Guyana to host Caribbean Science Foundation’s annual STEM conference

Student works in the biochemistry lab.

Student works in the biochemistry lab.

Georgetown, Guyana, November 25, 2013 – The third annual workshop of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) will be held in Georgetown, Guyana between December 2-3, 2013, at the Grand Coastal Hotel. The theme for the workshop is “Stimulating Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Science and Engineering.” Students, teachers, lecturers, scientists, entrepreneurs and government officials from Guyana, the Caribbean region and the Caribbean Diaspora will be in attendance. The CSF, in collaboration with the Guyana Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation (CADSTI), are the conference organizers.

The CSF was established in 2010 as an independent non-profit non-governmental organization with the mission of assisting with the diversification of the economies of Caribbean countries by promoting education reform in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM), and stimulating more technology-based entrepreneurship. Ms. Petal Jetoo of the Guyana Ministry of Education has been instrumental in the planning and the hosting of this Workshop.  Ms. Jetoo also serves as the CSF representative for Guyana.

Participants in the Caribbean Research Foundation's Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering summer event.

Participants in the Caribbean Research Foundation’s Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering summer event.

At the opening of the workshop, Interim Executive Director of the CSF and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cardinal Warde, will provide an update on the CSF’s programs and activities in the Region.  The first day’s agenda will focus on topics of particular relevance to students and teachers.  These include CSF’s youth and educational programs: the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) and the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge.  Presentations by Guyanese students who participated in these programs are expected to be a highlight.

Also on the first day, a session will feature career opportunities in the STEM disciplines, comprising panel members from the Diaspora and the Region.  Dr. Didacus Jules, the registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), will chair the session on “STEM teacher training.” The importance of “Entrepreneurship in the Region” will be chaired by Mr. Bowen Wells, former UK Minister of Parliament and a member of the CADSTI-CSF Honorary Governing Council.  A poster session will provide a forum for research presentations from the region.

Professor Cardinal Warde

Professor Cardinal Warde

On the second day, Guyanese students will receive practical training during specially designed micro- science workshops, courtesy of UNESCO.  The students will also have a chance to interact closely with both local and visiting academics during the “Stump the Professor” session. Reports from the CADSTI branches within the Diaspora (UK, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the U.S.) will be provided, as well as reports from the Regional network of CSF representatives.

The session, “Guyana on the Move” will highlight science and technology in Guyana, and will be chaired jointly by Professor Maya Trotz of the University of South Florida (a native of Guyana) and Dr. Jeanese Badenock of the University of the West Indies, Barbados. The workshop of the CSF is anticipated to be an interactive forum highlighting exchange of information, ideas and experiences related to science and technology for students, teachers, the scientific and business communities, and government representatives.  Sponsors include UNESCO, OAS, CXC, Government of Canada, and the Ministry of Education of Guyana.  More information is available at http://caribbeanscience.org.–OnPointPress.net.

Caribbean entity promotes STEM education for regional students

Participants in the summer event.

Participants in the Caribbean Science Foundation’s  Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering, SPISE summer event.

Barbados, West Indies: September 3, 2013: Sixteen students from ten Caribbean countries recently completed a rigorous four-week program designed to enhance their preparation for science and technology careers. Each year, the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) runs the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE). This year, the students represented 10 Caribbean countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and Trinidad & Tobago.

The courses covered during the program included university level calculus, physics, biochemistry, entrepreneurship, humanities and Mandarin, as well as laboratory work in robotics/electronics and biochemistry.  In addition, students participated in a career seminar series where they heard first-hand about the career paths, decisions and experiences of six notable professionals in science and engineering.  Instructors included faculty from the University of the West Indies and senior management from the US biotechnology industry.

Students and professors participate in the summer event.

Students and professors participate in the summer event.

Interim Executive Director of the CSF Professor Cardinal Warde is one of the main partners in the venture, which is modeled after the successful Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  All SPISE students participated free of charge, due to generous donations from sponsors. The SPISE culminated with the students presenting their final projects in robotics and entrepreneurship to the public.

In the robotics competition, the students modified underwater robots, donated by the MIT Sea-Grant program, in order to retrieve floating balls on the water surface and place them into a basket. This tested their innovation, ingenuity and engineering design skills. For entrepreneurship, teams of students pitched business plans and then fielded tough questions from the audience which included Mr. Peter Williams, managing director of Light and Power Holdings and Dr. DeLisle Worrell, governor of the Central Bank of Barbados.

Student works in the biochemistry lab.

Student works in the biochemistry lab.

Members of the audience were given fake money to invest in the teams they found most persuasive, ultimately deciding on the winner. Also, the students performed two skits entirely in Mandarin to showcase their skills in their newly-learned language.  The two skits, “The Crazy Waitress” and “Shopping Day Gone Awry,” brought much laughter and applause from the audience.  These performances took place despite the Mandarin instruction comprising only 12 hours in total over a three-week period.

The SPISE is one of CSF’s education reform initiatives with the long-term goal of helping to diversify the economies of the Caribbean by stimulating more technology-based entrepreneurship.  It is anticipated that students who complete the SPISE will eventually attend some of the best science and engineering universities in the world, and become scientific, engineering and business leaders in academia and industry within the Caribbean.  For more information about the CSF and SPISE, including sponsorship of students for SPISE 2014, contact Professor Warde at warde.csf@gmail.com or visit http://caribbeanscience.org.– OnPointPress.net