Screen_Shot_2014-12-04_at_7.46.31_PMAfter yielding much success through a pilot competition last year, Belize had once again signed up to participate in the region’s most exciting science competition – the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge. The Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and Sagicor Life Inc teamed up in 2012 to launch the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge Competition, which engages secondary school students in the Caribbean to develop problem-solving skills. This year at national level, 32 projects from 28 highschools was entered in the second annual challenge and there is much to be excited about since Orange Walk’s Bishop Martin High School has once again won bragging rights and bested high schools from all across the country. Our newsteam caught up with the defending champions this morning to find out more on their winning entry, Maria Novelo reports……

Maria Novelo – Reporting

This year, 28 participating High Schools were fully engaged in a wide range of competing projects that required sheer innovation, science and technology. 32 projects were entered in the second edition of this highly competitive challenge established by the Caribbean regional insurance company SAGICOR. Among the entrants was Bishop Martin’s project entitled “Chaya Mayan Power for Modern Times.” Team member Emily Manzur says they identified a problem from within their school and found tangible solutions for better health.

Emily Manzur – Team Member, National Challenge Winners

“It has so many health benefits that improve your health functions and it has a list of things that it helps with so we want so bring this across so the school and to the community to start implementing this into their daily diet because this will help them to be more productive and be more healthy and have a healthy life style.”

Maria Novelo – Reporter

“Where did this idea manifest from, I know that your guy were looking at something that was lacking in your school and implemented this idea?”

Emily Manzur – Team Member, National Challenge Winners

“Yes it came from the school and we noticed that many students are lacking nutrients and vitamins and these minerals and this is why they sometimes get sick and they faint or they vomit so we looked at that and we thought that they need something that will help them with their health, that will give them these vitamins and minerals that they need like Chaya.”

While it was a collaborative efforts from the students, teachers and parents, the project was one designed around implementing principles of the STEM disciplines – sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. Science Teacher Wilson Mendoza says while Chaya can be found in abundance around our community, it has been dubbed the forgotten medicinal plant.

Wilson Mendoza – Science Teacher

“We compared it as well to other plants, other nutritional plants that are common but the Chaya stood by far out from the other medicinal plants; it is extremely nutritious and it has so many content that is good for the health and so we are trying to now implement what we found into the school because how we tested it is that the same teacher of the school volunteered to partake in the project so we did a blood testing of the teachers and so we did a pre and a post and we found out that after the study with the Chaya intake that they were consuming there was a drastic change and the two main changes that happened is that on the triglyceride and the cholesterol level of the persons and they drastically declines so that proves to us that Chaya is very nutritious and very good for the health as well.”

While they received bragging rights for the second year in a row as National champs, the team won two categories; best overall project and best innovation.

Wilson Mendoza – Science Teacher

“We know what to be a small school amongst all those giants like for example we had St Catharine’s out there and we had some big schools and we had some 28 projects out there and Bishop Martin won against t27 other high schools it was something that we were all nervous and we didn’t know what to expect but we were very confident on ourselves and we went prepared and we had put a very strong work into this project and so we knew what we were taking and went with a positive mind it is not a win for us for the entire High school.”

The team moves to represent Belize and compete against other countries in region in July of 2015. MN for CTV3 News!

St. Catherine’s Academy from Belize City won the 2nd and 3rd for separate projects. The top three also receive cash prizes and science kits for their schools. One representative from each winning team will travel to Tampa, Florida for the S.T.E.M. Ambassador Programme in July 2015, all expenses paid. Bishop Martin is to represent Belize at the regional competition by online-based judges and receive US$5,000 for first prize for their school if they win.

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