32 projects were on display from 28 of Belize’s high schools, in the second edition of a highly competitive challenge established by Caribbean regional insurance company SAGICOR, in conjunction with the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), to find the students best able to implement principles of the STEM disciplines – sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.
These students are not only competing against each other but with rivals from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Hillsborough County – Tampa, Florida, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, where SAGICOR has its offices.
We spoke to contest organizer and SAGICOR Belize Sales and Marketing Executive, Abel Simpson, about where the challenge will take students.
“The truth of the matter is that we have a lot of brain power among our students here in Belize. This competition really is designed to challenge them to get away from the television and the Facebook and everything else. They come us with very inovative ideas and solutions to the challenges facing their comminities and their schools.
The top three winners this afternoon will be getting cash prizes and also science kits for their schools, to be able to assist them in teaching mathematics , biology and science.
We’re hoping that we have enough interest from the private sector, because as you move around you will notice that we have some very excellent proposals here, and we’re hoping the private sector will be able to take advantage of that, and to be able to run with it, and provide the funding, so that they could actually become a reality.”
Each school was asked to present and outline an ongoing problem at their school and surrounding community which could be solved with use of STEM and design a project, including collected data, which showed that idea in action. Each proposal must show how the solution contributes to making Caribbean communities more sustainable.
Late Wednesday evening the winners were announced. Bishop Martin from Orange Walk won the first prize, St. Catherine’s Academy from Belize City won the 2nd and 3rd for separate projects. The top three are also to receive cash prizes and science kits for their schools.
One representative from each winning team will travel to Tampa, Florida for the S.T.E.M. Ambassador Programme in July 2015, all expenses paid. Bishop Martin is to represent Belize at the regional competition by online-based judges and receives US$5,000 for first prize for their school if they win. Bishop Martin High School remains the defending champion of the SAGICOR challenge.