The Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) of the University of Belize (UB) held the 4th Annual FST Science Open Day on November 22, 2017 at the UB Central Campus. The expo involved participation of the FST’s Agricultural Department; Engineering Department; Science Department and the Math, Physics & Information Technology Department. The purpose of the event was to highlight the programs of UB, the work of our students and to get people interested in science from an early age. Students from primary, secondary and tertiary institutions were invited to attend the science fair. Stakeholders and partners from Government and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) also brought out their staff to participate in the event. Students could see firsthand the technology and work available in this field.
The theme for 2017 “Innovate, Experiment and Invest” was prominent as the 20 stakeholders that joined the student booths did not disappoint. The Engineering students showcased architectural models built from “macaroni sticks” during a recent competition in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Building, construction, floor plans and house models developed by students were also on display while others concentrated on the electrical work learned in the classroom.
The Science Department showcased several programs. The Natural Resource Management program showcased GIS technology, maps and models that the students created in their courses while others displayed bioenergy and soil erosion. While students were showcasing very visible threats such as climate change, others went where the naked eye can’t see and into the beautiful world of microbes, amoebas and the less than appreciated world of invertebrates.
The Chemistry and Physics Departments destroyed the idea that science is not fun. Students created a distillery and executed different chemical reactions that resulted in the silver mirror and another group demonstrated electrophoresis, a DNA separation technique. Others appealed to the palate by making ice cream using liquid nitrogen, and the science of other products including yogurt, wine and spirits; and another set created a hologram with coloured shadows. The Environmental Club demonstrated recycling techniques and the Math Club solved an equation that revealed mathematics can be fun. The IT department showcased apps and websites students developed and creations made using Raspberry Pi technology.
The schools who came to learn about what UB had to offer included high schools from the Capital Belmopan, San Ignacio and from the north of the country, Corozal Community College 6th form. Juliane Pasos, the Dean of the FST says it was a very successful event and “it has room for growth. We look forward to making it bigger and better every year. We have received excellent feedback from our stakeholders who participated in the fair. Their booths were inundated with students who came around and asked a lot of relevant questions. Their presence demonstrated to students where science and technology is being applied within the realm.”
For example Wildlife Conservation Society showed students the use of SMART Technology and how its application involving the use of GPS and data can assist the Belize Fisheries Department and the Forest Department to track movement of fishers, what type of catch, and timber extraction throughout the country. These entities can also draw upon the data generated by partner institutions to generate real-time countrywide analysis that would have otherwise been difficult to gather.
Dean Pasos was also particularly honored because, “UB is very proud that a lot of its past students were here working in their capacity; showing that UB is meeting or is instilling demand in the country. Our past students are working in these institutions and schools that were present at the event. This shows that UB is filling the workforce demand.”
UB President Clement Sankat believes in the growth of science and technology as potential for the future of Belize. President Sankat says, “The world around us is driven by Science & Technology and the UB must be a force for training and research in this arena. Our staff and students are doing good work and Belize needs to appreciate the importance of this for its future well being.”