Mentoring the Next Generation of Inventors

Three teachers tell us how they helped to put their students on the path to success at the Global Innovation Challenge

The Global Innovation Challenge (GIC), run by GEMS Education, invites GEMS students from around the world to submit ideas that will leverage exponential technologies. The GIC is one of the world’s largest youth engagement programmes for innovation and entrepreneurship, engaging 60,000 students and 100 organisations.

Each student or team was supported and mentored by a teacher at their school. These mentors were a constant pillar of guidance throughout the 10-month journey from October 2018, when the GIC launched, to August 2019 when the three winning teams presented their ideas at the Singularity University Global Summit in California. These GEMS teams were the only school exhibitors to present at the summit.

Binu Nair, Computer Science Teacher
Innovation Leader
GEMS Millennium School (GMS)

At GMS, the enthusiasm and conviction to excel is evident in all the students. We participate in competitions such as the Global Innovation Challenge (GIC), Year of Zayed, DIDI, FLL, 3D Printing competition, RIT and many inter-school competitions organised within and outside GEMS. Our GIC teams are selected and filtered through an in-house STEAM exhibition called iNNOVISTA, where students showcase skills in ideating, designing, prototyping and pitching.

Our senior team Smart Bandages won the GIC competition and got to present their prototype in California. Mentoring and working with these students was a learning experience for me as well. Every session and boot camp was organised by Mr. Karan Deep of GEMS X and the guidance that we got from our Principal Ms. Teresa Varman and CIDO Ms. Hajarah Hamdani helped us reach the next level of prototyping and pitching. While competing at the GIC level our students started to learn by trial and error. They came up with solutions and learned that nothing succeeds like cooperation and collaboration.

The GIC is an amazing platform that helps students to foster a positive mindset and assists them to grow and develop innovative ideas. I expect that this exposure to design and innovation will help them to develop entrepreneurial skills, logical skills and problem-solving skills, as well as develop leadership qualities and time management abilities. I make sure that my students nurture the feeling that they are talented and have unfailing courage to deal with challenges. Regular feedback and guidance works wonders to positively sharpen their ideas.

Different strategies are adopted to suit different age groups and varied learners. My responsibility as a teacher has always been to help them stay motivated and focused. In future, they will acknowledge that designing a solution can provide a tremendous sense of achievement – particularly when it contributes positively towards building a better society.

Masha Nazeem
Innovation Lead, TEDx Speaker
GEMS New Millennium School (NMS)

One of the USPs at NMS is the richness in our curriculum, which is underpinned by innovation. Genius Hour is one educational tool used to develop creativity and inventiveness. We have constructed this hour on four skills – critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. During these classes, our students explore learning with technologies like Minecraft, TinkerCAD, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and more.

Students at NMS have been celebrating science week every year which culminates with the INNOFEST, a hi-tech Science Exhibition. INNOFEST is an extravaganza of creativity and innovation. Students from KG1 to Grade 12 present their projects to address various societal issues. Grade 9 students engage in a bespoke programme offered by Singularity University – Global Future Curriculum (GFC) and every week they work and learn about exponential technologies, rapid prototyping, design thinking and user research to find solutions to 17 global sustainable goals.

Our students’ participation in the GIC has shown great progress. Last year, 23 teams participated. NMS bagged three people’s choice awards and one jury award and it was a great honour to see our team SHERO girls emerge as winners. The ripple effects of mentoring sessions by GEMS X were visible in their presentations at the Global Summit in San Francisco. The journey of innovation is making a difference in learning experiences at NMS.

Noorulayin Shainsha
Computer Science Teacher
Innovation Leader
Head of Department, Our Own English High School, Boys-Sharjah (OOB)

I joined OOB in 2010 under the leadership of Mr. Srivalsan Murugan, Principal and CEO. I work with great fervor to trigger passion and enthusiasm in the young minds of my students to enhance their skills
on mobile applications, which is not part of the curriculum. I started an Innovation Club with just 20 enrolments. The membership has since increased by leaps and bounds, starting from Grade 7. The Club focuses on developing two skills – outside-the-box thinking and core programming.

Since 2015, we have won first and third prizes (AED5,000 for each) at the GEMS Mashreq Challenge, followed by other competition wins at both school and university levels. Other events where our teams have been recognised include the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics competition by Ministry of Education (MOE), Hackathon by MOE, Hackathon by Ajman University and the Global Innovation Challenge (GIC) 2017 and 2019.

Our win at this year’s GIC was with our student team Alivean for their all powered visual aid (glass plus an open source software) for the visually impaired. This aid leverages machine-learning to identify and relay emotions, identify personal objects and offer indoor navigation mapping. Further to this win, the finalist from our school received an internship by Liv ENBD group at this year’s GEMS-ENBD Challenge for their innovative ideas. The journey towards excellence never ends.