After competing nationally, representatives from the Bishop Martin High School from Orange Walk Town travelled to Barbados to compete on the regional stage. It was no small feat as they took on equally bright science minds from other CARICOM countries with their project called Coconuts for Life. The competition targets the innovation of high school students in devising sustainable plans for their communities using science, technology, engineering and mathematics. On their return to Belize, the jubilant student and teacher told Duane Moody what gave them the edge.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Belize is top amongst the Caribbean…That’s the result coming out from the regional Sagicor Visionaries Challenge held this past weekend in Barbados. And today at the international airport, students and teachers from the Bishop Martin High School in Orange Walk and representatives from Sagicor (Belize) welcomed the delegation as they returned home.
Abel Simpson, Sales Manager, Sagicor Belize
“Bishop Martin High School has made Belize proud. It is not only a win for their high school, but it is a win for the entire country of Belize. A few weeks ago we had the national competition for the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge. They actually went off to Barbados over the weekend to represent us over there and they came out on top beating bigger countries than us like Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and even Jamaica. The competition involved the issue of science, technology, engineering and math. And the countries that actually represented came up with the best of the best—so the competition was tight.”
Bishop Martin High School competed against seventeen other high schools locally and won the opportunity to represent Belize regionally for the competition. The project, “Coconuts 4 Life,” outdid the concepts from some eleven other CARICOM countries. Both Angel Navidad and Shakira Gonzalez say the win came as a surprise.
Angel Navidad, Student, Bishop Martin High School
“I wasn’t expecting this; I can’t believe that we won. We weren’t expecting to win as well because all the projects were really good as well. I guess we just put out there the best that we could do and that was enough for the judges. “Coconuts 4 Life” is actually an eco-park that solves some problems that we identified in our community. The innovation was how we used the products from the coconut which normally are just thrown away as waste, but we implemented them so that they can sustain our park. And that was the innovative part as well as other features that we put into the park so that we could teach people sustainability.”
Shakira Gonzalez, Teacher, Bishop Martin High School
“My guess was that Guyana was going to take it; however, in some areas, I think they did not get all the points, but in most cases we got most of the points in all areas. So that’s why we won. Guyana and Jamaica had really good projects as well as Trinidad and Tobago. I was a little bit nervous, I have to say that my hands were sweating. And then they said first place goes to Belize and I was super excited.”
As for the well-deserved prizes, Sales Manager of Sagicor Belize, Abel Simpson, explains.
“In addition to what they win here nationally—which is an all-expense paid, seven-days trip to Florida—they will also be getting ten thousand dollars Belize and with all the science equipment and kit for their school; a mobile laboratory is what it is called. As we have said before, Belize has a lot of talent and this is just one other way of us proving to rest of the region and indeed to the world that there is a lot of talent coming from Belize. So these young people have made us proud; there is a lot of good things happening in Belize.”
“I know next year we will be expecting a lot more competition because this has set the pace. I know the other countries like Jamaica, Guyana; they are extremely competitive—we met the students and they are highly intellectual and they will bring their A-game next year. So we better prepare.”
Also as the regional winner, Belize will officially host the 2014 regional competition for which Simpson says planning will commence immediately. Duane Moody for News Five.