Last Updated: 11/14/2013*
Raytheon's MathAlive! science exhibit made its Middle East debut with whirling displays, pounding drums and computerized snowboards that thrilled children and dignitaries alike during a ceremony in the United Arab Emirates.
The new, Arabic-language exhibit contains many of the same activities as the U.S. version that has wowed visitors at the Smithsonian Institution and other museums. But Raytheon has also added new attractions, including a simulator that allows children to design "super-tall" buildings like the UAE's Burj Khalifa skyscraper.
“To see such energy and activity and the spirit of learning that’s here is remarkable,” said Dr. Tayeb A. Kamali, vice chancellor of the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology, as children filled the exhibit during the Nov. 14 opening.
The entrance to MathAlive! Middle East in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The U.S. version of MathAlive! has been a hit at the Smithsonian Institution and other museums.
The debut in Abu Dhabi is part of Raytheon's growing efforts to help science, technology, engineering and math education in the region. The company is also launching "The Little Engineer," an Arabic adaptation of the popular Engineering is Elementary curriculum for teachers, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Museum of Science, Boston and the pan-Arab educational organization Injaz worked together to develop the program.
Raytheon’s education initiatives build on already established programs in the United States, Australia and Europe to help provide youth with the education and skills to thrive in a global innovation economy.
Raytheon International CEO John Harris and H. H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, Chairman of the Crown Prince Court, cut the ribbon at MathAlive! Middle East in Abu Dhabi.
“For nearly 50 years, Raytheon has been honored to continuously support the defense and security of our partners in the Middle East,” said William H. Swanson, Raytheon’s chairman and chief executive officer. “During that time, our commitment has strengthened and grown in exciting new areas like science, technology, engineering and math education, as well as technology development.”
The Middle East version of MathAlive! will be the first international version of the exhibition. Designed to capture the imaginations of middle and elementary school students, it allows students to create their own video game or engineer a city using hands-on tools.The 465-square-meter exhibit includes signs and software in both Modern Standard Arabic and in English.
"We've been watching kids play with it, and they just love it," said Susan Kirch, creative director for the MathAlive! project. "Math is a universal language, and so is fun."
In the Flicker Fusion activity, students use knobs to adjust the speed of whirling human figures until they appear to dance. Another attraction teaches children geometry as they ride down a virtual mountain on a snowboard.
Raytheon reingeered the popular Mix it Up music attraction to include instruments and music from the Middle East. It also added a new exhibit highlighting the region's contributions to science and mathematics.
"We tailored it to the region, but it really transcends language and geography," said Allison Jeannotte, Raytheon's director of community relations.
MathAlive! also extends the fun to teachers, who now have an expanded, interactive lab to explore the possibilities of the math and science they teach.
“We all share a goal of providing our youth with the education and skills to thrive in a global innovation economy,” Swanson said. “By expanding MathAlive! and Engineering is Elementary to the Gulf region, we hope to inspire young students to pursue exciting and rewarding careers.”
MathAlive! debuted last year at the Smitshonian Institution, one of the United States’ most prestigious museum foundations.
The new, Arabic-language version is an integral part of the Abu Dhabi Science Festival, said Dr. Linda Silver, Associate Director at the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee.
Youngsters try out “Style Revolution: 360 Degree Photo Shoot,” which captures their photos in three dimensions. Visitors can create a video of themselves and email it to friends.
“Science is intrinsically interesting; it’s about exploration, discovery and asking questions — activities that all come naturally to children,” Silver said. “The inclusion of interactive exhibit experiences like MathAlive! help to heighten that excitement and increase the chances of children pursuing science-related activities in their lives.”
To learn more about MathAlive! in the Middle East, visit www.mathalive-me.com.
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