Samar teaches Robotics and Physics to mainly Syrian and Palestinian refugee girls, in an UNWRA school in Irbid, Jordan. Irbid camp is a poor community, and many girls drop out of school owing to early marriage. In a bid to increase interest in science among the students, she introduced robotics into her lessons. She has encouraged them to enter national and Arab-wide competitions to open up opportunities for them, including scholarships to private schools and universities.
Samar’s Science and Robot Club is the centre of the school. Parents choose the school specifically so that their daughters can join the club. Her students do well at school as a result. Many have been awarded scholarships at major private schools in the city because of their knowledge of robotics. All those who learned using the robots have completed their university studies. Despite their difficult living conditions, they received educational grants and learned to overcome difficulties through their participation in various competitions.
By introducing the robotics programme, Samar has raised her students’ awareness of international issues. Each year, she sets female students participating in the robotics programme a scientific research challenge focused on a different global problem. Her students must analyse the problem, pose hypotheses and find solutions, before presenting them to experts. In recent years the global issues they have looked at include energy, transportation, food shortages, the elderly, disasters, education, waste and the animal world.
One of Samar’s students won first prize in an Arab-world science and engineering competition. Others are now working as physics teachers at the UNRWA. Samar has been recognised many times for her pioneering work in girls’ educations and in 2015 she won the UNWRA Distinguished Teacher Award.