The Al Nashia Scheme in Oman was organised as part of the National Youth Programme for Skills Development, sponsored by the Sultanate and organised by a diverse committee together with the Diwan.
The programme partnered with the German University in Oman to host the event and invited three educational experience facilitators to lead the activities, including SEE CEO Aga Gajownik.
Lego, one of the main partners of the program, first got the students engaged with building technology – robots that is – and programming them. Next, Firetech provided students with a handle of Digital Media: blogging, visual storytelling, video production and editing, digital citizenship and even branding.
After an amazing week of building with Lego, documenting their exciting experiences through blog posts and video journals, as well as making lifelong friends from all over the country, the students delved deeper into technology with Arduino Uno. The microcontroller board provided a safe environment for students to learn about circuits, sensors and electricity, all while having fun. Both parts were delivered by Firetech tutors with their trademark excitement, charisma and passion for tech.
The students enjoyed it so much that we had to ensure they took breaks to rest and not burn out. The tension and energy in this event was palpable, and it pushed them to learn as much as they could to develop their thinking and creativity.
After two long, intensive weeks, tutors and students were all kinds of tired. The passion was of course still there, but it seemed like everybody could have used a little push to end on a high note. On the last day of the programme, Aga came.
Two themes were announced, environment: make the world more sustainable, more vibrant and full of life – and wellbeing: make people so.
There was a striking difference between the moment when the students walked in, sleepy and groggy, and the moment when Aga said “You have 24 hours. Go!”. The room was buzzing. In every corner, people were talking, brainstorming, joining teams or asking questions. I’ve seen hackathons before, but seeing this after 2 weeks of having such an intensity of work, study and play – I was hyped. We all were.
For most hackathons, it’s usually just a bunch of random people with potentially similar interests coming together to create something. To put ideas together into something useful and/or marketable. They’re fun, intense and often rather easy to get lost in between surfing through their thoughts and putting them down into a concrete form.
This hackathon was different though. This hackathon model was structured in a way that people knew what to do, when to do it and what to focus on. They could spend time exploring and finding the best idea within each task section, as long as they did it by the deadline. Then they could move on to the next task.
Every team had a tutor guiding them through the process, asking the right questions and making sure they stayed on track, without stepping in and helping them with their project. It was all organised in hour-long sprints and by the end of it all, everyone had their problem statements, solutions, prototypes and pitches.
By the time the judges entered the room, we had gloves that translate sign language, wellness and mental health wristbands, automated recycling bins – and the list goes on. Each of the teams of up to eight students aged fifteen to seventeen years old delivered a financial analysis of their project, a market plan, prototype, as well as an elevator pitch and a poster.
The kids were filled with joy and the judges tried to keep themselves from subtly smiling through the process. It all ended with a crowd wave and a couple of cheek tiring hours of smiles.
The students were remarkably different from day one. They became more comfortable with people as well as with technology. They opened a channel that allowed them to pour thoughts into actions with more ease. Because that is what SEE does – we are not teachers, but rather facilitators in which learning transforms from a strenuous, emotionally draining process to a beautiful experience of discovery, play and understanding.
Learning is a bumpy process – but with excitement, courage and the right people supporting us, we understand and experience the world. To a brighter future!
Checkout the event highlights below!