Pushing the value of science

“When we built a scooter, we made a toy – a pastime for fun – but never connected it to our education.”Sweet Dumplings and Saltfish Stew, pg. 21.

Hon. Cardinal Warde, president of the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation, executive director of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), and a professor of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, grew up in Barbados.

He is therefore familiar with the Bajan folklore environment of yesteryear.  Situations where young adults at play rode wooden scooters down sloping roads; made guttaperks and dung heaps; and hopped on and off travelling buses without falling.

Dr Cardinal Warde 

Interestingly, though informal, science educators could make a case – if they so wished – that those pastimes experientially introduced students – and others – to the science and mathematics disciplines.

For example, persons who did not keep running after they hopped off a moving bus or, who did not gradually foot-break their scooter, often stumbled or fell flat on their faces because they disregarded their momentum – a law of science.

Truth be told, many yesteryear folk informally connected Science and Math but maybe did not know it. Now today, many school curricula in the United States of America have an interdisciplinary programme called STEM. In this approach, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are taught together and not separate.

Warde, a Yale graduate — also an inventor of 12 patents and faculty director of a six weeks intensive programme for gifted, underrepresented minority high school seniors – is a leading advocate for the inclusion and promotion of STEM programmes in Caribbean schools.

Last November, Warde made a presentation to media representatives attending the 2016 Mediathon at the Compete Caribbean Conference on Innovation, Science and Technology. At this private sector prosperity and growth get-together at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre, Warde challenged journalists to assist the CSF which sponsors programmes in the Caribbean in the promotion of STEM, if only for mutual benefit:

“We need to create a new population and raise appreciation and awareness of STEM and its applications. As you know, science is still not seen by many students as cool. As governments seek to improve math scores and reform education, we need to help them and push the envelope and make STEM a household name. I believe that journalists have a role to play if governments in the Caribbean region are to reach their national goals. I invite you to step out of your comfort zone and find the job niche that awaits you.” 

According to a CSF press release, STEM this week received another boost when two two-day primary teachers workshops, made possible by grant funding from the Embassy of the United States of America to Jamaica, as well as through the cooperation of the Ministry of Education of Jamaica, will be held at the Genesis Academy, Kingston and the Wexford Hotel, Montego Bay, both in Jamaica.

Hosted jointly the CSF and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS), the goal of the teacher training workshops is to train participants in the use of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) as teaching tools.

Teaching tools include UNESCO-approved micro-science kits which emphasize observation and experimentation, while drawing on the child’s own knowledge.  The goal of using the teaching tools is to introduce the basics of the scientific method, and promote student interest and excitement in science and engineering. Similar workshops were held in Antigua, Barbados and St Vincent.

The CSF, an independent non-profit non-governmental organization, has satellite organizations under an umbrella called the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation (CADSTI) in the United Kingdom and USA. Their primary function is to mine and mobilize resources in the world-wide Caribbean Diaspora in support of the CSF.

New members and contributors are welcome.

EMAIL: weuandi@aol.com.

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