Jamaica, and Antigua & Barbuda students dominant at the 2024 Caribbean STEM Olympiads

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“Island Hacks”, an all-girls, platinum-winning team in the Level 2 Computer Coding Olympiad, consisting of Michaela Brown, Jamía Williamson, Kelsey Atkinstall and Kathryn McLean of Campion College, Jamaica. Their project “HospitalFlow” focused on expediting and digitizing the registration process at hospitals.

The Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) held the second annual Caribbean STEM Olympiads (CSO) on January 17 to 21 in a virtual format.

In these Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Olympiads, individuals and teams representing educational institutions, clubs or themselves competed in the (a) Math Olympiad, (b) Computer Coding Olympiad and (c) Robotics Olympiad at three different age levels (12 – 15, 16 – 18 and 19 – 21). The Math Olympiad was held in a Jeopardy-style format and covered topics ranging from consumer arithmetic to vector calculus.

The Computer Coding Olympiad tasked applicants to create apps, games, and websites aimed at solving a challenge faced by Caribbean communities.  The challenges tackled by teams in the 2024 Olympiads included geohazards and climate change, inter and intra country transportation, public health, non-communicable diseases, crime, and money movement and financial education. The Robotics Olympiad tasked applicants with building innovative robots from kits at Level I, and complex robots starting from scratch with a set of random parts at Level III.

A total of 131 students from 11 Caribbean countries registered for the 2024 Olympiads. After the preliminary rounds, 39 teams (83 students) made it to the finals. There were 47 finalists in the Math Olympiad, 22 in the Computer Coding Olympiad, and 14 in the Robotics Olympiad.

Medal certificates and cash prizes of US$ 500, 400, 300 and 200 were awarded to the teams winning platinum, gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively.  The Awards and Closing Ceremony, held on Sunday 21 January 2024, revealed that Jamaica led the medal count with 8 medals, followed by Antigua and Barbuda with 6, Belize with 4, Barbados with 3, Saint Lucia with 2, and Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts & Nevis and Trinidad &Tobago with 1 each.

Regarding the most prestigious medals, Jamaica earned 2 platinum medals.  A team consisting of Chad Wright, Micah Edwards and Sidan-E Walker who attend Campion College, but represented themselves, won the Level 1 Math Olympiad platinum medal, and Michaela Brown, Jamía Williamson, Kelsey Atkinstall and Kathryn McLean, also from Campion College but representing themselves, together won a platinum medal in the Level 2 Computer Coding Olympiad for their public-health focused project, “HospitalFlow.”

From Belize, Giselie Garcia who attends Muffles College High School, but represented herself, won the platinum medal in the Level 1 Computer Coding Olympiad with her hurricane preparedness project titled “Protective Measures”.  Avinda Dhoray, Saiesh Rampersad and Kovid Capildeo from Presentation College Chaguanas in Trinidad and Tobago, together won a platinum medal for stellar performance in the Level 2 Math Olympiad, while a team consisting of Kahlil Phillip, Rochelle Griffith and Tristan Pivotte, former students of T.A Marryshow Community College, Grenada, who are currently on a gap year, earned a platinum medal in the Level 3 Math Olympiad.

Professor Cardinal Warde, the Interim Executive Director of the CSF reported that “the STEM outlook for the Region is very positive.  This year we raised the bar a little higher than it was in the inaugural year (2023) for the Math Olympiad, and I was again impressed by the performance of the medalists.  To further raise the bar for our robotics and coding efforts, starting in April of 2024 the CSF will offer coaching sessions for interested robotics and coding teams to help them prepare for our 2025 Robotics and Computer Coding Olympiads.”

The competing students also had a lot to say.  Platinum medalist, “Team PCC Pi-rates” from Trinidad and Tobago stated, “we would like to thank the CSF for hosting this competition as it helped to develop our analytical and critical thinking skills and we were able to apply everything we learnt in order to achieve success. We look forward to next year’s competition.”

Team Ravens of Jamaica, who won a silver medal in Level 2 Robotics said, “Thank you on behalf of Team Ravens; this experience was truly amazing, and we have learnt a lot from this opportunity to participate!” And then Tejasvarun Kandavel, a 13-year-old student from Guyana who won a bronze medal in the Level I Computer Coding Olympiad said, “I would like to thank the CSF for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Coding Olympiad Finals. I would also like to thank the judges for reviewing my project and giving me feedback on how to improve it.”

The Institutional sponsors included CIBC, Emera Caribbean, Peloton International, Trident Insurance, and TAG software. The Caribbean STEM Olympiads is an initiative of the CSF – a regional non-profit NGO with the mission of assisting with the development and diversification of the economies of the Caribbean Region by promoting STEM education reform and stimulating technology-based entrepreneurship. For more information on the CSF, the Caribbean STEM Olympiads and other programmes run by the CSF, please visit https://caribbeanscience.org.

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