Current Partnerships


Edible School Garden Project

The Edible School Garden Project was launched in 2020 as a collaboration between TKS and the Plant Scientists in the Biological and Environmental Sciences & Engineering (BESE) academic division of the University (led by Professor Rod Wing and Anna Rautek). The Edible School Garden will enable our students to develop a deep understanding of sustainable agricultural practices, food production, the environment, healthy food habits and living, and the study of plant science, and will offer learning across many curricula areas, including culture, history, math, chemistry, physics, biology, engineering... to K-12.

The students at TKS are working with plant scientists and garden designers to design and build the physical school garden, and TKS educators and the University faculty are working together to develop curricula. The project is on track to deliver the physical garden in August 2022, and it will be an embedded part of the curricula for the 2022/2023 school year. Phase 2 of the project will then look at building a TKS shade/greenhouse facility including a biology lab which can be used to undertake hands-on experiments, which will be led by the University’s students and postdocs.

Once up and running, Secondary students will also have the opportunity to take part in research projects that are being carried out at the existing KAUST research field site and greenhouse.


Garden Design Challenge Winners!

The Grade 11 students engaged in this challenge as part of their Group 4 project – a collaborative and multi-disciplinary activity that encourages IB Diploma Program (DP) science students to appreciate and investigate the environmental, social, and ethical implications of science. Engineering Design students in Grades 9-12 also took part as part of their final project.

Kindergarten students used their knowledge of geometric shapes to create a garden layout for the garden that will be created at the Kindergarten.

The designs were judged by TKS faculty, staff from the Center for Desert Agriculture and Plant Scientist, and prizes were awarded in the categories of Best Overall Design, Best Research, Most Sustainable Design, Best Individual Submission and Best Kindergarten Submission.

Congratulations to all the participants. The top designs will contribute towards the overall final design for the Edible School Garden.

Red Sea Decade Expedition/OceanX

The Red Sea Decade Expedition is an ambitious project, led by the National Center for Wildlife (NCW), to deliver an end-to-end inventory of biodiversity and habitats in the Red Sea, involving a large-scale collaborative effort including KAUST, KAU, KFUPM, OceanX, The Red Sea Project and NEOM.  The expedition set off in February 2022 and will last for four months.  The project will also deliver education and outreach materials to inform on the unique biodiversity and conservation importance of the Red Sea.  To this end, TKS is working with the university researchers (led by Distinguished Professor Carlos Duarte) and project team to develop content for weekly ‘live’ classroom sessions, recorded sessions and other challenges/experiments.  Lessons are being offered to all ages across TKS (from K-12), and will include live lessons, project-based activity, and co-curricular groups.  TKS students are not only participating as learners in the sessions, but some are part of the panel and are able to ask questions/pose challenges to the on-board researchers directly.

Live lessons began in March, 2022 and will continue for the duration of the expedition.

Grade 4s have recently completed their learning unit about living things and adaptations.  This fitted well with the Red Sea Decade Expedition classrooms being delivered live from the OceanX vessels.  In addition to the OceanX team, Lyndsey Tanabe – a Marine Science student in the Red Sea Research Center presented to the TKS students about turtles in the Red Sea.  The students learned about the downstream effects of rising water temperatures on sea turtles.  The students also studied reports about how lawn run-off (full of fertilizer) is effecting manatees in Jacksonville, Florida and developed a cause and effect model to illustrate this.



Computer Science Education Week

As part of Computer Science Education Week, TKS Kindergarten collaborated with University students and staff from the Computational, Electrical, Mathematical Science & Engineering (CEMSE) division to take part in ‘Hour of Code’ – an international activity to celebrate (and introduce) young students to computer science.

The Hour of Code activity launched their robotics learning unit, and the young students explored three different robots (Cubelets, Hexbugs and Ozobots). The students and staff from CEMSE led some hands-on inquiry sessions with the students in K1 to K3.

Find out more on the CEMSE website and check out the activity in this video.

Sharing the Planet

As part of the K2 Sharing the Planet unit, the Red Sea Research Center hosted the children and they were able to explore the aquariums, where they were introduced to the jellyfish and learned about “Nemo” and other sea creatures. This is what the students thought…

On seeing the giant whale shark…

“Is it dead or alive”?... “It’s like a statue!”… “I smell fish.”

… and their favorite part of the trip…

“Seeing Nemo and the rainbow fish”… “I counted 8 fish!”… “I like how the anemone is doing ‘open-shut’”.

KAUST Research Conference on Robotics and Autonomy 2022… and the “little” Red Sea Research Center

As part of #RobotoKAUST, the libraries at the Kindergarten have been transformed into the “Little Red Sea Research Center”. In collaboration with the Red Sea Research Center and CEMSE Division (Professor Mike Berumen, Professor Eric Feron and Assistant Professor Shinkyu Park), the students are learning more about the Red Sea and the use of robots in the sea.

The kindergarten students are again taking part in the conference and have been tasked to work on a project to solve a real-world problem – contamination of coral reefs – by designing robots for the task. See more here.  The students’ work will be showcased at the RobotoKAUST Gala event on March 1, 2022.

To see more about KG’s collaborations with the Conference, visit Robotokids.


Grade 3 students had a visit from the ‘FishKAM’ team (Mohamed Omar, Andres Espinoza and Krasi Todorov) who shared videos of the underwater camera being installed, explained how divers breathe underwater with air canisters, and brought SCUBA gear for the kids to try on… and answered lots of questions about pirates and mermaids! Continuing their Red Sea theme, the K3s will soon be visiting the KAUST research vessel – RV Thuwal.


Sharing the Planet

The Grade 4 Sharing the Planet unit develops students’ understanding of how living things adapt to the external conditions of their environments. This unit aligns well with KAUST’s Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA), which develops plants that can grow in harsh desert conditions (heat, sand and salt).

The Grade 4 students – with initial help from the CDA scientists, Dongryung Lee and Vanessa Melino, and a Core Labs Lead Scientist, Angelo Gallone – are growing quinoa and barley and applying various treatments to test plant resiliency. Students will track and analyze phenotype data over the coming weeks. Some students will attempt to input collected data into simulation models coded using Scratch.

This project is a great example of how TKS students can benefit from being part of the KAUST community, and the enthusiasm and support of the Center for Desert Agriculture and the KAUST Core Labs to expose students to real-world science and research.

World Food Day

Grade 5 students celebrated World Food Day and collaborated with the plant scientists in the Center for Desert Agriculture to be ‘food heroes’. The project kicked off with Professor Mark Tester talking to the Grade 5 students about the need to grow food locally as a way to reduce our carbon footprint. With the support of the KAUST’s Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA), the students planted seeds and are monitoring their growth. 

The students also visited the CDA labs and greenhouses, where they learnt more about the amazing innovations and research that the KAUST scientists are working on. They observed some experiments and learned how to extract a plant’s DNA. They all received a gift of a plant to grow and care for at home.

How the World Works

Grade 5 students were out and about again when they visited the Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center (ANPERC) as part of the ‘How The World Works’ unit of inquiry. Professor Hussein Hoteit hosted the group and they learnt about the history of fossil fuels, how they form, the technologies used to discover and produce them, their value and environmental footprint, and the search for alternative sustainable sources.

During the tour, the students watched some amazing demonstrations and learnt more about the research and innovation that is taking place at KAUST relating to fossil fuels.

Michele De Bastiani and Michael Salvador, research scientists from the KAUST Solar Center met with the students to talk about how solar cells work, the impact that carbon emissions have on the planet, and why everyone needs to play their part in reducing carbon emissions. The students made their own solar collectors and conducted a solar energy experiment with water left outside for 30 minutes.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (STGs)

The Head of KAUST’s Sustainability team, Dr Ana Costa, delivered a presentation to Grade 5 students about the UN SDGs. Dr Costa talked about the history of the sustainability movement, why the goals have been created, and what we can all do as individuals to take action towards achieving these goals.

World Creativity & Innovation Week – April 15-21, 2022

As part of the many activities taking place at TKS for World Creativity & Innovation Day, the Grade 5s hosted guest speakers from the Water Desalination Research Center – Professor Matthew McCabe – Professor Matthew McCabe – Director of the Climate & Livability Initiative and Omar Camargo – a PhD student in Environment Science & Engineering. Matthew and Omar brought along ‘Spot’.  Spot is an agile mobile robot that is being used to research the terrain here at KAUST.  TKS students learned about the history and development of this amazing innovation, some of the technical aspects, and how it is being used to support research at KAUST.

Earth Day – April 22, 2022

As part of the many activities taking place at the university to mark Earth Day, the Water Desalination Research Center (WDRC) opened its doors to host the TKS Grade 5s.  The TKS students learned more about the research taking place and the technologies being used to monitor water in KSA and in seawater desalination.  They saw a number of lab displays and poster presentations and also took part in some activities themselves.  The visit ended with a Kahoot quiz to test how much the students had learned!

Representatives and students from the Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA) spent time at the Kindergarten and worked with the children to create Seed Balls – a fun and creative way to learn about sustainable planting.


SoundScape and the Red Sea

Grade 7 students are looking at how sound pollution in the world’s oceans and seas affects the residents of these habitats. Using Distinguished Professor Carlos Duarte’s interview where he talked about driving a change in the marine ecosystem to one of net positive conservation value as their inspiration, they have composed soundscape music that encourages the listener to question and reflect on the relationship they have with these environments. 

The students have been flexing their ‘deep listening’ muscles and have undertaken ‘Sound Walks’ to record and document the sounds around us. This work will continue as the students collaborate with the OceanX team as part of the Red Sea Decade Expedition, to use sounds that have been recorded from the Red Sea to compose their music.

Gardens Secondary School Science Round-up

Grade 8 students, as part of their unit on plants, have recently undertaken a project in the lab of KAUST’s Professor Gyorgy Szekely (Physical Science & Engineering Division) where they learned how to extract essential oils from orange and cinnamon plants.

Scientists from the lab of the Dean of the BESE Division (Professor Samir Hamdan) worked with the Grade 12 students to conduct gel electrophoresis.

Faisal Wali, Strategic Partnership and Lab Operations Manager from the KAUST Solar Center presented to the Grade 7 students on solar cells and renewable energy at KAUST.

TKS Sci-Café (in collaboration with the VPR Office)

Graduate students from the Red Sea Research Center, Earth Science & Engineering and Environmental Science & Engineering formed the panel for the TKS Sci-Café in February 2022 – Monitoring the Planet.

TKS Secondary students heard from Aislin Dunne (PhD student) who is studying marine ecosystems to understand how human impact influences them, Maria Perea Barreto (PhD student) who spoke about her work with remote sensing and geological hazards, and Fabio Veiga de Carmargo (Master student) who is focusing on satellite sensing of terrestrial and ocean ecosystems.