Sci-Tech Adventures In Barbados: Science & Technology Festival 2020
News > The Caribbean
Jelani Payne | Posted on March 26, 2020
Barbados’ 2nd Annual Science & Technology Festival was hosted on March 5-7 by the National Council On Science & Technology (NCST) of the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology (MIST), in partnership with the Faculty of Science & Technology (FST) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus. The theme was “Science and Technology – Gateway To A New Barbados.”
This fun-filled three-day festival was held under large tents at UWI’s Cave Hill Campus. Hundreds of students from primary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions, and the general public, travelled west across the island to see over 40 exhibits.
NCST director Mr. Charles Cyrus noted 44 total exhibitors this year, 30% more than in 2019. He linked the increase to advertisement and marketing via social media, local television channel CBC TV 8, and the Government Information Service (GIS).
Exhibits showcased robots, electric vehicles, renewable energy, virtual & augmented reality, food & plant science, military technology, and UWI Cave Hill faculties such as Medical Science. The interactive displays drew attention to the wealth of adventure and opportunity involved in STEM careers.
Augment It Media showcased augmented reality (AR) interactive mobile apps created for commercial clients such as the Barbados Olympic Association. AR visually overlays digital information on top of the real world. An AR user can see both the virtual and real worlds at the same time. For example, through the lens of a mobile phone camera. Riveting Media Inc., in partnership with Augment It Media, mounted an oversized periodic table – a graphic showing every chemical element on earth, onto a table. Volunteer demonstrators then used a tablet with a custom AR mobile app to trigger AR scenes for each element. Some festival attendees noted this setup as an educational tool that should be placed strategically in schools.
The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH) gave students an opportunity to use its virtual reality (VR) platform designed to train meteorologists within the Caribbean through visualization of weather patterns and phenomena using VR technology. The CIMH continues to expand its training systems by researching using AR technology.
The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) displayed information about their STEM programs like Animation & Game Design and Green Engineering. This gave interested students and parents alike an opportunity to inquire how those programs operate and learn about new programs.
The Ursaline Convent Schools demonstrated computer games designed by students. One game, in particular, was a 5th Form, CXC School-Based Assessment (SBA), in which 30 students each created 1 level for a final game with 30 levels. The students designed this game in 1 hour.
FirstCaribbean International Bank (FCIB) took a multi-pronged approach to its display. Firstly, promoting coding and encouraging students to learn coding via Scratch – a graphical programming language recommended for students aged 5-16. Scratch can be used to teach animation, game design, and storyboarding. Secondly, displaying and testing robot car kits, which FCIB charitably donates to educational institutions via STEM promotions and outreach programs. FCIB identified robotics as the best way to introduce and engage students in science and technology. The kits are assembled into robot cars that use the Raspberry Pi mini-computer and are programmed in the Python language. Thirdly, presenting to festival guests on the basics of cybersecurity, challenges, tips, and advice. This portion of their display aimed to peak curiosity in science and technology by showcasing the diversity of careers in Computer Science. Finally, providing adults a tour of the full suite of FCIB’s internet and mobile banking app features, which give customers total control over their finances. Simple online registration provides customers the comfort of never having to alert the bank of upcoming travel as well as ensuring online transaction safety.
This year’s festival reinforced for attendees the direction in which local and global industries are trending for the future of Barbados and the world – Science and Technology.
Jelani is a Barbadian STEM educator, author, and multidisciplined engineer with 8+ years experience in renewable energy, energy management, manufacturing, marine and HVAC industries. During a career change, he published his first book in 2016. He received an opportunity to teach robotics at a secondary school in 2017 and soon after also began teaching at the Caribbean Science Foundation’s Barbados Junior Robotics (Summer) Camp. Jelani volunteers much of his time to work with students on STEM projects as well as publishing related articles in online and print media. Jelani is a binge reader who is deeply passionate about STEM and business. He also loves how STEM teaches you to think, experiment with and implement concepts.