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Apr 28, 1998

Hydro company launches Science competition

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The less affluent members of the family of nations, including Belize, are not generally known for their contributions to the advancement of science. But our lack of size and financial resources does not mean we must forever remain in the technological dark ages. Patrick Jones reports on an initiative that aims to put science at the forefront of Belizean education.

The Science teachers who gathered at the Radisson this morning are from high schools countrywide and were on hand for the launch of the first ever Secondary Schools Science Competition. It is being sponsored by the Belize Electric Company, which operates the Hydro plant at Mollejon in the Cayo District. According to BECOL’s Public Relations Officer Silvana Woods, the competition takes the form of science projects.

Silvana Woods, P.R. Officer, BECOL

“Actually the idea BECOL had at the beginning was science. They wanted to do something in the area of science because that’s the area hydro electricity falls under and they wanted to do something for education and so I said great a science quiz. Well all the science teachers, when we checked with them before even advancing with the planning, was wonderful idea but not a quiz, for science. Science is doing subject with hands-on. We need to stimulate the investigative research skills of our students.”

And so the planning committee settled on a science competition. The guidelines are based on international standards for science projects but the topics must be relevant to Belize in order for them to qualify.

Sylvana Woods

“For example, you don’t want a million volcanoes recreated. It’s not enough merely to say investigates what type of soil does habanero plants grows best in. What’s needed is your, the students, input into that investigation, for example do habanero plants grow best near my septic tank, in the soil in my front yard, in the soil near the pig pen? So that kind of relevant interjection on the part of the student is necessary for that project to stand water with other projects.”

The competition is being sponsored by BECOL with the support of the Belize Association of Principals of Secondary Schools. General Manager Kevin Nantz says underwriting the cost of running the competition is BECOL’s way of giving back to the community in which it operates.

Kevin Nantz, General Manager, BECOL

“Our company tries to create in each country that it operates in a program that shows its responsibility to that country. After meetings with the people that we mentioned today, the principals and the other individuals involved in this effort, this was determined to be the most appropriate for the country of Belize.”

Organizers say that so far twenty four of the thirty two high schools in Belize have indicated they will take part in the competition, which starts in September. It is opened to current first form students, who will be in second year when the new school year starts. And the teachers are already looking forward to preparing their students for the competition.

Winsome Arana, Head of Science Department, Wesley College

“I’m quite excited about it. I think it will do a lot for improving the standard of science taught in the schools and also the standard of experiments and science competitions. Presently many schools, including Wesley College, have their own internal science fair but that has not been taken on at a national level until now. So I think it’s timely; it’s necessary.”

Schools get to enter up to three students in the competition. Resource texts were also distributed to the teachers along with the criteria and rules for the competition. The actual competition gets underway in September, and two winners from each of five regions will go on to the national’s the first week of December in Belize City. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

To make the playing field level for all students the rules of the competition state that all equipment and materials used in the projects must be limited to those normally available in Belizean high schools. The winning school and student will each receive a computer and printer.

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