The energy and excitement of youth took centre stage at the recently concluded 2008 edition of NIHERST's annual Caribbean Youth Science Forum (CYSF). The forum, a highly anticipated educational activity of regional Sixth Form science students, took place during the period Sunday 3rd August to Sunday 10th August 2008.
Bringing together regional youth for an intensive week of dynamic partnerships, teamwork, social interactions, cultural exchanges and interfaces with scientists, CYSF successfully manages to attract the attention and participation of science students from year to year. This year's forum, the seventh since its inception in 1999, hosted 200 plus participants drawn from 28 local secondary schools and a strong contingent of students hailing from Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
As in previous years, the project received the support of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education (MSTTE), The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, and several science-based institutions and companies in Trinidad & Tobago.
At CYSF 2008, participants took part in a debate competition which discussed topics from food security to forensics and lifestyle choices to potable water sources. The teams which were judged the 'best of the best' debaters included regional stars from Jamaica and Guyana, as well as Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive School from Tobago and Sixth Form Government School from Trinidad.
Students had the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of available careers in science through field trips to various scientific and science related institutions. Among the popular field trip destinations were the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago, the Forensic Science Centre and the Water and Sewerage Authority.
A series of lectures throughout the week, delivered by Caribbean and foreign science and technology professionals also provided information on careers in a variety of disciplines such as oncology, engineering, environmental science, nanotechnology, information technology and medical fields.
These lectures were led off by Mr. Luis Pineda, Director of WW Emerging Services & Enablement at IBM Software Services for Lotus (ISSL), who spoke to the students of his work and his experiences in software development, software service strategy and business innovation. Mr. Pineda's visit was fully sponsored by IBM.
A key activity of CYSF is "Socializing with the Scientists", which gives students the opportunity to interact one-on-one with science professionals over dinner. This year, students gained direction on possible career pathways in such areas as chemical research, biomedical engineering, information technology, surgery, engineering, optometry and innovation.
Students enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to network and enjoy time with their peers during Thursday's night cinema lime, Friday's night party, board game sessions, shopping and Saturday's "Caribbean Night", a concert that showcases students' cultural talents.
The forum drew to a close with the staging of the "Forum Olympics" at The University of the West Indies on Sunday 10th August 2008. With lasting friendships formed, young minds excited about science and regional cooperation cemented, NIHERST wishes to thank all contributors to CYSF 2008 and looks forward to the hosting of another successful forum in August 2009.