By Sharmain Grainger
The process of acquiring low-cost treated water was conspicuous among the outstanding
projects on display over the past two days at the Diamond Secondary School, East Bank Demerara, as part of the Ministry of Education’s Region Four Science Fair.
The event, which was held under the theme “Providing solutions for the 21st Century” came as part of the Ministry’s effort to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) among students. Moreover, the students, with support from their teachers, were able to produce intriguing projects which they are convinced can help to not only reduce cost but also help to improve the environment.
For instance, Annandale Secondary showcased a project premised on the purification and distribution of water from an artesian spring. The students are confident that the utilisation of artesian springs could help to improve the quality of tap water in an entire community with the use of precise filtration and chlorination processes.
They highlighted the advantages of such an endeavour, inclusive of significant savings, amounting to in excess of $40,000 monthly for a family of four. This deduction they based on an analysis conducted of a household’s use of drinking water. And according to the students, their project is one that even the Guyana Water Incorporated, could examine with the possibility of implementing it, thereby reducing the cost of providing water to the nation.
But even without strategic tactics to treat water from an artesian well, students of Diamond
Secondary concluded that there could be an even cheaper way of purifying water. They are convinced that the use of sunlight could prove to be not only safe, but also the cheapest form of water purification. They were able to show how this could be possible once some low-cost measures are put in place.
The importance of recycling was also prominently featured. Students were able to create projects detailing how items from broken glass to waste plastic bottles, and even discarded food items, could be put to alternative use in the environment.
Aside from a glass sidewalk held together by glue made from Styrofoam and gasoline and the use of dissected plastic bottles to replace stone in concrete mixture, another innovative project was that of a life-jacket created primarily from polyethylene bags and Styrofoam by students of Plaisance Secondary. They disclosed that with a few modifications they will soon be able to produce a refined version of the life-jacket that is likely to be very appealing to females.
There was also no missing the ambitious hydropower project created by another group of students from Annandale Secondary.
Each project was subjected to thorough inspections by judges who were required to ascertain
the level of input they garnered in the preparation process and the students’ ability to explain their use and importance.
Science Coordinator within the Education Ministry, Mrs Petal Punalall-Jettoo, has on multiple occasions stressed the importance of the STEM educational disciplines. She is among the fervent advocates, within the education sector, seeking to raise awareness about STEM.
According to her, STEM has the potential to help communities and by extension countries “where we can look at what is around us and address them”. However, she cautioned that many times “we as a country feel that our problems should be solved by somebody else. Our history lies as a British colony, so we always felt that it was our mother country to take care of us, but now we are independent, we have to look at the challenges that the world faces and see how we can solve those problems ourselves”.
Punalall-Jettoo further explained that failure on the part of Guyana to embrace STEM has caused it to deny itself of fully embracing the famous ‘bread basket’ label.
“We have not realised that, because it would take science, technology, engineering and mathematics to make our products competitive with those that come from the developed countries, and that is just one area of development,” she stressed.
Moreover, Punalall-Jettoo had said last year that with focus trained on STEM, it is anticipated that within the next five years the Ministry of Education will be in a better position to see more teachers as well as students embracing it.
“I can see down the road, more and more teachers and students will realise the usefulness of STEM as tools for development…It would help them to realise that what was done as an SBA is not just an experiment, but this can be transformed into a project or into a business idea, so these are the useful applications of an initiative that we have started.”
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