Guyana Wins Science Competition in Florida

The Ministry of Education wishes to congratulate the students and teachers of the Abram Zuil Secondary School, Essequibo for excelling and copping first place at the recently held Sagicor Visionaries Challenge Regional Competition in Tampa, Florida.

The national winners of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge won the Regional first place with its Rice Husk Particle Board Project. The Guyana delegation led by Athina Indar and the supervising teacher, Jerome Rajpersaud, went on an all expense paid, 7-day STEM Ambassador Programme from July 12 to 18.

The Rice Husk Particle Board Project illustrated how the rice husk particle board can be used as a low cost, durable building material, while reducing the carbon dioxide emissions that result from the burning of the rice husk, an agricultural waste product. Globally, there are several uses for rice husk, however, the project team decided to focus on its use for the manufacture of rice husk particle board as a substitute for wood. Wood is commercially used in the construction industry, which has resulted in deforestation in many parts of the world. While Guyana enjoys a forest cover of over 80%, the loss of forests globally has resulted in the reduced absorption of carbon dioxide which has led to the enhanced greenhouse effect. This project looks at a two-fold solution: by using an agricultural waste product from the rice industry (rice husk) as a substitute for wood; and reducing the dependency on the forest for wood.

The Abram Zuil Secondary School won US$5, 000 for the upgrade of the science programme at the school. Later in the year Sagicor Life Inc. is also expected to visit Guyana to make an official presentation to the school.

The project was judged through a video conference on June 25, 2015 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The students were allowed a four minute presentation and an interactive session with the judges who were stationed in Barbados. The judges were selected from UWI – Cavehill, and CXC through the Caribbean Science Foundation.

Abram Zuil’s project was the National winning project selected from over 63 entries. Guyana hosted the largest national fair in the Region in 2014 with the most entries. The team received a computerised Mobile Science & Technology centre known as the ‘Vernier system’ from the Caribbean Science Foundation, six CXC-approved science kits, a challenge trophy, and certificates.

The other participating countries were Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago and Tampa (Hillsborough County, U.S.A.). Queens College, Barbados came in second position with their project – “The Green Way To Get Styrofoam Away”. This project was inspired by Styrofoam containers and how to not only get rid of them, but gain something else from the product. Using a lime juice concentrate, the students dissolved the containers into a reusable glue. The Bishop Martin Secondary School, Belize placed third with their projects by highlighting the use and benefits found in “Chaya”, a plant which has many healing components and nutrients.

The Sagicor Visionaries Challenge is an annual, regional competition. It is a collaboration between the Caribbean Examination Council and the Caribbean Science Foundation that seeks to boost institutional capacity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in secondary schools and provide students with a practical, hands-on approach to solving some of the problems facing their communities through effective, innovative and sustainable solutions.

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