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Story | Research
16 October 2020

TV Review: COVID-19 separates the Stars of Science jury – but a surprise keeps the inventors together


The restrictions imposed by the pandemic could not halt the dreams of Arab innovators in the latest episode of Qatar Foundation`s innovation TV show

The latest group of hopeful innovators on Stars of Science decided to face the COVID-19 pandemic in their own way as they competed in the latest episode of Qatar Foundation`s innovation TV show, working on their projects in a laboratory under strict safety standards. And although the conditions prevented some components from arriving, the inventors demonstrated their ability to adapt to whatever was in their hands and demonstrate their creativity.

In the sixth episode of season 12, judges Professor Fouad Mrad and Professor Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry appear on the program remotely, while fellow jury member Dr. Khalid Al Ali stayed inside the studio, together with Yosouf Al-Salehi, Executive Director of Qatar Science & Technology Park and a former member of the jury, who was this week’s guest.

The participants prepared to stand before the jury after their innovations underwent experiments in the Stars of Science Laboratory. And it seemed that the fact some of the jurors, especially Professor Murad, were outside the studio reduced their anxiety, with the jury members unable to be together as their usual group.

The Stars of Science finalists have been hard at work in the show’s laboratory.

In the prototype-building phase, confrontations began with the Palestinian engineer Jamal Shaktour, who defended his idea of a rescue bag with two masks for ambulances, and the Jordanian inventor Othman Abu Laban, the creator of a project for an automatic head restraint for cars.

In order for Jamal to test his innovation, the laboratory was filled with smoke and the experiment was conducted in cooperation with engineers in the program, with volunteers testing the effectiveness of the mask and its ability to replace inhaled gases with oxygen, But what remained was to convince the jury.

As for Othman, he faced an obstacle in obtaining the necessary engine for his project, and had no choice but to replace it with another. Othman strongly defended both his device and his dream before the jury, as did Jamal, who used his time in the spotlight to give a full overview of his innovation experience.

The struggle for victory in the engineering stage was between Wadah Malaeb, the founder of an innovation focused on the laboratory development of biological cells, and Ahmed Fathallah, who has invented an educational platform through electronic cubes. Wadah spoke about the feelings of anxiety he experienced while awaiting test results, while Ahmed decided to change the screen of his cubes, which are intended to ensure play carries an educational benefit, in the final moments of the testing stage.

The latest episode of the show saw the judges separated – with some giving their judgments remotely.

Facing the jury was far from easy, as the jurors surrounded Ahmed with questions related to the psychological aspect of his game and its impact on children, while Wadah had to answer a series of scientific questions accurately. When it came to the audience judging the performance of the four participants, Wadah led the way with 55 percent of the vote.

The tension was broken by Engineer Abdulrahman Saleh Khamis, who reached the final episode of the last season of Stars of Science, made his return as a guest in this episode. He spoke about his achievements since starring in the program, such as establishing a private company to develop Sajdah, a smart educational prayer mat.

But competition soon resumed, and once again the two Kuwaiti participants – Mohammad Almogahwi, inventor of a robotic toothbrush, and Sarah Aboerjaib, who has unveiled her limb trauma scanner project – had to face the jury together.

To test her project, Sarah brought a cat with a broken limb into the laboratory, to show how the differences between a fractured limb and a healthy limb are monitored using her device, Although Professor El-Zoheiry bombarded her with questions, she was determined to find a way through them, but when it came to the criticisms of Professor Mrad's criticism, the feelings of disappointment were clear on Sarah's face. And Mohammed faced no less of a challenge as he emphasized that his innovation is aimed specifically at people with special needs, making it easier for them to clean their teeth.

The last confrontation was between Azzam Alwan and his idea of adding a new dimension to security for mobile phones, and Qatari participant Eiman Al Hamad, with her project to safeguard information privacy in the Arabic language. The jury quizzed Eiman on several points, such as the target market for her invention – which she confirmed is Qatar - and the differences between languages, as well as the potential problem of using English terms during talks in Arabic.

Tensions once again ran high for the participants – but the end of the episode held another surprise for them.

Meanwhile, Azzam had to explain how he is tackling issues of time and accuracy in monitor the hacking process, but was able to successfully defend his project, evidenced by the fact that 38 percent of the audience voted for him.

Remote communication and the separation of the members of the jury did not prevent some light-hearted clashes between Yosouf Salehi and Professor Mrad, adding a touch of fun to the studio environment, which was just what the participants needed to ease their nerves as the crucial moment – the announcement of which participants would leave the program – approached.

But the surprise – for the second week in a row - came from Professor Mrad, who confirmed that nobody would be leaving the show in this episode, explaining that this was because “the world needs these doctors and engineers, under the current circumstances.”

After getting over their amazement, the participants’ delight and relief at this decision was clear – and they were unanimous that it will motivate them to raise their performance in the next episode, as they once again put their innovations to the test in front of millions of viewers.

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