Disabled kids get a shot at higher education

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World Robot Olympiad in Egypt helps hearing impaired kids get into engineering.

Since Ideas Gym Science Center began organizing WRO in Egypt nine years ago, they have been working with the NGO ASDAA to give hearing impaired children access the WRO tournaments. This year six hearing impaired teams competed at the national WRO final in Egypt. One of the teams will represent Egypt in Hungary at the international final in November.

Ideas Gym and World Robot Olympiad support ASDAA. Marwa Soudi, co-founder of Ideas Gym, says:

"In Egypt, hearing impaired school students usually have no access to universities, in particular engineering universities. But by joining competitions such as WRO, ASDAA has procured scholarships for the hearing impaired winners, giving these students a chance to achieve their dreams of becoming Engineers.”

200 students with a brighter future

The WRO tournaments in Egypt has 20-25 hearing impaired students per year, of which five or six teams make it to the final. That amounts to around 200 students over the past nine years who – through robotics – have increased their chances of getting an engineering degree. Because these kids might have a disability, but they certainly have the brainpower to succeed.

"The hearing impaired teams usually take rank in the national competition. This year they joined the Senior and Open category – and won the latter. The team – Sama, Retag and Omar – will represent Egypt in Hungary in Open this year," says Marwa Soudi.

Educational experience for teachers and students

Ideas Gym was founded by Marwa Soudi and her husband. The center provides educational experience for teachers and students age 8-19 that motivates them to learn skills in STEM fields. To succeed Ideas Gym uses both online/mobile learning and face-to-face learning.  They have several locations and run innovation labs in universities and tech parks. They recently opened in Estonia too, and was selected by the UN innovation lab in Finland as a solution for emerging markets in education.

Right now Ideas Gym is working on a simulation pilot project with 16 students, who have gone into a virtual robotics bootcamp for 14 weeks before they will join a competition. Because of Ideas Gym's work with robotics simulation, countries in Europe – like Finland where Marwa Soudi has just been to train teachers – are looking to Ideas Gym for help on how to teach robotics. 

Ideas Gym has been national World Robot Olympiad organizer in Egypt since 2011. Marwa Soudi says:

“We applied to be national organizer because we saw a lot of potential in how World Robot Olympiad as a competition could reshape the way the students learn robotics. For us WRO is an inspiring experience that we have learnt from – and are still learning from.”