Today will be the day of reckoning when the designated judges decide which single science project is worthy to be named the entrant to compete at the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge regional competition. The local aspect of the competition commenced yesterday at the Cliff Anderson Sport Hall, Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown, with some 70 projects from schools across the country vying for the most outstanding placement.
The Challenge is one that is done among students region-wide and according to Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, Guyana this year has presented the most projects of a high quality when compared to the other participating territories.
But as she spoke to the participating students ahead of the unveiling of some of their projects yesterday, Minister Manickchand reminded them that “there is only one team that will win because that is what happens when you have a competition.”
The Minister accompanied by senior Ministry of Education officials, along with other stakeholders, and the judges of the competition were able to view the projects following a brief opening ceremony.
Ranging from projects designed to address the garbage situation in the capital city to a remedy to ward off the Chikungunya virus, and the ever recurring water filtration system, students from the various schools across the country proudly stood alongside their projects prepared to showcase and amplify why their projects could perhaps be better than the next. Using specified criteria, the judges of the competition yesterday commenced their unenviable task to ascertain whether the projects were as comprehensive as they were being touted to be whereby they could be applicable to help solve actual problems in the environment.
Last year it was a project from the Zeeburg Secondary School that was able to secure the winning place and went on to compete at the regional level. It however did not place there.
According to Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, the challenge is one that help uncovers the tremendous “almost untapped” potentials across the length and breadth of the land. It is in fact Sam’s conviction that “we in Guyana are ideally poised, I feel, to meet our mark in regard to this particular component of the education system and set ourselves, as we have, apart from our regional counterparts. I certainly expect that this year we will win the regional component of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge; and I certainly challenge all of you here to do exactly,” Sam urged those participating in the competition.
Speaking of the importance of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, Sagicor’s Manager, Ms Marlene Chin, noted that it is her hope and that of Sagicor Visionaries Challenge that efforts will be directed towards ensuring a more sustainable Caribbean. Even as she alluded to flooding situations right here in Guyana recently, Chin said “visionaries, your community needs you and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics can play a big part in the rehabilitation of the affected areas.”
Chin disclosed too that next year Sagicor will be celebrating 175 years of its operation and according to her, “we look forward to seeing the creative ways in which you will seek to positively influence the future for all of us.”
The Sagicor Visionaries Challenge is a competition that is intended to target secondary level schools as well as home schooled students between the ages of 11 and 16 who are encouraged to identify a challenge facing their respective school or school of choice. Having identified the challenge, students are tasked with using the STEM subjects to develop effective, innovative and sustainable solutions to the challenge identified.
Also addressing the opening ceremony yesterday was Barbados-based Assistant Director of the Caribbean Science Foundation, Ms Lois Oliver. She too emphasised the need to utilise the talent of “bright” students to help address challenges facing the individual communities in the Caribbean. “I congratulate you all for the amazingly hard work that you have put into this programme; I congratulate your teachers for supporting and guiding you,” said Oliver as she spoke of the projects on display yesterday which she did not hesitate to commend.