Shahd Abdulla, a tenth-grader at QAST, talks about how the academy nurtures the growth of students from a holistic approach
Learning is an exciting journey of exploring the world, as well as, an ongoing process of self-discovery. It starts at a very young age and goes on for life. And for Shahd Abdulla, this journey took a turning point that opened new doors for her, and still brings her one step closer, every day, to the person she aspires to be.
When I shifted my schooling to QAST, I began to see how different this school was
According to the Qatari Grade 10 student, this turning point occurred when she joined Qatar Academy for Science and Technology (QAST) only a year and a half ago. Yet, her journey at the Qatar Foundation school has already transformed her life on an academic as well as personal level.
“When I shifted my schooling to QAST, I began to see how different this school was. From my first day, I began testing and creating new things; classes are not limited to one area of the school – we moved a lot between the innovation center to the gym and to the science department. There was something to learn everywhere, which made school days fun and productive,” Abdulla said.
“In the academy, we have CRISP and Advisory – the two classes I’ve seen in QAST only. In CRISP, we innovate and create, while in Advisory, we learn about college preparation, track our progress, research majors, learn social and presentation skills, and identify careers. Both of which help us set our own goals and learn more about ourselves,” she added.
CRISP is a cyclical process of Challenge, Research, Investigate, Synthesize and Prototype which Qatar Academy for Science and Technology – a school under Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education – use on a weekly basis. It helps students develop problem-solving skills through engaging students in real-life scenarios, with special focus on Qatar’s Grand Challenges, allowing students to interact and learn from local experts and researchers.
Emotionally, we get to learn more about ourselves. This help us decide what we want to study in the future
Academic, social and emotional progress
According to Shahd Abdulla, QAST adopts a holistic educational experience which nurtures students on academic, social and emotional levels.
She says: “Academically, the school culture believes in mastery grading, which is giving students the chance to repeat a test or an exam as long as they need to, until they are successful.
“Socially, the school works really hard to provide us with opportunities that connect us with the outside world, and prepares us for college. They also train us on public speaking and developing the skills to present in front of an audience.
“Emotionally, we get to learn more about ourselves. This help us decide what we want to study in the future, especially in Advisory, where we have amazing mentors that help guide us to the goal we are trying to reach.”
Opening doors and providing opportunities
For Qatar Academy for Science and Technology, empowering students to become innovators who use knowledge to create solutions is a mission which the school seeks to accomplish for each of its students. And providing practical opportunities for students is key for such empowerment.
During my 18-month study at QAST, I had many experiences and was involved in so many projects that I’m proud of today
“During my 18-month study at QAST, I had many experiences and was involved in so many projects that I’m proud of today. I was given the opportunity to give a speech on women empowerment at the World Innovation Summit for Education – a topic I’m particularly interested in. I had the chance to meet and speak with women who are role models to me. Also, my teammates and I won third place at a science competition organized by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. We had participated and won in a debate competition organized by QatarDebate and the Ministry.
Abdulla also participated in science projects where she developed a gaming code; worked on robotics in Texas A&M University at Qatar; built an atlatl – an ancient weapon which is essentially a throwing device using a spear; and created a water filtration system. In addition to these, she was also assigned to create a product that could help find solutions to COVID-19 related challenges.
“We also got to speak with experts about research topics we chose – mine was about the role of Artificial Intelligence in medicine. I got to do practical experiments in labs, and learned a lot about the different majors in science.”
Shahd Abdulla’s mother believes that the supportive approach and the mastery grading systems at QAST helps students develop their skills and grow their personalities.
“Observing Shahd’s growing interest from a young age in the field of medical surgery and her dream to become a specialized surgeon for cancer patients, made me keen on admitting her in the right place. And that’s when I decided to shift her to a school which can harness her interest in science and help her achieve her dream.
Abdulla’s mother narrated a recent incident where her daughter and her classmates dissected a sheep’s heart. “It was a very exciting experience for her and the first practical lesson in the field she is most passionate about.”