Innovation on display at MBCC’s ‘Battle of the Sciences’
By Zaheer E. Clarke
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the Montego Bay Community College (MBCC) held its inaugural ‘Battle of Sciences’ Expo and Competition on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, in commemoration of Science and Technology Month.
The main objectives of the competition were to engender critical thinking among the students, promote a problem-based approach to learning, and to spark innovation and interest in the sciences.
The faculty, which offers Agricultural Science, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography and Physics, among its core science subjects at the CAPE level, had its students from each subject area submit innovative projects and ideas that would solve problems at the college, in their community and the wider world.
Dr. Maureen Nelson, the acting Principal of MBCC, bubbled with pride and surprise at the intense research, scope and relevance of the projects on display. She remarked that at least one of the projects would be implemented forthwith at the college, with several others earmarked for further discussions with stakeholders in the wider society.
Guest Speaker at the function, Mr. O’Neil Nelson, an electrical engineer, spoke to the students about the history of scientific and engineering inventions. He robustly encouraged the students to use the projects they did and the Battle of the Sciences expo as a catalyst to participate in more creative, inventive and cutting-edge solutions that tap into everyday necessities.
The biology group’s Plastic-Paper project looked at the various ways in which polyethylene and other plastics can be recycled as paper for writing, printing and decorative purposes. Hydroelectricity as an alternative to Jamaica’s highly dependent fossil fuel based electricity source was the project the geography group examined. The chemistry group’s Chemical Christmas project looked at producing hydrogen gas as a clean and alternative energy source for use in producing heat and electricity during the Yuletide season.
The Parrotfish Mariculture-Algaculture project, proposed by the environmental science group won two awards, for the most creative project and the Jamaica Public Service third placed trophy. Their project looked at growing commercial parrotfish in saltwater ponds for human consumption, which would prevent depletion of the parrotfishes in the wild, which are essential for coral reef ecosystems.
The agricultural science group won two awards, the Paul Graham Award for the best evidence of scientific research and the Jamaica Public Service second place trophy for their Biodigester-BioVolts project. This project involved converting common biowaste to fuel and electricity, which can be used in the school’s canteen and hospitality food labs for cooking and other purposes.
The overall champion of the inaugural Battle of the Sciences Expo was the all-female Physics student group. They won two awards, for the most relevant project and the National Energy Solutions first place trophy for their Electric Money Saver project. The students evaluated the monthly energy consumption of the college and created a replica of their Physics lab. They showed how motion sensors – they created – can be used to reduce the college’s energy bill by switching on and off the lights, fans and the air conditioning units located in the college’s offices, classrooms and laboratories when not in use.
All of the groups who participated in the competition received complimentary cakes on behalf of MegaMart.
Head of the organizing committee, Mrs. Nichola Beckford-Cameron said, “The dream is not to curtail the ‘Battle of the Sciences’ to Montego Bay Community College. However, the dream is to expand it across Western Jamaica and the entire country with a view to promote problem-based learning and application in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subject areas.”