About the Project
This project is one of the 2017 WISE Awards finalists.
Shams Generation (shams is Arabic for sun) is an innovative hands-on educational initiative that was developed by Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), in collaboration with Qatar Museums, as an interactive learning program that combines art, science and creative reusing of materials to produce ‘Solar Art’. The initiative draws upon the students’ various academic skills to encourage learning through a hands-on approach. Along with enhancing students’ academic skills, Shams Generation develops teamwork, critical thinking, design, innovation, and social engagement skills that foster lifelong learning.
The Shams Generation program is based on three levels of solar education, from primary level to university. Each level consists of a specially designed solar kit, classroom curriculum, a teacher training workshop, implementation and exhibition and online support. Shams Generation has developed a range of workshops for teachers that have been designed by professional educators, to provide them with the skills they need to instruct the students in how to use the solar learning kits. Teachers then work with their students using the solar kits and reused materials to design and build solar art projects that are in line with their age, learning ability and independence. The solar art work produced by the students is then exhibited in each of their schools and then the best works are shown collectively at a major exhibition that is open for the public.
Context and Issue
With oil and natural gas long established as the primary resources to meet the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s electricity requirements, solar energy has only recently gained some momentum in this part of the world.Therefore, the general publics’ knowledge of solar energy is very low. Shams Generation was established by QSTec to address this knowledge gap, encourage the use of solar energy and solar applications and encourage students to consider a career in the growing solar industry.
Solution and Impact
The Shams Generation initiative is built on a multidisciplinary hands-on approach to learning by combining art, science and sustainability. Students are provided with Shams Generation solar kits that are used to build and design solar powered art using reused materials (used cans, cereal boxes, shoe boxes and other items from their household that would have ended up in the trash).
School teachers are a central element to the initiative. The Shams Generation team works with teachers in workshops to introduce the initiative and provide them with resources to use the kits effectively and provide information on how to deliver the program to their classes. This teacher training program is delivered by a trained education professional who offers ongoing teaching support. Additionally, both teachers and students have access to online teaching and learning resources through the Shams Generation website. Shams Generation has also created multiple synergies with local organization to support the program. These organizations provide non-monetary support including public exhibition spaces, media contacts and promotion, workshop space and exhibition assistants.
The pilot phase was developed with just five schools to enable QSTec to assess, refine and improve the Shams Generation initiative with the invaluable teacher feedback provided from the participating schools. With this teacher feedback, QSTec in the second edition of Shams Generation expanded to 20 schools and one university and in the third edition it expanded to 25 schools and two universities. By the end of July 2017 the initiative expects to reach over 10,000 students using the Shams Generation solar learning kits both within schools and through the numerous special public event workshops that Shams Generation conducted. Since Shams Generation’s inception it is estimated that the program has positively impacted well over 16,000 people within the community.
Shams Generation increases the awareness of solar energy and technologies within the community, which in turn encourages the development of the region’s solar industry which is good for the environment, energy diversification and QSTec. The program develops and nurtures future potential solar engineers, solar artists, and entrepreneurs to address the MENA regions high growth forecasts for solar energy and the lack of skilled solar professionals to meet demand. Shams Generation aims to make learning about solar energy and sustainability a key component of education for every primary and high school student in Qatar and then expand across the region.