EY MENA | By Will Cooper
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The world of work demands new skills. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are in greater demand than ever before, as organizations and societies seek innovative ways to overcome our planet’s greatest challenges. And that means ensuring that today’s children — the people who will solve tomorrow’s problems — are equipped with the right skills and motivations.
A new solution has been developed to do just that. Citizen Science is a mobile platform that enables STEM learning both inside and outside of the classroom. It encourages young people of all ages to learn about the power of science through experimentation and play on a mobile device.
TURNING A MOBILE PHONE INTO A POCKET LABORATORY
Citizen Science contains a range of experiments and challenges that encourage young people to collect data and share it with leading scientific research institutions. It is engaging, not only enticing young people to pursue careers in STEM-related fields, but also helping them develop broader 21st century skills relevant across all labor market sectors.
Citizen Science helps to develop skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, which are vitally important to young people as they progress through education and into employment. It connects young people around the world to each other and to their environment, makes them better and more responsible citizens and deepens their awareness of topics such as climate change and sustainability.
There are also clear benefits for scientific research communities. Scientists need localized data to conduct research into topics like the impact of climate change. This is both time consuming and expensive.
Citizen Science allows scientists to design data crowdsourcing experiments within the platform that encourage children to act as a global network of science data gatherers. So children around the world play a role in some of our planet’s most urgent research programs.
THE MIDDLE EAST AND BEYOND
EY and Tribal Planet Inc., the developers of the Citizen Science platform, have formed an exclusive collaboration to bring Citizen Science to the Middle East region. Piloted with schoolchildren from the United Arab Emirates in March 2016, the global unveiling of the platform was held in Abu Dhabi on 25 April 2016 at an event delivered in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).
EY and Tribal Planet Inc. are now working together to enable the rollout of the Citizen Science platform to young people across the Middle East. The region is on the cusp of significant change, underpinned by the need to diversify economies and reduce reliance on oil.
Future balancing of market demand and labor supply will require much closer collaboration between all the players, and innovative solutions to ensure that the generation now coming through school is equipped and motivated to compete.
Citizen Science shows how this can be achieved. But these challenges are not restricted to the Gulf states. They are global. Hence the vision over the next five years to make Citizen Science available to 500 million young people around the world.
Will Cooper is EY Advisory’s Middle East & North Africa Government Social Infrastructure Lead Partner, based in Abu Dhabi.