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DHAHRAN: Dhahran was a big winner in the Saudi segment of the Aramco-powered F1 Schools National Championship, with teams claiming first and fourth place in the competition held at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, over the weekend.

The 2024 national champion title went to Dhahran’s Shaheen, second place to Al-Ahsa’s Venture, third to Riyadh’s Clad and fourth place – another award added for the first time – to Dhahran’s Oryx.

On Saturday, Ithra’s large hall was transformed into an immersive center with a focus on Formula 1 until July 13. (photo AN)

The winners will represent Saudi Arabia in a global competition to be held in the Kingdom later this year.

The F1 in Schools competition is a globally recognized educational program that challenges students to design, build and race miniature F1 cars. This year’s theme was “Overcoming the Impossible”.

Maha Abdulhadi, Director of F1 in Schools at Ithra, said in a statement: “With a shared commitment to serve as an incubator for education and youth empowerment, Ithra and F1 in Schools offer young people the knowledge and experience to develop their ambitions and skills to create bright future for yourself and your country.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The F1 in Schools competition is a globally recognized educational program that challenges students to design, build and race miniature F1 cars.

• Participating students aged 15-16 were expected to use a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) based curriculum.

“We are excited to host these promising young students, their families and visitors from across the country as the competition shifts gears.”

On Saturday, Ithra’s large hall was transformed into an immersive center with a focus on Formula 1 until July 13. (photo AN)

On Saturday, the Great Hall of Ithra was transformed into an immersive center with a focus on Formula 1 until July 13.

Eight simulators will allow people over the age of 15 to test drive an F1 car in real time. The VR experience also offers visitors an authentic taste of high-speed action.

On Saturday, students cheered as they saw their faces appear on the screen during the “Day in the Life of F1 in Schools” segment of the video.

On Saturday, Ithra’s large hall was transformed into an immersive center with a focus on Formula 1 until July 13. (photo AN)

The ceremony also celebrated coaches and judges who flew in from around the world, as well as local judges.

Students from different schools have been working in groups for the past six months, developing prototypes under the supervision of 38 professionals.

Participating students, aged 15 or 16, were expected to use a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) based curriculum that combines both hard and soft skills.

On Saturday, Ithra’s large hall was transformed into an immersive center with a focus on Formula 1 until July 13. (Photo/Yasir Alqunais)

Students could explore topics ranging from physics and aerodynamics to design, manufacturing, branding and graphics. They also learned marketing and leadership skills, how to use social media effectively, and how to create a financial strategy.

This year, 120 students were divided into 20 teams, with each team working from a local center. The cities of Dhahran, Al-Ahsa, Riyadh, Jeddah and Madinah returned this year, while Abha was added for the first time.

To demonstrate Ithra’s commitment to local culture, folk dancers from each of the six cities represented took to the stage together, while images of students working on their F1 projects were shown in the background.

On Saturday, Ithra’s large hall was transformed into an immersive center with a focus on Formula 1 until July 13. (Photo/Yasir Alqunais)

Ithra first partnered with F1 in Schools in 2021 and is leading the national competition in Saudi Arabia, spearheading the launch of several learning centers across the Kingdom to facilitate the training and development of students in the F1 challenge.

In 2023, Ithra hosted the country’s first F1 Schools National Final, with 16 teams competing.

Andrew Denford, founder and chairman of F1 in Schools, noted at the time that girls made up 68 per cent of students taking part. Three of the teams went on to represent Saudi Arabia at this year’s World Finals in Singapore, with the Oryx team from Dhahran winning the award for innovative thinking.

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. (Photo/Yasir Alqunais)

A large percentage of girls also entered the competition this year, competing for 12 awards in categories ranging from fastest car and oral presentation to sustainability.

In continuation of the promotion of recycling by Ithra, workshops created car molds by melting plastic bottle caps in a designated laboratory. Forms made especially for F1 in schools will be available all week.

Under the library’s escalator, a car made of 90 percent recycled or repurposed components, including 5,000 water bottles, steel and acrylic sheets, was on display. It took at least 12 people around 1,500 hours to create the 120 kg vehicle.

The 10-day series of events will include interactive activities as well as a paper car workshop, a mixed reality garage, a car Lego station and talks with F1 experts.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, David Howes, Director of Communications and Events for F1 in Schools, said: “Having worked for F1 Esports since 2004, I have seen our global community grow from four countries to 62 today and it is truly an honor to be here in Saudi Arabia, not only to witness a national title, but to witness a world-class event, and most importantly, to see world-class teams compete.”

The fourth Formula 1 in schools is now open for applicants. Students who qualify can apply through the Ithra website, where a full schedule of activities for the week is also available.

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