STEM covers science, math, tech during UCCI conference

The University College of the Cayman Islands’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics conference will take place from 17-19 October at the main campus in Grand Cayman. 

Dubbed STEM Carib 2012, the conference is being done in collaboration with the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, the Caribbean Institute of Astronomy, the Cayman Islands Ministry of Education and the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society. 

The first of its kind in the Cayman Islands, STEM Carib 2012 seeks to engage educators, students and professionals in a learning environment about the current trends in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The event will also serve as a venue for experts to share insights and knowledge in the hope of making advances in the territory and region. 

For educators, the conference provides a tremendous opportunity for the Cayman Islands’ teachers to acquire professional development. Cayman International School teacher and STEM committee member Brad Kovach, said, “The list of topics showcases both the challenges we are facing and the successes we are celebrating in STEM education. Additionally, the line-up of guest speakers can serve as prime examples in the battle against the age-old question, “Sir, when will I ever need to know this in real life?”  

The list of speakers and topics covered are diverse and from all areas of expertise, ranging from classroom teachers to astronauts.  

Throughout the three-day conference speakers will be covering the highly important basics such as how to improve the teaching of math, science and technology in the classroom, to where the future lies with Dr. Ed Guinan, Villanova University, talking on the fascinating topic of interstellar travel destinations. Keynote speaker Dr. Shirin Haque, the senior lecturer and astronomer at the Department of Physics St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago, will be addressing how “Science Changed the World Against the Odds”, and the “Value of Science in the Caribbean Society for Critical Thinking and Development”.  

The late United States astronaut Sally Ride will be presenting on a DVD on Wednesday night at 7pm titled, “Reach for the Stars”, while technology expert, George Gobin, from Microsoft, will talk about cloud computing on Thursday. Alternative energy, a hot topic everywhere in the world today, is presented by Mr. Mike Cowdery of Corporate Electric. 

Local speakers, are also well represented. Angela Harris from the Mosquito Research and Control Unit will talk about mosquito research in the Caribbean; Bill Hrudey from UCCI discusses the creation of the observatory; Fred Sambula, director general, Department of Meteorology, talks on Caribbean Hurricanes; while Brian Crichlow, Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture takes on food independence in the Caribbean and its implications for a small country.  

For anyone who does not realise how important math, science and technology are in a student’s education, Mr. Kovach said a recent study by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has estimated that, by 2014, there will be two million new jobs created in the STEM field in the US alone. Additionally, the foundation estimates that 80 per cent of all new jobs created in the next decade will require STEM skills. 

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