Jon Samuel, a fourth-grade student at Francis Lettsome Primary School, demonstrates his project “Applying A.I. to identify objects” by holding a picture of a bicycle up to the camera. (Photo: Allison Vaughn)

Instead of going to school last Thursday morning, Jae’lah Halstead went to the Virgin Gorda ferry docks to catch the 7 a.m. boat to Tortola.

Ms. Halstead, an eighth grader at Bregado Flax Educational Centre Secondary Division, was headed for the National Science Fair, and she needed to arrive early to set up her project on soap making.

“I found it really interesting,” she said. “I decided I can be a young entrepreneur and start selling soap on my own.”

Ms. Halstead’s project was one of 199 featured at the annual event, which was revived last year after a 10-year hiatus, according to Education, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sharie de Castro.

Participants at this year’s fair at the Multipurpose Sports Complex included primary and secondary students from public and private schools on all the islands.

“We asked the students to look at the problems that they see in the community and come up with solutions,” Ms. de Castro told the Beacon. “So this year more than last year, the projects were extremely localised, and the young people were able to look around the environment, look around the territory, and see problems and ultimately create projects to be the solution to those problems.”


Jae’lah Halstead, an eighth-grade student at Bregado Flax Educational Centre Secondary Division, presents her soap-making project. (Photo: Allison Vaughn)
Art projects

The projects this year also included art, such as sculptures and paintings.

Neeranjanie Singh, a senior at BFEC, used recyclable materials to sculpt an arm reaching up and holding the earth in its hand. Having made art most of her life, she was glad the event allowed for such submissions.

“It’s really cool, because it gets to showcase that even though it’s a science fair, you can still display science in art as well,” she said.

Ms. Singh took part in last year’s science fair too.

Father’s perspective

Parents were pleased too. Jhon Samuel said his son Jon, a fourth grader at Francis Lettsome Primary School, learned valuable lessons while creating a project that uses artificial intelligence to identify objects.

“From my perspective, I like the idea of introducing my child to a new concept and taking it away from the classical school system where they learn one thing and that’s it,” he said. “So having him learning and understanding and [being] able to explain properly — it speaks tremendously of the potential that he has in learning other things.”

Ms. de Castro said her ministry plans to continue hosting the annual science fair for years to come.

“We look forward to … even more years in the future where we can build from strength to strength and go and develop these projects — and potentially even implement some of them once the business community is able to see the hard work of the students here today,” she said.