For the third time in a row the St Martin Secondary School has copped the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge title.
The school won the competition for the first time in 2013 and was represented by Kendra Jean-Jacques, while the following year Jeaselle Blaize won that competition.
A panel of seven judges on Wednesday declared 15-year-old Gislain Francois winner with a project called “Mosquito Buster” at the competition held at the St Alphonsus Parish Hall in Goodwill on Wednesday.
The project is a mosquito repellent made from natural ingredients.
The school also won the awards for Best Innovation, Best presentation, Best use of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Best plan and project design.
“I feel very excited although I didn’t have much confidence. I didn’t expect to win this competition,” Francois said during an interview with the media shortly after her win.
According to her, she decided to make a natural repellent instead of using other repellents made with chemicals.
“I did the experiment to find out if they work, then used the candle, the bulb shade, the disinfectant and garlic spray, and air freshener that will repel mosquitoes but doesn’t kill them,” she explained.
She said General Manager of Sagicor Life Inc, Cheryl Rolle helped her build her confidence and she is very thankful.
Francois stated that her project idea came about because of the widespread of the mosquito-borne Zika Virus which is presently affecting the region and other parts in the world.
“I did this because too many babies are being born with diseases and too many people are being infected,” she explained.
Her winning prizes include six approved science kits, a Caribbean science computerized mobile science and technology centre and an all-expenses paid trip to Florida where she and her teacher, Vanessa Seraphin will tour S.T.E.M-related institutions and experience S.T.E.M. in action.
Seraphin expressed great excitement and said Francois worked very hard on the project and that she was satisfied with the outcome.
“I am very happy, I feel very proud of my students, she worked very hard on this project and I am really satisfied,” she stated. “When I listened to her when she was presenting to the judges she really did an excellent presentation.”
She noted that all the hard work has paid off.
“When they had to look at problems going on in the country or in the world she came up with mosquitoes and then she had some real mad ideas, but it really paid off,” she noted. “She did a lot of research and she came up with all these different products and how to make them”
Seraphin encouraged other teachers to come on board with the program.
The school had two other projects forming part of the competition.
The second place went to the Convent High School with a project called ‘Vegetable Garden’. The students who participated in that project were Shelise Bell, O’jana Wyllis and Shanice Moses.
Part of their prize include 4 CXC approved science kits and a cash prize.
The Dominica Grammar School placed third with ‘Math Helper 101’.
They won the award for Best Community and School Involvement. Two students represented the school in the competition.
The third place prize include 10 CXC approved science kits and $200.
Special recognition award went to the Dominica State College (DSC) in fourth place with a projected called ‘Water Magnet’.
Other prizes went to the Goodwill Secondary School for Most Relevant to sustainable Caribbean Community with their project ‘Solar AC Unit’.
The other participating schools were; the Castle Bruce Secondary School, St Mary’s Academy, Pierre Charles Secondary, Seventh Days Adventist Secondary, and Portsmouth Secondary.
The Sagicor Visionaries Challenge was conceptualized by Sagicor and the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), in partnership with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and aims to promote the use of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to develop effective, innovative and sustainable solutions to problems.