July 17, 2017
The solar car has been built, and St. John's College's (SJC) students are making ready to put their vehicle to the test this week among the 181 high schools scheduled to participate in the 2017 Solar Car Challenge.
The Green Giant's team will be among teams from 36 states, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, driving for four days at the world famous Texas Motor Speedway, which will begin on Wednesday, July 19 at the track in Fort Worth, Texas and ends Saturday, July 22. This year's race will feature a new racing division -- the Electric-Solar Powered Car -- a division that will feature a two-passenger electric car powered by permanent charging stations, bringing "realism" to solar car racing.
The Solar Car Challenge is an educational program designed to help motivate students in science, engineering and alternative energy. Students are taught how to plan, design, engineer, build, race and evaluate roadworthy solar cars.
Teams began their participation in the year-long project during educational workshops in September 2016. Additional workshops, on-site visits, mentor opportunities and camps, helped propel the project to success. After qualifying, teams get the opportunity to drive their solar cars at the speedway.
While a number of sponsors stepped up to help SJC build their Green Lightning entry, in the weeks leading up to the team's departure, Pia Farmer, director at Easy Car Sales, the provider of 100 percent electric vehicles (EVs) in The Bahamas, said her company actively supports the efforts of Fr. Shazz Turnquest, the project lead and physics teacher.
At the school's annual Mardi Gras fair, Easy Car Sales featured the solar-ready Nissan LEAF alongside another innovative car -- SJC displayed the eco-friendly, solar powered car they designed and built to compete in the Solar Car Challenge.
"Easy Car Sales is proud to support our best and brightest students to take up the renewable energy challenge. It's time to change how we think about transportation and move to cleaner, cheaper and stress-free transportation for The Bahamas," said Farmer. "Electric cars are here to stay and can be powered by solar energy today. I have been driving my 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf for almost three years, and I charge it from solar panels at home."
Father Turnquest envisions a Bahamian future in which solar powered vehicles are designed and built by Bahamians.
"We owe it to our young people to help them to realize their potential by introducing them to the technology of the future," said the physics teacher.
His students built a full-sized solar powered car that incorporates the latest technology and design specifications for the race.
The solar car that the SJC team will put into the competition is only allowed to have 250 pounds worth of batteries, which would require a delicate balancing act between the electric motor drawing down from the battery and the solar panel trickle charging the battery. The output the car gets would depend on how the student drives the car. The minimum speed they have to run is 20 to 25 miles per hour.
The students were responsible for designing and building the car from the ground up. They were able to take direction and guidance from their teachers and industry leaders, and are required to market their vehicle to show proficiency in their design methodologies.
The STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based initiative will have numerous benefits for the students participating in the building of the solar powered car, according to Father Turnquest, the project lead and physics teacher.
"In education today, especially in The Bahamas, everything is book-driven. We're trying to embrace a lot of technology in the classrooms, a lot of whiteboards and computers, but there are so many talented children who are falling through the cracks who are excellent with their hands -- they can build things, they can draw things, they create things -- and the curriculum has to be modified to allow for them to also engage ... for them to shine, and for them to feel good about their learning," said Turnquest.
Through the building of their solar powered car Turnquest is hoping the process will teach the students logistics, how to plan a project, how to execute a project, how to work as a team, how to think, and how to problem solve -- things he said that are best learnt by project-based initiatives such as their solar powered car project.
"The program is really beneficial for them because what it does is exposes them to students from all over the United States. It helps them to develop their resumes and opens doors to scholarships for them. College and university scholarship boards are looking for diversity and innovation in the academic career of children -- it's not just academics. They have to be well-rounded."
The students involved in the project include 12th grade Justin Sweeting, the school's head boy, who is also the team leader, and who came up with the design for the car's drag train; as well as Marcinko Arthur, Munir Gharbaran, Richard Hamma and Ralph Sealy.
Eleventh grade team members include two females: Deniel Rolle, who designed the logo for the team's memorabilia and Dwayna Archer, both of whom Turnquest described as "brilliant students". Rounding out the team are Darren Butler, Kevaughn Pratt, Giovannie Embleton, Cephas Pinder, Khyree Rolle, Delton Rolle and Aaron Springer.
"The team is made up of 11th and 12th grade students ... physics and mathematics students who want to be able to have a hands-on experience of physics, and not just a bunch of equations and a bunch of math. They want to be able to actually do something," he said.
The idea of the students building the car with a view to racing in the challenge started with school principal Dr. Nevillene Evans, who Turnquest said shared the vision for St. John's to embrace renewable energy and wanting to find ways for students to work on solar car models.
In 1993, the Winston Solar Car Team launched an education program to provide curriculum materials, on-site visits and workshop opportunities for high schools across the United States. The program, originally a part of The Winston School (Dallas, TX), was designed to motivate students in the sciences, engineering and technology. The end product of each two-year education cycle is the Solar Car Challenge: a closed-track event at the Texas Motor Speedway, or a cross-country race designed to give students an opportunity to display their work. The Winston Solar Education Program has been shared with more than 900 schools in 20 countries.
The first challenge in 1995 attracted 90 schools, leading to nine schools actually building cars for the 1995 race. Three cars qualified to run. The 1997 challenge grew to over 350 schools in five countries. Eight cars qualified to run the 1997 race, a 600-mile cross-country event from Dallas to San Antonio. The 1999 race, a 1,600-mile event from Dallas to Los Angeles, saw eight teams enjoy the fun of high school solar car racing. The 2001 race started in Round Rock, TX at Dell Computers and traveled 1,400-miles to Columbus, Indiana. In 2003, 10 challengers endeavored to race from Round Rock, TX to the Florida Solar Energy Center, Cocoa, FL. The challenge has grown to host 18 solar car teams in 2014 with more teams starting to build cars each year.
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July 17, 2017
The traditional "chalk and talk" teaching method is no longer considered the norm in motivating students to learn. Instead, creative and innovative teaching tools and strategies are now considered the ideal in making lessons more appealing to students, particularly at the primary school level, and specifically in subjects such as mathematics and science.
Exploring fun ways to get students hooked on science and mathematics at early stages of development is critical to students' later development of love for science and math tasks, according to Dr. Patrice Pinder, an expert in research project development, grant writing and K-12 teacher training.
Dr. Pinder says game-based learning in Bahamian schools, particularly at the primary school level, can be employed as a teaching strategy in mathematics and science classrooms in order to improve students' performance in the subjects.
It is with these beliefs that Dr. Pinder created and designed two educational research projects to explore the effects/benefits of game-based learning on primary students' achievement in mathematics and science.
Her research, conducted in Trinidad (southern Caribbean); Atlanta, Georgia; and Baltimore, Maryland (United States), showed positive gains in students' achievement after introducing games into their learning process. There was positive feedback from teachers surveyed, with most educators holding the view that game-based learning can be highly effective in simplifying concepts for primary students, and that game-based learning is an effective strategy for assessing primary students' skills.
Dr. Pinder presented the results of her findings at the Eastern Educational Research Association Conference and the Trinidadian Ministry of Education's Brown Bag Research Session on game-based learning in primary STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction. She has also published a book chapter and two international journal articles that currently inform K-12 educational practices in the United States, Trinidad and other regions.
Project one, entitled "Game-Based Learning in Primary STEM Instruction in Trinidad and Tobago", involved two components -- a teacher training component involved training teachers on effective ways to implement games into their lessons or curriculum content.
The teacher training sessions were held for primary and non-primary school teachers and about 70 school teachers from Trinidad's University Primary School and El Dorado West Secondary School. They were trained in the use of games as educational tools.
"The critical research component, which assessed the benefits or effects to students' achievement and teachers' teaching strategy of using science and math games in lessons/curriculum content, was the key part of the project," said Dr. Pinder.
"The mixed-methods, quantitative plus qualitative elements combined research component, utilized primary school teachers and students. To determine the effectiveness of the use of game-based learning tools and strategy, two evaluations occurred -- student evaluation, an assessment of students' science and math test scores before and after incorporation of games into lessons; and teacher evaluation -- teachers were allowed to complete a survey and to participate in interview sessions, which allowed their perceptions and views on the benefits of game-based learning to be given."
Project two, entitled "Utilizing Instructional Games as an Innovative Tool to Improve Science Learning among Elementary School Students", was conducted in the USA. Similar to the Trinidadian project, the American study also involved a research component, which assessed student level data from test scores and assessed teachers' views and perceptions of game-based learning.
Dr. Pinder said data findings from the American study were similar to that of the Trinidadian study, in that students were found to do better on their science tests after their teachers employed the game-based learning strategy. She also said teachers thought fondly of the use of games in their classes.
Beside her game-based learning research, Dr. Pinder is currently working on another research project that looks at and compares Afro-Caribbean and African immigrant students' performances in STEM in the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom. In conducting this research piece, she is currently posing questions to and revisiting Dr. John Ogbu's (former University of California at Berkeley professor) 20-year-old cultural-ecological theory with an eye on proposing her alternative -- "biological-cultural/genetic-hereditarian-cultural theoretical model" -- as a better theoretical model to effectively explain and account for why some African immigrants are outperforming their Afro-Caribbean peers in STEM disciplines in the UK.
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July 17, 2017
St. Thomas More Primary School sixth grade student Jordan Gibson was awarded the Top Leadership Award at the recent Kiwanis Club's annual K-Kids and Builders Club awards reception. Gibson's school garnered three awards -- the most won by any school in the K-Kids category -- and was given the Club Overall Achievement Award.
Latia Spence, a fifth grade teacher at St. Thomas More, was awarded the K-Kids Top Faculty Advisor Award.
Gibson said being a part of K-Kids is about service to the community and helping to make it a better place.
"I think leadership lives in everyone, no matter their age. Children need support to recognize their potential and become great leaders," said Gibson.
Pamela White-Gaitor, Kiwanis K-Kids advisor, said St. Thomas More Primary School was awarded the Club Overall Achievement Award as a result of the many community service projects they participated in.
"They participated in every competition on the K-Kids calendar, showing up in full force. I look forward to working with them next school year as a new administrative team begins their leadership journey through service with Kiwanis K-Kids."
Leadership is often mistakenly viewed as a solitary task. Many people perceive that there can only be one or a small group of persons who take action and initiate change. In reality, change is community-driven and involves a myriad of people working together and tapping into their individual leadership skills to achieve positive growth and development for all.
Kiwanis Club is a local organization doing its part to provide young people with opportunities to build character, develop leadership and give back to their communities. K-Kids and Builders Clubs are junior branches of the Kiwanis Club. Through these clubs, Kiwanis Club members help young people develop leadership and people skills.
The Kiwanis Club of New Providence sponsors six K-Kids school programs -- Claridge Primary School, Xavier's Lower School, Albury Sayle Primary School, St. Thomas More Primary School, Cleveland Eneas Primary School and George Town Primary School (Exuma). The K-Kids program involves students in grades four through six. Students assume full responsibility for the running of their clubs. Assisted by their teachers and Kiwanis advisors, students conduct weekly meetings during which they plan community service projects. K-Kids projects have included assisting the Salvation Army, promoting healthy eating in schools and visiting the Nazareth Centre.
Builders Club is designed to enhance the skills that students learn at the primary school level (K-Kids). The program is geared toward students in grades seven through nine. The Kiwanis Club of New Providence sponsors seven Builders Clubs -- L.W. Young Junior School, S.C. McPherson Junior School, H.O. Nash Junior School, Jordan Prince William Baptist School, St. Anne's Anglican School, A.F. Adderley Junior School and Anatol Rodgers Junior School.
Research has shown that youth leadership is an important part of youth development. A whitepaper entitled "Youth Development and Leadership" published by The U.S. Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, purports that persons who are given the opportunity to develop leadership skills at a young age are better equipped to make good decisions, set goals and achieve their dreams.
"K-Kids and Builders Clubs are vital to our communities because they help students, at a very young age, to develop skills in service, character education and academic achievement," said White-Gaitor.
2017 K-Kids and Builders Awards recipients
Single Service Award
First place - Xavier's Lower School
Second place - Claridge Primary School
Third place - Progress Academy
First place - Garvin Tynes Primary School
Second place - Cleveland Eneas Primary School
Third place - Progress Academy
Jordan Gibson, St. Thomas More Primary School
Top Faculty Advisor Award
Latia Spence, St. Thomas More Primary School
Club Overall Achievement Award
St. Thomas More Primary School
Builders Club Awards
Single Service Award
Jordan Prince Williams Baptist School
H.O. Nash Secondary School
First place - H.O. Nash Secondary School
Second place - Jordan Prince Williams Baptist School
Third place - Jordan Prince Williams Baptist School
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July 17, 2017
Following a curriculum review, the information technology (IT) department of The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) will now offer a set of new and optimized programs for fall 2017.
The new programs include associate of applied science degrees in network engineering, software engineering and a redesigned information technology management degree. This is in addition to an IT support specialist diploma and an IT entry level certificate program; the latter will also be available online.
The IT entry level certificate can be completed in 40 weeks online, or within a semester on campus. It offers the essentials for a student with at least three Bahamas Junior Certificates (BJCs) to jumpstart a career in information technology. Further, it is a springboard into the institution's diploma and associate's degree programs.
Anthony Ramtulla, chair of BTVI's IT program, said offering the online program is proof that the institute is changing with technology.
"Every single piece of this program you will be able to do in the cloud. We're on the 'bleeding edge' -- not even on the cutting edge -- when it comes to our education," said Ramtulla.
"A lot of the things we do at BTVI require that students be in the lab learning by experience. However, some of our programs, especially at the early stages, are more cognitive, and we have technology where we can simulate the labs in the cloud, so you don't have to leave home," he said.
As IT programs are in demand, Ramtulla said BTVI allows for students to also acquire international certifications from Microsoft, CompTIA or Cisco.
Software engineering program students will sit exams for the Oracle Certified Associate and Oracle Certified Professional certificates. Network engineering students seek their Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certifications, while IT management students leave with their CompTIA Project+, A+, Network+, Linux+ and Security+ certifications.
"It is proof our courses are industry validated," boasted Ramtulla.
The chair of BTVI's IT program said its IT degree students will soon be on a path to a bachelor's degree in just three years, which will be made possible through an agreement with the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT), Rhode Island, USA.
"Our IT program has been optimized to allow for easier transition to universities and colleges abroad. With our agreement with New England Tech, once you are in our IT associate's degree program, you can do one year here and two years there to complete your bachelor's degree; or two years here and one year there and complete your bachelor's degree in three years," said Ramtulla.
"One of the reasons we can do that is because of the quality of our IT programs. Our students, when they go to Fanshawe College in Canada, for example, they are A students. They are not just the average students. They perform well."
IT student Dion Mackey is presently at Fanshawe College in Canada as an
exchange student on an Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarship. Following his two-semester stint, he is expected to return to BTVI to complete his degree. He lauded BTVI's IT program as the way forward.
"Information technology is always evolving. It's not stagnant. There is always something to learn. It is such a diverse field," he said. "I [got] so much from the IT program at BTVI. The certifications opens doors and prepares you for jobs in the IT field."
BTVI 2016 graduate Gerrard Russell had the same opportunity to study abroad at Fanshawe College. He returned to Canada in August 2016 and is now studying toward completing a bachelor's degree. Gerrard spoke highly of Ramtulla, whom he said inspired him to go beyond the ordinary.
"He kicked me into gear. He motivated me to be better than average. I have never met anyone like him. At BTVI, it's not the old desk and book system. It's more of an exploration of learning," he said.
Ramtulla said that BTVI's IT department is simply fulfilling the institute's mandate to help build the workforce for The Bahamas and noted that several graduates are presently employed in the IT industry.
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July 17, 2017
An additional 700 Bahamians are now BahamaHost Certified after successfully completing the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation's signature training program.
BahamaHost saw its largest number of graduates to date, and Ian Ferguson, director of industry training at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, said his department went above and beyond to ensure that the program made an even bigger impact this year.
"I gave the mandate to increase our graduating numbers by no less than 20 percent. We have exceeded that number by at least 10 percent. If we continue to merely touch the surface of professionals in the industry then the small rippling waves that we create really fall short of the tsunami effect that we really need. We are well on our way," said Ferguson.
Participants from the BahamaHost's Community program were also among the graduates. The program included the Centreville, Englerston, Bains and Grants Town, Pinewood Gardens and Fox Hill communities.
"Last year, the industry training department launched the first ever Community BahamaHost program, which targeted unemployed youth in the inner-city communities with an aim to empowering them. We partnered with various public and private agencies to provide relevant training, including first aid certification, Microsoft Office training, health and wellness, financial empowerment, entrepreneurship, our usual tourism related topics, of course, and many other modules."
The Family Islands were not left out. Ferguson said that dozens of Bahamians throughout The Islands of The Bahamas are benefitting from the program this year.
"Our Family Islands team has been diligent in covering the islands of The Bahamas with training programs: six sessions on the island of Eleuthera alone, one on Exuma, two sessions on Abaco and more planned for the remainder of the islands. We're committed to ensuring that service levels remain high on all our Family Islands."
The Grand Bahama team celebrated 414 graduates on July 13, as it successfully completed 16 general sessions on that island.
"Additionally, they have completed a total of four recertification sessions, with nearly 80 industry professionals refreshing their service skills," he said.
During the graduation ceremony held at The William Thompson Auditorium, Travis Robinson, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, reminded the graduates of the integral role they play in the tourism industry.
"The tourism industry is dependent on every single one of you. This country is dependent on every single one of you. We can celebrate our tourism numbers thanks to you, but one thing you would have learned is that there is room for improvement, and that improvement starts with every single one of us. You represent The Bahamas' brand. You represent a trademark," said Robinson.
Sheryl Gaitor, a BahamaHost graduate, said she went into the program thinking it was simply a refresher course on what she learned many years ago, but she said it exceeded her expectations.
"It was a transformative experience. When I got in the class, I learned so much more and it developed a hunger for me to learn more about my country. It also drove me to push and encourage others, because sitting in those classes, it opens your eyes and gives you a greater appreciation for the contribution you make as a citizen to your country in the development of your country," she said.
As an entrepreneur in the tourism industry, graduate Brent Ferguson was mandated to do the course; he said he had no expectations.
"I did it because it was a requirement to open a franchise. I got a wealth of information. Some of it was taught during high school, but not as much Bahamian history or diversifying the Bahamian product, skills needed to market oneself. I got a wealth of information from doing this course. I will definitely recommend and do it again," he said.
The BahamaHost program is a certified course designed to establish a culture of service excellence and professionalism which ultimately results in delightful guest experiences, repeat business and global recognition. This program is a training initiative designed to improve the efficiency of organizations and service professionals in the tourism sector.
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July 17, 2017
Christina Davis, Megan Curry, Jatequa Bain, Robert Adams, Leif Farquharson and John Minns comprised the team that represented Graham Thompson and won the recent Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Bahamas Branch and the Commercial and Financial Services Clinic of the Eugene Dupuch Law School (CFS Clinic) moot involving issues related to the law of trusts and estate planning.
Davis, an associate and advocate; Curry, a law student and student advocate; Jatequa Bain, a law student and research assistant; Adams, partner, Farquharson, partner; and Minns, partner, tackled issues that were derived from a moot question prepared by Sean McWeeney, QC, partner of Graham Thompson, which involved a dispute between three parties with competing claims to assets held in a bank account over which the settlor had declared a trust for his wife and children for him to distribute to any or all of them, on his discretion, during his lifetime.
The moot was an amalgamation of the annual STEP Moot and the International Commercial and Financial Services Law Moot of the CFS Clinic. The moot celebrated and highlighted the local young legal talent which represent the vibrant future of the financial services industry and also exposed the participating CFS Clinic students to training by experts in the industry and provided them with an invaluable mentorship experience.
The Higgs & Johnson team was a close second, followed by the McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes team. Theo Burrows, associate and advocate; Fania Joseph, law student and student advocate; and Jayel Gibson, law student and research assistant, represented Higgs & Johnson.
Krysta Moxey, associate and advocate; Erin Turnquest, associate and research assistant; and Berchel Wilson, law student and student advocate, represented McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes.
Each team comprised junior attorneys (under seven years of call) from the participating firms, and Eugene Dupuch Law School students enrolled in the CFS Clinic.
Three of the major law firms in The Bahamas represented the parties -- Higgs & Johnson, STEP 2012 Moot winner; Graham Thompson; and McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes, STEP 2010 Moot winner.
Justice Ganpatsingh, consultant, Lennox Paton; Justice K, Neville Adderley, justice of the Court of Appeal of the Turks and Caicos Islands and retired Justice of the Court of Appeal of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; and Thomas Evans, QC, partner, Evans & Co. comprised the judging panel.
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July 17, 2017
The staff of Burger King (Carmichael Road) prepared more than 200 meals for the kids of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Southwestern Division Summer Youth Camp, held at Garvin Tynes Primary School. The camp provides youth with meaningful lessons and experiences through fostering a positive relationship with local law enforcement. The camp also teaches campers how to resist the influences of pressing societal issues, such as violence, youth crime and more, over the course of six weeks during the summer season.
As a cornerstone of helping to create a more positive future for the youth of The Bahamas, the team at the Burger King Carmichael Road location was happy to support the Royal Bahamas Police Force and contribute to its efforts to create positive avenues for the country's youth in the Carmichael Road community.
"It took a small request and our team was happy to render support to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, as it was an immediate way to help our community," said Mario Cash, director of operations at Burger King Nassau. "The Burger King brand is not only keen on providing great tasting food and service, but also the positive role we play in the community we serve. We salute law enforcement for this great endeavor and we're happy to have had the opportunity to give back to the kids in our community."
Burger King Nassau looks to continue to invest itself in the local community through initiatives that provide positivity and support, and which uplift those in need in a number of areas, including nonprofits, education, youth development and more.
"As always, we continue to stay focused on our local community and partner with those who strive with programs and initiatives that positively and directly impact the quality of life for those we serve throughout Nassau," said Cash.
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Commonwealth Bank donates $50,000 to UB for Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program, bringing total to $350,000
July 13, 2017
Calling the need for well-educated, agile leaders with strong communications skills essential in an increasingly global world, Commonwealth Bank boosted its support of its Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program at the University of The Bahamas this week with a donation of $50,000...
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July 12, 2017
Pink eye is one of the most common and treatable eye conditions in children and adults; about 3 million cases of pink eye occur in the United States each year. Treatment is not always needed and the course of treatment depends on the underlying cause.
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Eugene Dupuch Law School and the Coordinator of the Law School's Commercial and Financial Services and Financial Services Law Clinic (Clinic).
July 04, 2017
On April 6 2017 the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Bahamas Branch and the Commercial & Financial Services Clinic of the Eugene Dupuch Law School (CFS Clinic) hosted a Moot involving issues related to the law of trusts and estate planning...
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July 04, 2017
Following a recent curriculum review, the Information Technology (IT) department of The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) will now be offering a set of new and optimized programs come fall 2017...
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July 04, 2017
Over the years, Bahamian Art & Culture has featured the work of innovative inter-disciplinary artist Anina Major, who primarily works with clay. She studied at The College of The Bahamas, earned a Bachelors Degree in Graphic Design from Drexel University and has recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design’s MFA Ceramics programme. We are honoured to feature her most recent body of work that was created specifically for her graduate thesis. It is entitled “In The Marketplace” (2017).
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July 03, 2017
Easy Car Sales, the first and only provider of 100% Electric Vehicles (EVs) in The Bahamas, featured the solar-ready Nissan LEAF in this year’s Saint John’s College Mardi Gras Fair alongside another innovative car...
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July 03, 2017
A team of six students from St. Augustine's College (SAC) will comprise one of the 163 participating teams from 157 nations and six continental representatives at the FIRST Global Challenge.
Perdawn Taylor, Jared Nurse, Frankiesha Wright, Nia Strachan, Mateus Goncalves and Leyhanessa Rolle, led by computer studies teacher/mentor Dauran McNeil, have spent the last three months using STEM (science, technology, engineering and math technology) in building, breaking down and rebuilding a robot they will present to compete in the world's first high school level Robot Olympics in Washington, D.C. July 16-18.
The FIRST Global Challenge is an annual robotics competition, which, each year, focuses on a different issue of global importance. The competition takes place in a different nation each year, and the theme is drawn from one of the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering identified by the United States (U.S.) National Academy of Engineering.
SAC's team is participating in a year when the theme's focus is on access to clean water. They will compete in randomly assigned three-team alliances during each round of play. Individual games will have two alliances facing each other at a time, for a total of six teams on the field. Teams will need to remove contaminant particles from a simulated river, a task that is best accomplished if robots within an alliance work together.
McNeil said the team members are confident in the countdown to the competition; they believe the robot they've built is up to the task at hand. In the final days before they head into the competition, they are working to improve their robot's efficiency.
"We need it to move more freely, more efficiently and faster, to actually go and collect the contaminants. The team is working right now at programming the robot to work more efficiently."
The more contaminants a robot collects, the more points a team receives.
FIRST Global teams were each provided with a self-contained, educational robotics kit that includes all needed mechanical, electrical and software components. The build set is designed to be usable by both engineer and experienced teams.
The equipment is divided into a "build component" and a "programming component". The build component includes materials like brackets, extrusions, fastening hardware, hardware adaptors, bearings, wheels of different sizes, gears, pulleys, motors, servos and sprockets. All parts can be fastened together with parts inside the kit and do not require additional connective materials.
Some of the programming component options include Android Studio suite (which allows
coding in Java), along with a visual programming block language that is for beginners.
FIRST Global's mission is to inspire science and technology leadership and innovation in young people from all nations in order to increase understanding, instill the importance of cooperation, address the world's most pressing issues and improve the quality of life for all. By showing the youth of the world that if they communicate, cooperate and work together -- even in a competition -- using the tools of science and engineering to find solutions to the world's greatest challenges, they will be able to accomplish great things and become part of a truly global community.
McNeil hopes the SAC students -- who are members of the school's computer science club, Google CS (computer science) First Club, which encourages and fosters passion for computer science -- return from the competition with heightened critical thinking skills.
"I want them to get exposure in computer science, because that's really important in today's society. We have a lot of young people who are interested in the technology application, but you rarely see students who are interested in actually inventing technology. So what I actually hope they can get is to be critical thinkers in solving even our country's problems through technology, and whether that's innovation, whether that's making technology, or making applications like we're looking at here... a robot to basically solve a problem."
The SAC team built a robot of 20"x 20" dimensions to solve their water problem.
Along with providing access to clean water, the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering, as identified by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, are: advancing personalized learning, making solar energy economical, enhancing virtual reality, reverse-engineering the brain, engineering better medicines, advancing health informatics, restoring and improving urban infrastructure, securing cyberspace, providing energy from fusion, preventing nuclear terror, managing the nitrogen cycle, developing sequestration methods and engineering the tools of scientific discovery.
Teams were able to begin building their robots after the robot kits were shipped in the first two weeks of March. They can continue to build all the way until they arrive in Washington, D.C. for the competition.
Teams will check in on July 14, with robot inspections taking place on July 15. Practice rounds will be held on July 15 and 16. The first two days of FIRST Global gameplay are July 17-18, with awards handed out on July 18.
McNeil said he was happy the team is able to represent their school and carry the Bahamian flag high at the upcoming competition.
"I'm glad that these students, who have a passion for computer science, can get this type of exposure, because we will be competing against first world countries that have robotics as a subject, whereas we're doing this basically in our spare time after school."
SAC is fielding a six-person squad at the competition. Each team must have between three and seven students, ages 15 to 18, along with one adult technical mentor/coach for the competition. There is no limit on the number of team members or adult technical mentors/coaches who can work on the robot at home.
The International FIRST Committee Association (FIRST Global) was founded by philanthropic investor Dean Kamen and is headed by former U.S. Navy Admiral and Congressman Joe Sestak.
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July 03, 2017
While many children are enjoying the freedom that comes with summer break, and others are sulkily forced into summer school, one teenager is actually looking forward to going into the classroom this summer. Fourteen-year-old Jaria Strachan, a student at Kingsway Academy, who will be entering 11th grade in the new academic year, will spend one week at Johnson and Wales University's (JWU) North Miami Campus in their Career Explorations program.
Strachan will be able to avail herself of the opportunity through Chef Jamall Petty, proprietor of Island Flare Cooking School, with whom she has worked since she was 12. He hosted a special Game of Thrones-themed pop-up dinner recently, from which funds went toward getting Strachan into the Career Explorations program.
JWU's Career Exploration program allows students to explore a variety of careers in the fields of culinary arts, baking and pastry arts or hospitality at the campus of their choice -- North Miami; Providence, Rhode Island; Denver, Colorado; or Charlotte, North Carolina.
JWU North Miami features career exploration opportunities in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts.
Strachan will be able to participate in the culinary arts four-day class in which participants learn about stocks, sauces and dry and moist cooking methods. They can sharpen their knife skills and get an introduction to baking and pastry. After four days of classes, the program concludes with an "around the world" experience showcasing their work to parents and guests.
In the baking and pastry exploration, participants explore careers in the baking and pastry industry at the university's international baking and pastry institute. In this hands-on laboratory class, they learn to produce pastries and plated desserts under the direction of world-class pastry chefs.
"When I met Jaria, I met her as somebody who sought me out because she wanted to learn more about being a chef and how to cook. That was about two-and-a-half years ago. She enrolled in Island Flare's cooking classes, and every time I turned around, she was volunteering for stuff culinary related. She gives her own time and even works along with other chefs, not expecting anything other than to gain insight and knowledge. I think that it was very clear that she is passionate about food and that, that is what she wants. I figured that this would be a wonderful way to help Jaria on one hand, help to refine what her focus is going to be, and encourage her in a way to realize there are people who would be willing to help her develop her skills and talents as long as she commits herself to them," said Petty.
"We've already determined her career will be in culinary, so now what this does is take her through a bunch of the different disciplines in different kitchens, doing different styles of cuisine, ranging from gastronomy to pastry to international cuisine to garde manger and even front of the house with wine. It kind of gives her an opportunity to experience being in the kitchen in these different areas so that she can make a decision as to which one of the paths in culinary she wants to take," said Petty.
The cost of the program as well as airfare will be fully funded.
She was humbled by the surprise experience and is looking forward to it. She will leave for JWU on July 22.
"I really enjoy the whole kitchen, but I'm hoping the experience will steer me in the right direction and knowing which part of the kitchen I want to really be in," she said.
Strachan said she became interested in culinary arts as a child and would pull up a stool to watch her grandmother, Nellie McPhee, as she cooked, and even "helped with the pot".
She thanked Petty for the opportunity he's afforded her; she hopes to take away the best things from the experience, bringing them back to him as she continues to work with him.
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