Sagicor competition opens with innovative projects

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As the national leg of Sagicor Visionaries Competition kicked off, primary and secondary schools from all across Guyana gathered at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on Friday 28 to showcase their innovative solutions to the various problems within their communities.

Over 70 entries from Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (Essequibo Islands- West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) were submitted for the local leg of the competition.

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Several schools, including St Stanislaus College, Queen’s College and Diamond Secondary submitted more than one projects, enhancing their chances of winning.
The competition gives students the opportunity to put classroom theories into practical solutions to address everyday issues.

Some of the creative ideas were biological control for Chikungunya, making paper from rice straw, automated sprinklers, harnessing rainwater, fast food fuel, water purification systems and green space for a sustainable future.

One of St Stanislaus’ College’s projects perfectly displayed green space for sustainable future. The students explained that there is a lack of lunch tables within the school; therefore, they have developed a project to provide more seats within an environmentally-friendly atmosphere.

Moreover, The Berbice Education Institute developed a water purification project to address the issue of the shortage of water in the region. The students explained that they would source water from alternative sources like the rivers or trenches which would be pumped into a tank. The water will then be transferred to another tank which would remove the impurities, providing clean water.

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Similarly, Ulele Primary, a school from the Pomeroon, came up with a project which addresses flooding. The system would pump the flood water into a tank and then transfer it into another tank with small and large pebbles. The second tank would filter the water and then transfer it into a third tank. The students explained that bleach is added to the final result to ensure the water is pure and drinkable.

Speaking at the event, Education Minister Priya Manickchand disclosed that encouragingly, there has been a significant increase in the number of students paying interest in the sciences. In fact, she stated that there has been a 22 per cent increase in the number of students doing the sciences at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

“You’d think with an increase, you would see the drops in the grades. Well we haven’t had a drop… we have maintained our good grades with the number of students passing with ones, twos and threes.”

She said the increase in interest is owing to the large amount of students being exposed to science at a younger age.

Through the Inquiry-Based Science Education Programme, Grades Five and Six students are exposed to the sciences.

“We have our very small children, our babies getting exposed to science and science subjects… going into the field… looking at frogs, looking at how leaves rot when they fall into the drainers…”

Manickchand also noted that through the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Micro Science Kits are provided to secondary schools across Guyana, so that students are provided the opportunity to engage in practical science experiments.

Manickchand aims to have these kits distributed to all secondary schools in Guyana before 2015.

The participating countries in the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge Competition, which was launched in September, are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Tampa, Florida (Hillsborough County, USA).

During the month of November, all the participating countries are required to host a national competition to select a team which will go on to represent it at the regional competition. Each of the winning national teams will meet in Florida in July 2015 for the regional competition and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador Programme.

The national competition is being planned and coordinated by the Education and Culture, Youth and Sport Ministries, in collaboration with the Caribbean Science Foundation and Sagicor Life Inc.

The competition continues today at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.