Palestinian Students Get Passionate about
Science, Technology, Engineering and mathematics (STEM) clubs
“My passion is technology,” says 14-year-old Layla Khaldi. She was one of 8,000 students learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at a summer activities programme jointly developed by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and UNICEF. With so many students lagging behind in educational benchmarks after the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers saw the need to inspire students and help them advance before the 2022-23 school year.
Layla and her teammate loved the programme, which was developed to help students evaluate problems and use STEM skills to come up with solutions. “It was very inspiring,” says Layla, “because we started planning with our fellow students how to develop our idea. We learned a lot from each other.” A trained STEM mentor helped the students to think critically and implement their ideas.
“I signed up for the programme because I want to develop my skills in science and mathematics,” says 12-year-old Rosa Afaneh. She and the other students pictured here study at Beitunia Girls School. The STEM Club summer programme was planned for 8,000 students grades 7-11 in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “I like this camp because I can express myself and my thoughts and be creative,” says Rosa.
Rosa and fellow eighth-grader Hala Joyous worked together on solving the problem of environmental pollution. They built a model of a bridge that can be used to safely reach animals that have been harmed by unexploded ordinance. In the Gaza Strip, dangerous remnants of war and UXOs have harmed many children, who are curious and pick them up unwittingly. “I have learned the importance of recycling and how to solve environmental problems,” Hala said. “Conservation is one of our priorities.”
To prepare for the STEM Camp, UNICEF trained 450 teachers in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in robotics, programming, and STEM applications and engineering science. The teachers practiced the STEM exercises themselves in a workshop so that they would understand better how to mentor their students. Here teacher Rida Sader attaches a balloon to a vehicle as a method of propulsion. “The importance of the workshop is that the student uses practical methods to understand the theory,” he says. “This is […] deep learning.”
A female teacher connects a robotic unit to a computer at the mentor training workshop. The importance of the educators’ preparation was reflected in the eager participation of the students at Beitunia Girls School’s. “We always do theoretical subjects in school, and this is an opportunity for us to apply what we learned in school in a practical way,” said 13-year-old Sama Daoleh. “I feel here that I can be creative, especially with the mentors’ support.” The STEM Club was supported by Australia, Norway, South Korea, and Education Cannot Wait, in addition to UNICEF regular resources.