Palestinians win Intel Science Fair award

Three fourteen year-old girls from the UNRWA school at Askar refugee camp in Nablus have won an award at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose, California.

Aseel Abu Aleil, Noor Alarada and Aseel Alshaar picked up a special award in 'applied electronics' at the event - the world’s premier youth science competition, according to the press release.

The trio invented an electronic 'sensor cane' for the visually impaired, which for the first time sends an infrared signal downwards as well as forwards.

Praising the originality of the invention, Mark Uslan, a Director at the American Federation of the Blind said: "Although various types of 'laser canes' have existed since the early 1970s, the girls' design resolves a fundamental flaw in previous models by detecting holes in the ground".

That does indeed sound useful - especially in somewhere like Nablus.

"The girls are part of the UNRWA’s school system, which is educating 500,000 children throughout the Middle East. Unfortunately, severe financial constraints threaten the continued provision of quality education to young Palestine refugees like these girls from Nablus," said UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner General, Margot Ellis, holding out a cap.

UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 4.7 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory.

Intel is the biggest employer in Israel - apart from the military. Nablus is situated in the territory occupied by Israel.