SECME winners recognized

WINNING TEAM – Pictured from left are Ryan Lafleur, Matt Viajar, Gabriel Malabanan, Michael Reckley and Kenneth Leung, the team from Bishop Michael Eldon School (BMES) that placed first in the recent SECME Robotics competition. (PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

Science Engineering Communication and Mathematics Enhancement (SECME) Programme Science Fair  winners were highlighted for their hard work, during a recent press conference at Bishop Michael Eldon School (BMES).

BMES Physics Teacher and Robotics Programme Coordinator Nonito Viajar Jr., revealed that the programme began at the school in 2017 and for the first time, the SECME team represented The Bahamas at the Vex Robotics Competition, where they came in second place that year.

The competition is open to the Eastern United States from New York to Texas and took place June 24-26.

“Around 20 teams competed,” he said.

He furthered that the BMES team placed sixth last year, but this year they placed third.

Viajar Jr., explained that this year the competition was held at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.

“This programme aims to promote the development and improvement of engineering skills of the students, as well as for them to improve their programming skills,” he said.

He added that the robotics competition changes each year and they follow the format of the World Vex Robotics Competition, which he revealed is very expensive.

Here in The Bahamas, the BMES team is supported by SECME Bahamas and the Rotary Club of Lucaya along with the Ministry of Education.

Viajar Jr., furthered that aside from BMES, other schools participating in the programme include – Walter Parker Primary, Jack Hayward Junior High School and Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy.

“Luckily, Bishop Michael Eldon School got the award this year,” he said.

He revealed that BMES had two teams of three in the competition this year and the award-winning team was Legends of Tomorrow, with members Matt Viajar, Gabriel Malabanan and Kenneth Leung.

The second team was Scorpion Warriors.

“These students are really veterans in terms of the engineering club, because I’ve had them since Grade 6,” he said.

Viajar Jr., added that the students were a part of the engineering design club and once they moved onto high school, they participated in several Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Programmes.

BMES Principal Curt Hollingsworth called the achievement exciting, noting that the students and teachers spent countless hours preparing for the competition.

“Their persistence in achieving the goals that they have set is evident,” he said.

He also thanked the community for their support, which includes the Rotary Club of Lucaya.

‘We are eternally grateful to them for the support that they’ve provided over the years,” he added.

BMES Chemistry Teacher and Team Coach Tito Bourne, noted that he was proud of the students’ dedication and hard work, particularly with the way they carried themselves.

Robotics Club President Gabriel Malabanan, shared that the competition experience was amazing.

“Our project was to build a robot in order to accomplish the objective at hand,” he said.

He revealed that they had to build a robot that could shoot balls, hit flags and posts and flip caps and travel up a platform.

Malabanan furthered that they also had to play a total of four games, participate in interviews and the Art of Engineering presentation.

He revealed that it took them six to seven months to complete the robot.

Rotary Club of Lucaya SECME Representative Dennis Knowles, stated that the club served as SECME’s coordinators for several years and recently the programme was institutionalized into the ministry.

“They are doing a fantastic job,” he added.

He also commended Viajar Jr., on his work with the team.

Knowles also took the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Education, SECME, principals, teachers, students and parents for all of the work that they have done and continuing to do with SECME Bahamas Programme.

“We started this about 22 years ago and it has grown and we’ve become more successful,” he said.

Knowles furthered that the programme is also a feeder programme that goes hand-in-hand for their scholarship programme partnership with Kettering University.

“So, students who participate get sort of brownie points for when we send out applications for scholarships to Kettering University,” he said.

He noted that the programme has been remarkable in raising education standards for the students and it has also benefitted principals and teachers.

“Every year now, we’re sending a new teacher to the SECME organization, to their Summer Institute which is like a training centre for STEM,” he said.

Primary School, Junior and High School students on Grand Bahama put their scientific talents on display at the First SECME Northern Bahamas Engineering and Science Fair in the BMES Auditorium, January of this year.

About 20 schools on Grand Bahama were represented at the fair, including BMES, Bartlett Hill Primary School, Eight Mile Rock High School, Freeport Bible Baptist Academy, Freeport Primary School, Hugh Campbell Primary School, Jack Hayward Junior Primary School, Jack Hayward Senior High School, Martin Town Primary School, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy, Maurice Moore Primary School, Sister Mary Patricia Junior High School, St. Georges High School, St. Paul’s Methodist School, Tabernacle Baptist Academy and Walter Parker Primary School.

Partners involved in the fair’s organization were Rotary International, Kettering University, Bahamas Vocational and Technical Institute (BTVI), URCA, Goombayland, Lucaya Shipping and Trading Co. & Ltd, and GIBC Digital.

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