They did not win the top prize, but members of the Zeeburg Secondary School team did not leave the Sagicor Visionaries’ Challenge regional finals in Barbados empty-handed.
The team and its innovative shrimp dryer won the prize for the best project plan and design at the challenge, lending support to the project’s viability as a solution to the pollution caused by the open shrimp drying done next to the school. The prize includes a trophy and US$500 for the school to improve its science programme.
Twelve schools from across the Caribbean and South America competed in the challenge, which called for them to devise a sustainable and innovative solution to a problem facing them in their school/community using Science Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), develop effective, innovative and sustainable solutions to the challenge identified.
The Bishop Martin High School in Belize placed first with its project, titled ‘Coconuts4Life, Eco Park,’ winning US$5,000. Jamaica’s Wolmer’s Boys School, with its project ‘Electro-light, Making Your Electricity Bill Lighter,’ placed second and won US$3,000; while Naparima Girls College, in Trinidad and Tobago, with its project ‘So What Is The Farmer In Your Neighbour-hood,’ was third and won US$1,000.
Vidya Ram, science teacher at the Zeeburg school, said that although her team did not win, team leader Lakshman Ramdat did an excellent job. “Just imagine that of 800 students from 180 entries, 12 students made it to the finals. He is one of the 12; that made us really proud,” she told Stabroek News.
She added that the students and team learnt from the other projects and the interactions with the students from the various countries resulted in them learning about each other’s projects and cultures.
Ram also said that the school is still hoping to have the shrimp drying project implemented and is hoping to engage the fishermen and have them use a small model of their processor until the development of a larger one.
Shrimp drying in Zeeburg has been a concern among the residents, teachers and students of the school and the community over the past year and a half and the standoff between the school community and the fishermen has even reached the level of the regional administration.
The school proposed the construction of a shrimp processor to reduce the adverse environmental effects of shrimp drying being done on the seawall behind the school building, including the stench and the infestation of flies.
Ram also said that the school and team were extremely grateful for the efforts made by the dedicated team at Brass Aluminium and Cast Iron Foundry (BACIF), who helped them to build a smaller processor as the initial one was too big to be transported to Barbados in time.