The STEM Caribbean Conference at the University College of the Cayman Islands wrapped up last Friday, 19 October, after a whirlwind two-day schedule of seminars and lectures about science and technology related matters and their implications for the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean.
The conference was attended by specialists and lecturers from near and far and offered regional and international partners the opportunity to pool ideas, as well as impart knowledge.
“The future is in STEM,” said UCCI President Roy Bodden. Mr. Bodden added that with seven billion people on the planet, there is less fuel, less space and less resources in general.
“We have to begin to thing about the future, which is our young people. There was an imbalance I observed when I came here. There was a lack of sciences and I wanted to give that to them and by extension the community,” he continued.
Mr. Bodden acknowledged the many contributions of William Hrudey, a scientist who has been the driving forces behind the school’s new observatory and state-of-the-art telescope and was also immensely instrumental in the conference coming to the Cayman Islands.
Claude Packer, president of the Mico University College and renowned mathematics educator, told the audience on hand on the last day of the conference, “This is just the beginning and STEM is here to stay. It has now become a part of the Caymanian experience and I have been blown away by the success of the two day conference.”
Shirin Haque, an astrophysicist and senior lecturer from the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine), noted that she observed many challenges that had been overcome by the organisers of the conference.
“Most conferences are just on astronomy or one particular topic but this was science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the participation by parents, teachers and students. The science projects done by students have blown everyone away.”
Ed Guinan, an astrophysicist and astronomer at Villanova University, said he loved how things were related things back to your homeland of Cayman, adding that in particular, “The new telescope and observatory will start a new era in the Cayman Islands. It is going to change things.”
Mr. Guinan also praised some of the students from various schools around Grand Cayman, who produced science projects for display at the conference, referring to their work as “college level”.
Students also participated in a competition to name the telescope in the observatory, which was ultimately won by Ella Powery, a 5-year-old girl from the North Side Primary. The telescope will now be known as Pixe Twinkle.
“That name was one that just stood out. Those two words together are just great,” Mr. Hrudey said.
It is envisioned the conference will be taking place again in 2013.