SPISE, Caribbean STEM program, hosted successful session

Students participated in another session of SPISE in the Caribbean, learning about STEM careers.

Students participated in another session of SPISE in the Caribbean, learning about STEM careers.

Bridgetown, Barbados, 8/24/2015: Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering, SPISE, a division of the Caribbean Science Foundation, hosted another successful four-week session at the University of the West Indies’ Barbados, campus. The session ended on August 14.

This year, 18 students from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago were selected from 66 applicants. The SPISE students were challenged with classes that included university-level calculus, physics, biochemistry, entrepreneurship and Mandarin, and hands-on projects in under-water robotics and renewable energy/electronics.

SPISE is intended to nurture and groom the next generation of technology entrepreneurs in the Caribbean, in an effort to assist with the economic developmental issues facing the region. SPISE not only achieves this through the subjects offered, but also through career seminars which give the students more awareness of the tremendous diversity of science-related jobs and careers.

In addition, SPISE offers workshops which coach the students on how to optimize their chances of admission with financial aid to the world’s top universities. As a consequence, students from previous SPISE classes are now studying at top universities, including Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Columbia, University College London, University of North Carolina, Florida Institute of Technology, Trent University and UWI.

SPISE concluded with final project presentations by the students and the event was open to the public. The audience included: Dr. DeLisle Worrell, governor of the Central Bank of Barbados; Barbados’ Minister of Labor, Social Security and Human Resources Development, Dr. Esther Byer; Ms. Jacqui Cuke of the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust; Dr. Tony Rossomando of Alexion Pharmaceuticals; Roger Beckles of Emera Caribbean; Jeff Barrus of the United States Embassy for Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS; other business professionals and several parents of the students.

During the event, the robotics, renewable energy, and entrepreneurship projects were showcased, and for the Mandarin presentation, the students sang “Jasmin Flower” in Mandarin (one of the most popular and mainstream traditional Chinese folk songs) which speaks out against corruption by praising the fair and pure Jasmin. The robotics projects required the SPISE scholars to build a basic model of an under-water robot, and then to use innovation and creativity to endow it with movable arms that could collect balls in a water-filled tank.

For the renewable energy presentation, wind turbines were built by student teams, each with its own unique blade design. The designs competed against each other as the audience got excited and involved in how different blade designs affected the effectiveness of wind turbines in producing electricity. The entrepreneurship class concluded with a business plan competition in which groups of students pitched their unique and personalized product and business plan to the audience.

Several members of the audience were given CSF money to invest in the team of their choice, and the winner was decided by the amount of money invested. The products conceived by the students include a portable handheld printer; Haztag, a GPS device to locate any household or miscellaneous object; a wrist band to replace intrusive diabetes monitors; malleable shoes that harden as they are put on but soften when off for easy storage; a component for portable computer and communications devices to allow for built-in projection; and a mobile app to write essays for you on-the-go.

Please visit the SPISE page for more information about the program, or contact Prof. Cardinal Warde at warde.csf@gmail.com or 1-617-699-1281. The CSF is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization with headquarters in Barbados and representatives in several other Caribbean countries. Key partners in the SPISE are the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and Sagicor. Donations to SPISE can be made here. The cost of sponsorship for each student is US$ 6,000 per student plus airfare.–OnPointPress.net

Annual Caribbean summer STEM program underway in Barbados

Students hard at work with their projects at SPISE.

Students hard at work with their projects during the summer SPISE intensive in Barbados.

Bridgetown, Barbados, July 27: Twenty one students have been participating in the annual month-long STEM summer intensive effective July 19 at the Barbados campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI). The annual Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) is one of the flagship initiatives of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) whose mission is to help harness science and technology for the diversification of the economies of the Caribbean.

Dr Maya Trotz of the Caribbean Science Foundation addresses students.

Dr Maya Trotz of the Caribbean Science Foundation addresses students.

This year the students will demonstrate their hands-on projects, and present their business plans and Mandarin skits at the conclusion of the program in a public forum on August 15. Another key feature of the SPISE is that post-SPISE graduates are assisted by the CSF with their university applications, and have the opportunity to participate in research internships organized by the CSF and Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation (CADSTI).

Students demonstrating their craft.

Students demonstrating their talents.

SPISE is an intensive four-week enrichment residential summer program for Caribbean high-school students who are gifted in STEM, not less than 16 and not more than 18 years of age on July 1, and who are interested in studying and exploring careers in these and related fields. SPISE graduates have been admitted to such prestigious universities as MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Duke and University of the West Indies (UWI). The CSF believes that one or more of these STEM superstars could create the “next Google” in the Caribbean or become the Region’s first Nobel laureate in science.

The governing committee of the Caribbean Research Foundation.

The governing committee of the Caribbean Research Foundation.

SPISE 2014 runs from July 19 to August 16 on the UWI-Barbados campus with 21 students from 11 countries (Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago). The cost of sponsorship is US$6,000 per student plus airfare. All students attend free of charge thanks to generous donations from the 2014 sponsors.

Students from Jamaica participate in the debate team at the Caribbean Science Foundation.

Students from Jamaica participate in the debate team at the Caribbean Science Foundation.

Key partners in the SPISE are UWI-Barbados, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and CADSTI. SPISE is modeled after the well-known and highly successful MITES program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (web.mit.edu/mites), and includes university-level courses in calculus, physics, biochemistry and entrepreneurship taught by eminent academic and industry scientists and engineers from the Caribbean and the U.S.

The CSF is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization with headquarters in Barbados and representatives in several other Caribbean countries. Please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75UUowD7-oM to view a video which captures the real spirit of SPISE. visit http://caribbeanscience.org/projects/spise.php for more information about the SPISE, or contact Prof. Cardinal Warde at warde.csf@gmail.com or 1-617-699-1281. Donations to the CSF can be made at http://caribbeanscience.org/donation.-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