Caribbean Science Foundation offers CSEC students summer programme

The Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) is seeking 20 Caribbean high-school students who are interested in studying and exploring careers in science and engineering to attend an intensive four-week enrichment residential summer programme. Additional sponsors are also being sought to join in support of the programme.

A release said that SPISE is one of the CSF’s initiatives with the long-term goal of helping to diversify the economies of the Region by stimulating more technology-based entrepreneurship within the Region.

The programme is based at the CSF headquarters, which is located on the Barbados campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).   Key important partners of the SPISE are the UWI Cave Hill Campus, and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).

The annual programme seeks to address the low numbers of Caribbean students pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering, and to groom the next generation of science, engineering technology and business leaders in the Region.

According to the release, students who gain admission to SPISE are among the top scholars in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in the Region.

It said that SPISE was modelled after the well-known and highly successful MITES programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SPISE strives for a balanced class of 50% girls and boys.  SPISE students study university-level calculus, physics, biochemistry, entrepreneurship, Mandarin and humanities.

In addition, they undertake hands-on, experimental innovative projects involving robotics, computer programming and electronics. The humanities course (one Caribbean concept) and foreign language (Mandarin) are designed to sharpen the students’ communication skills and to highlight the global connectedness of the world.

The instructors are university professors and lecturers from the Region and the Diaspora (including MIT).  The students will also be exposed to and coached by role models from the Diaspora and the Region on career paths and choices, and assisted with their applications to universities and to internship opportunities in research centres in the Region and abroad.

The CSF said that SPISE is a learning environment in which students are trained to think critically and to develop analytical and logical problem-solving approaches in several disciplines. Rote learning is discouraged.  Grades, though important, are not emphasized. The focus is on understanding the concepts and fundamental principles in each discipline, and to gain enough mastery to apply these fundamentals to find solutions to complex problems that have not been encountered before.  Students are judged solely on their self-improvement during the programme.

Another essential component of the SPISE experience is teamwork, as the hands-on projects require students to work in groups, and to design and make modules, components and systems that will be exhibited publicly at the end of the programme.

Students will be taught efficient study habits and time-management skills and will have about 5 hours of homework each night. They will be challenged just outside their comfort zone, and are expected to give their best effort.

Teaching Assistants will reside in the dormitories with the students so that course work assistance and general supervision will be available 24/7 to the young students.

This year, approximately 20 students will participate free of charge, owing to generous support from sponsors. SPISE 2014 will run from July 19 to August 16. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age on July 1, 2014, and have completed CSEC exams or equivalent in math and science subjects.  Students from low-income households and girls are encouraged to apply. Application forms are posted on the CSF website at http://caribbeanscience.org/projects/spise.php.

The application deadline for the Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) is March 31, 2014.  Potential applicants are encouraged to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at the website for further details.

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