San Pedro High School introduces their two teams for Sagicor challenge

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Every year, secondary school students from across the country are challenged with the creative test to come up with original scientific solutions for common problems affecting their communities. Known as Sagicor Visionary Challenge, the test brings students together in an annual national competition featuring their talents. From the many projects seen in previous challenges, it is safe to say that Belize has the potential of producing great scientists and inventors in the near future. As many teachers at the San Pedro High School (SPHS) can confirm, this is the thought as the school prepares two teams to represent Ambergris Caye in this year’s challenge.

Team One

Team One

The competition is a collaboration of the Caribbean Science Foundation, Sagicor (a Caribbean insurance company) and the Caribbean Examinations Council. The visionary challenge is held across countries in the Caribbean including Belize. National competitions are held in each country and the winning team advances to the regional competition, usually held in a Caribbean country.
The two teams hailing from SPHS are Aloe Plant in Success (APS), and Papaya Power. They are focusing on producing consumable products for the community, and whose by-products will not have any impact on the environment. According to Ricardo Sedacy, Head of the Science and Math Department, and teacher Shakira Coleman, after extensive research, both teams from the school have come up with ideas to create products from the natural resources they have in their own backyard. They added that the projects were developed using the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) method. Sedacy and Coleman, who will be overseeing and assisting the students, are very confident in the groups’ performance this year.
Team APS consists of seven members, and they will be using the many benefits of the aloe plant to create products that would alleviate illnesses issues related with the skin and stomach. “There are many problems on the island, and from among all the issues we have noticed the most common one is stomach illnesses. The idea is to create beverages, and meal products such as bread puddings with essences of aloe plant,” said Bruce Garbutt one of the group’s member. He continued explaining that the aloe contains many minerals that can rid the stomach and intestines of any toxins that might be present. “We need to add more natural and healthy foods to our diets. If you visit any shop, you will notice a lot of processed foods which are not good for the body. This was another of the reasons why we thought about exploiting the uses of the aloe plant and let everyone know the benefits of consuming it,” he said.
Additionally, they plan to produce a paste or cream which will replace the use of chemically manufactured sun screens. Since we live on an island, skin conditions can arise from the daily exposure we receive from the sun. The natural elements of this plant can supply the skin with the vitamins and healing agents it needs to always look smooth and healthy, says the group.

Team Two

Team Two

The five -member group Papaya Power is using the papaya plant, known for its succulent fruit. Jennessa Sierra, one of the group members, indicated that the high cost of medical care has led them to the idea of creating products from this plant in order to provide natural, low- cost medicinal products. “The papaya fruit and its seeds have many healing properties that people may not know of. Our project will include teas, beverages made of papaya for the nourishment of the body. It will not be the usual shake that you can make at home, this will be more pure and natural since we will not use any other sugars or foreign substances other than just the papaya,” said Sierra.
“We are also focusing on producing soaps from the Papaya,” she continued. “This will combine just the fruits with its seeds and the final product will be safe to use. It is known that this product is very effective in combating acne, cleaning the skin, treating skin cancer and also revitalizing and strengthening the hair.” Sierra also mentioned that the leaves of the papaya tree have healing properties when it comes to treating Dengue. The leaves are boiled and then made into a paste. Some of the paste is then mixed with some water and by drinking small quantities throughout the day, does effectively treats the disease.
Both groups have decided to use the simplest of things in order to create natural and economical products. They added that the ideas to create these products is not just for the challenge, but their actual vision is to make it available to the community in an effort to start promoting the idea of local natural products.
Both of these projects will be presented at the National Sagicor Visionary Challenge to be held on Wednesday, March 16th at the Ramada Princess Hotel and Casino in Belize City. Any member of the community that is willing to assist the group in their preparations for the competition can contact Ricardo Sedacy at 604-3738 or via email at [email protected] The high school can be directly contacted at 226-4045.
To learn more on the Sagicor Visionary Challenge, visit www.sagicorvisionaries.com

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