It was a paddy processor created by the students of the Region Two Abram Zuil Secondary School that carted off the winning title when the curtain came down on the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown, yesterday.
Representatives of the winning school are expected to head to Florida, United States, by mid next year to compete in the regional leg of the competition.
The Sagicor Visionaries Challenge is a Science competition which saw several projects from students across the country vying for the winning spot. It was conducted over the course of Friday and Saturday during which students were given a chance to explain their projects and their relevance to solving problems in the society.
The winning school is eligible for a Caribbean Science Foundation Centre Computerised Mobile Science and Technology Centre Vernier System. Yesterday it received six Caribbean Examination Council approved Science Kits and a trophy.
According to Deputy Head and Chemistry Teacher of the winning school, Jerome Rajpersaud, the idea for the project was crystallised during an exercise to clean a fowl pen. The flooring of the pen, according to him, had a spread of paddy husk that overtime became solid and appeared ready to be made into wood. Of course his scientific instincts got the better of him and before long he was sharing the idea with his students of Form Five Science. “We did our research; we experimented on it and that’s how we came up with this project,” an elated Rajpersaud said. The project details a process where paddy husk is taken from a solar dryer and placed into a mill where it is ground into smaller pieces. These are then taken by a conveyor belt into a mixing drum where the pieces of husk are mixed for about 10 minutes with an aliphatic resin. After this the content of the drum is transferred unto another conveyor belt on which there is a mould which forms the mixed substance before it is transferred into a hot and cold hydraulic press and then into a refinery where the edges are trimmed. “It is then ready for the market,” explained Rajpersaud as he spoke of the possible use of the finished products. This product, he disclosed, can be used for the purpose of making ceiling panels, roofing, furniture, cupboard and pretty much anything that wood products can be used for.
And according to Rajpersaud, he had no doubt in his mind that his school would have come out on top.
“We knew that we had a project that would have met the requirement of Sagicor from the initial stages of this competition,” asserted the deputy Head teacher who disclosed too that the school had entered the same project at the Ministry of Education’s spearheaded national science fair earlier this year and won that too.
The second runner-up place was claimed by St Stanislaus College while the first runner-up place for the competition went to Queen’s College.
Ahead of recognising the schools that produced outstanding projects, Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, addressed a gathering made up of mainly students. According to him, having spoken to some of the children “I was very impressed not only by what I saw, but the concepts and ideas that have been put forward…and I hope that if we can see some of these materialise then some of the problems that are facing us as a country we can use these solutions to solve the problems.”
According to Science Coordinator attached to the Ministry of Education, Ms Petal Jettoo, who almost single-handedly planned the competition, although the process was a tiring one the success of the two-day event certainly alleviated that feeling.
She said that the Challenge was a means of unveiling some of the talent that students possess. “If we do not ask them we would not know what ideas reside in our young children’s minds; and because of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge these young minds are able to solve problems using STEM,” said Jettoo.
She expressed satisfaction with the result of the competition.
The competition was spearheaded by Sagicor with collaboration from the Caribbean Science Foundation, the Ministries of Education, and Culture, Youth and Sport.