Students of St. Winifred’s School, winners of the Barbadian leg of the inaugural Sagicor Visionaries Challenge Competition, pose with teacher, Eugenia Smith as she receives the challenge trophy from Minister of Education, Ronald Jones while Sagicor’s Assistant Vice-President, Marketing, Tracey Knight-Lloyd looks on. Students, from left to right, are Richard Estwick, Rachel Simms, Joshua Parris and Sabrina DaSilva (partly hidden).??????(A. Miller/BGIS)

Students who participated in the Barbados leg of the inaugural Sagicor Visionaries Challenge Competition have been praised for the level of discipline, teamwork and commitment to sustainable development portrayed in their exhibits.

Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, in addressing the awards ceremony yesterday at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, said he was "particularly pleased" to see how the young people effectively communicated to patrons through the exhibits on display.

Lauding each school that participated, Minister Jones said: "By simply participating in this Sagicor Visionaries Challenge all of you are winners… Developing the idea, moving the idea to exhibition stage this evening demonstrated a whole lot of ability… The ability to conceptualise…to spend disciplined time…while concentrating on your CXCs."

The Education Minister drew to their attention the fact that Caribbean people, whether here or in the diaspora, were not "absent from science," and he noted that the region had always played a part in developing lives in "a hostile environment" ravaged at times by hurricanes, man-made and natural made systems.

Sagicor Visionaries Challenge was conceptualised by Sagicor Life Inc. in partnership with the Caribbean Science Foundation and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). According to Sagicor’s Assistant Vice-President, Marketing, Tracey Knight-Lloyd, it was established as a way to encourage young people to think of innovative ways that we as a region could establish and maintain sustainable Caribbean communities. She stressed that the partners hoped to foster a relationship among regional students and "provide an avenue for them to explore and develop the integration and application of science, technology, engineering and Mathematics (STEM), to solve problems facing our communities."

Chief Judge, Cherice Gibson, described the projects as interesting and urged that they be developed further. "This was a brilliant expos?? of innovative ideas and it is evident that much hard work was put into each project," she said, adding that the judges were impressed with the level of innovation and the outstanding displays. ??

Recommending that students use the experience as a stepping stone towards their future, Ms Gibson stressed: "It is encouraging to see that the young and upcoming minds are considering the application of renewable energy and sustainable solutions in their schools and seeking to solve real problems with elegant solutions."

Meanwhile, Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of CXC, Didacus Jules, in acknowledging support, said it provided his organisation with an opportunity to make STEM come alive and to bridge the distance between certification and innovation. He called on students to "use their data, use the information and the experience to frame your SBAs in the relevant Science subjects that you may be registered for".

As he noted that CXC was moving beyond the constraints of a traditional examinations board, Dr. Jules said: "We have a fundamental responsibility to guarantee the human resource competitiveness of the Caribbean and we can achieve this by creating the alignment between what you study at school and what you do in real life.?? The mastery of science, technology and mathematics is not ultimately accomplished by classroom activities.

"It requires an inquisitive mind always questioning what is happening around it; it requires a creative mind always seeing better ways of doing things; it requires a persistent attitude never giving up whatever the challenge. This challenge is about learning to apply STEM by first asking the right or even the wrong questions, then shaping sustainable solutions through team work, application and with guidance of the mentors who have so willingly volunteered their time," he said.

St. Winifred’s School emerged winners of the competition with its Healthier Lungs With the Help of The CARbon-ioniser exhibit. Second place went to St George Secondary School with its Greenhouse & Livestock Sustainability Project,
while the Barbados Seventh-Day Adventist Secondary School took third place with Green Light, It Doesn’t Only Glow It Grows.

St. Winifred’s School will go on to compete against 11 others from the region next week, when the bigger challenge comes to Barbados at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, on Friday, April 12.


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