The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, in Partnership with the Ministry of Education, has launched a new, transformational educational experience that is unprecedented in the Kingdom.
Designed to popularize the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics among Saudi youth, the Center’s iDiscover program is one of several iThra Youth programs that the Center hopes will have a ripple effect Kingdom-wide. This outreach initiative will be conducted consecutively in five cities: Hayil, Jiddah, Yanbu‘, Jazan and al-Hasa.
iDiscover’s first stop was in Hayil Feb. 16-28, where the local community embraced it passionately.
HRH Prince Saud bin Abdulmohsen Al-Saud, Prince of the Hayil region, honored the closing ceremony of iDiscover in Hayil with his presence and commended the collaboration between Saudi Aramco and the Ministry of Education.
“iDiscover is not just a scientific program; it is culture and creativity,” Prince Saud said.
“iDiscover provided a series of educational and enrichment sessions that shaped thrilling and exciting experiences,” said Educational Affairs deputy general manager Naser Al-Rasheed. “During these experiences, 200 male and female teachers were trained in science and math, and 400 male and female students achieved a total of 120 certified hours of training. The training sessions were designed carefully to balance between the students’ intellectual and emotional capabilities to enrich the future generation.”
“Our generous country is distinguished by its enormous human capital that can be a reason for our society’s development and progress, and that human capital is our youth,” said King Abdulaziz Center manager Fuad Al-Therman.
”Youth constitute two-thirds of the Saudi population, and the best investment for which we can guarantee its unlimited revenue is the investment in our youth’s minds.”
“In iDiscover, two essential skills must be taught to the students: the art of enjoying exploration and persistence to reach the goal regardless of the obstacles,” said Motairah Al-Azmi, a teacher in Hayil and a trainer in the iDiscover program.
iDiscover consists of three training phases: for master trainers, teachers and students.
The iDiscover Master Trainer phase — conducted by professionals from Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California at Berkeley and Math Zoom Academy of Irvine, California — is a two-week long session. Participants at Hayil this year included 32 math and science teachers nominated by the Ministry of Education.
“Conducting the workshops with our partners was educationally enriching to the master trainers, who will transfer their wealth of knowledge in science and math to the assistant teachers and students,” said iDiscover program coordinator Najla Al-Nomair.
The second phase, iDiscover-Teachers, is a five-day training session during which a total of 1,000 local female and male teachers will be intensively trained by the master trainers in each of the five cities. By the end of this phase, a selection process will be conducted to select the top 10 percent of the teachers to assist the master trainers in conducting the program.
The third phase, iDiscover-Students, engages students in science, math and character-building workshops.
“iDiscover is a major educational initiative that will hopefully transform the minds of Saudi youth toward the love of science and math and implant passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields in their hearts,” said iDiscover program champion Albara Al-Auhali.
“iDiscover will increase students’ learning aptitude as well as their self-confidence throughout a series of hands-on activities that magnify students’ role in the learning process,” added Abdullah Al-Eyaf, Communication and Partnership Team leader at iThra Youth.
In addition to the math and science tracks, iDiscover immerses students in diverse enrichment workshops to sharpen their interpersonal communication skills, character skills, problem-solving skills and thinking strategies. Four enrichment tracks are included in iDiscover to complement the experience: photography, arts, leadership skills and design thinking.
“Besides focusing on science, math, and enrichment programs, iDiscover sends many direct and indirect messages through contribution and involvement in the camps such as: the spirit of team work, sustainability and environmental consciousness, prioritizing safety and safe practices, and healthy diet,” said Dhafer Al-Qahtani, Execution and Implementation team leader at iThra Youth.