayman Mohammed from Egypt, who presented a project that aims to isolate lung cancer cells and lead to prevention of the disease.
The Emirati students that participated in Alexandria were nominated after taking part in the UAE's 2015 Think Science national competition — which aims to encourage Emiratis aged 15 to 35 to pursue education and careers in STEM.
Project proposals have been received for the 2016 version of Think Science, which will see teams of three or four members design, develop and build innovations to be displayed during a competition and exhibition fair next April.
Source: The National