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Gifted Guyanese science students for UWI programme

Benedict Sukra

The Ministry of Education on Tuesday announced that three outstanding Guyanese students have been accepted to the Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) which is held on the campus of the UWI, Cave Hill, Barbados.

They are Cecil Cox who topped the Caribbean in the Sciences in 2013, Benedict Sukra, and Lawrence Faria

SPISE is a 4-week residential summer program is for Caribbean high-school students who are gifted in science and engineering, and interested in studying and exploring careers in these fields.spise cox

During the four weeks students will be completely immersed (24/7) in university-level calculus, physics, biochemistry, entrepreneurship, Mandarin, one-Caribbean studies, and hands-on projects in robotics and electronics and computer programming. The three young ambassadors will be exposed and coached by role models from the Diaspora and the Region on career paths and choices, and assisted with their university application packages and internship applications to research centers in the Region and abroad. The goal is to help address the low numbers of Caribbean students pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand said that she is proud of the students who were selected, “I am extremely proud of the students who were selected to an academically elite program and who will be ambassadors of Guyana for their stay there.” Minister Manickchand also expressed approval of the continuous development of the Education Sector. “I am pleased that our system has improved so tremendously evidenced by the fact that our Guyanese boys and girls are repeatedly competing internationally and shining,” the minister notes.

spise fariaThis program, along with the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge (SVC) is one of the Caribbean Science Foundation’s (CSF’s) initiatives with the long-term goal of helping to diversify the economies of the Region and raise the standard of living of the people by stimulating more technology-based entrepreneurship within the Region.  Key important partners of the CSF are the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). SPISE is modeled after the well-known and highly successful Minority Introduction to Engineering and ScienceMITES program.

The SPISE environment discourages rote learning, and teaches the students how to focus on understanding and applying the fundamentals to achieve mastery of the material, and thus to be able to solve complex problems. Grades are not emphasized; mastery of the subject is. SPISE is not a summer camp and is not designed for the average student. The value of teamwork (learned in the hands-on projects) is yet another essential skill that is emphasized, along with proactive time-management skills. Last year two Guyanese students participated – Ms. Janelle Codagan and Ms. Vanessa Narine of Queens College.

Applicants must be at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age on July 1, and have completed CXC exams or equivalent in math and science subjects. The program culminates with student project competitions in which each student team first gives an oral presentation of their hands-on project before demonstrating the workings of their project.  These final competitions are open to the public, and sponsors and parents are encouraged to attend and cheer for their students. It is anticipated that students who complete the SPISE will attend some of the best science and engineering universities in the world, and join the next generation of science, engineering and business leaders in academia and industry within the Caribbean.

Cecil Cox, Benedict Sukra, and Lawrence Faria are expected to commence their training on July 19, 2014.