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Jun 3, 2019

BHS Hosts First Ever High School Hackathon

A hackathon was held at the Belize Elementary School auditorium this afternoon where six teams comprised of students from first to third forms participated.  They identified a number of national issues and environmental problems, including plastic pollution, and came up with practical solutions using principles of STEM.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano stopped by and has that story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Students of Belize High School, freshmen, sophomores and juniors, participated in a first-of-its-kind event in which computer programmers, software developers, including graphic and interface designers and project managers came together for the 2019 Hackathon.  The idea is to create usable software or hardware with the goal of creating a functioning product.


Jamie Usher

Jamie Usher, Principal, Belize High School

“In the past, we have participated in conferences such as the O.A.S. and Harvard Democracy.  In that is a think tank where kids are put into real life situations as ambassadors to their country, tackling country problem.  Since returning home, we’ve tried to up our STEM education by having them look at truly innovative ways to look at problems in Belize.  So when we go we normally get another country, but the hackathon now allows for us to tackle problems in Belize.  We’ve entered two national hackathons, one hosted by the O.A.S. and we were so excited about what our kids came up with but those were tertiary competitions and so we felt it was high time that we introduced the first ever high school hackathon.”


The idea that one of the six participating groups has come up with seeks to address the growing issue of plastic pollution in our waters.  Irene Hong presented their initiative to audience of students and a panel of judges.


Irene Hong

Irene Hong, 3rd Form Student, BHS

“Our group presented on pollution, more specifically water pollution, because we identified that in a growing country like ours we needed, with tourism as one of our main factors for growing our GDP we needed a solution to help us calm back the pollution that is affecting our tourism.  So because of that we also need to be realistic and create an efficient way for us, our country that we might be able to afford.  So we came up with a hydro filter which is a bucket, bucket-sized with a mesh bag in it where you put it below the water, so it’s a filter and a pump so as water is going into the bucket it is also being pumped back out.  So the mesh bag in the filter will trap all the plastic it collects from the waves, from the currents, so everyday there could be a worker that comes and collects the mesh bag and replaces it.”


What the exercise focuses on is the academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM.  The idea is to address educational policy and curriculum choices to improve competitiveness in science and technology development.


Godfrey Sosa

Godfrey Sosa, Head of Department, Information Technology

“The idea behind the hackathon is that we have national problems that exist within the country but what we’re trying to do here is to get a high school level perspective as to how we could find solutions to these problems.”


Isani Cayetano

“So what are we looking at in terms of the participation of students in the respective teams?”


Godfrey Sosa

“So we have six teams participating for a total of thirty students who actually signed up for this hackathon.  Now if we look at the teams individually, specifically, they’re a mixture of freshman to junior level students, so it’s not only one area or based in one area, for example IT.  So we have business students, we have science students all coming together as a group to see how they could find a solution to that problem.  One of the things that this hackathon is trying to foster is that STEM approach which is kind of the way the world is going, you know, it’s something that we need to get onboard with.”


BHS intends to open up the hackathon competition to other high schools across the country beginning in 2020. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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