High praise for NorthGate winners at Cubes in Space awards

NorthGate College Form 2 and 3 students, from left, Brian Ripoll, Charise Laveau, Zachary Joel, Chaela Wooding, Shanade Ali, Deron Khelawan, James Mohammed and Arendele Owen celebrate after receiving the Top Design Award in the Cubes in Space global competition in a formal ceremony held at the residence of the Canadian High Commissioner, Fairways, Maraval, on September 26. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER A former NASA astronaut, the Minister of Education and the Canadian High Commissioner were among several high-profile voices to praise Northgate College at the award ceremony for the global Cubes in Space programme.

Cubes in Space is an international contest in which teams of secondary school students compete by developing science, technology, engineering or mathematics-based (STEM) experiments for launch into space. NorthGate College’s T&T-based campus won the top prize for its experiment design.

Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh applauded the school’s students, teachers, principal and parents “for encouraging our students to move into the realm of STEM education”, adding that said STEM was also a strong point of focus for his ministry.

Seventeen NorthGate College students received awards personally handed out by the former US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Dr Robert Crouch at the ceremony, which was hosted at the High Commissioner's residence in Fairways, Maraval on September 26.

“I understand that your design was quite spectacular,” High Commissioner Gérard Latullipe said. “To impress NASA astronauts really speaks volumes about your innovation.”

Each student got a signed lithograph from Crouch, who delivered the keynote address. The NASA scientist said the students’ experiment was “totally unique”. He commended them for doing the “the amount of hard work” needed to research and develop the idea behind the proposal, and lauded their persistence in designing and building the experiment, which was eventually submitted to NASA for space launch.

The experiment, which sought to measure how much electricity is generated by an object moving through the ionosphere, fit into a cube about the size of a baby's fist.

But NorthGate College Director Yolande La Pierre said the real value harvested from the exercise went far beyond the science experiment itself.

“The lasting lesson from Cubes in Space 2014 is the value of helping our children to be critical thinkers and to push past the boundaries of our geographic limitations. These children have become better students and indeed better persons as a result of the hard work, diligence and thoroughness they had to develop to emerge as winners and they did this as a team.”

Robert Sowah, founder of iDoodleSoftware, the Canadian company behind the global contest, congratulated La Pierre and her staff for distinguishing T&T among a field of global competitors, pointing out that NorthGate’s winning submission was “chosen from among hundreds around the world”.

The level of complexity in the experiment made it stand out from every other entry, said Chief Education Officer of idoodleSoftware, Amber Agee Dee-Hart, who founded the Cubes in Space initiative.

Dee-Hart showed the experiment to “several NASA scientists and they were blown away by the complexity of thought, the eloquence with which they spoke in the presentation video that they submitted.”

“It was quite exceptional,” she said.

The Cubes In Space program is a partnership between idoodlesoftware, Rubik Learning Initiative, the Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s RockSat-C program and is supported by the Sounding Rocket Program Office at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Bevil Wooding, speaking on behalf of founder and chairman of NorthGate College Dr Noel Woodroffe, described NorthGate's achievement as "a testament to the potential that exists in all our young people".

"This is also a powerful reminder of the importance of providing our youth with leadership examples and a nurturing, values-based environment to inspire them to achieve their very best,” Wooding said. The prizegiving doubled as the global launch of the 2015 Cubes in Space programme, which targets 11- to 14-year-old students.

The award ceremony was held in conjunction with the launch of BrightPath Foundation’s TechLink, a science and technology education event, held on September 27 at the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies, Valsayn.

Global Cubes in Space to launch in T&T

Students and teachers of NothGate College, St Augustine, Trinidad Fifteen NorthGate College students are to receive awards from the Canadian High Commissioner for the school’s winning entry in the global Cubes in Space programme.

Cubes in Space is a no-cost global design contest in which teams of secondary school students from around the world compete by developing science experiments for launch into space. The T&T-based campus of NorthGate College won the 2014 global prize for experiment design.

Each student will receive an award from Canadian-based Cubes in Space organisers, iDoodlesSoftware, at the special ceremony hosted at the High Commissioner’s residence in Port-of-Spain on September 26.

“It is significant that students from a school in a Caribbean country with no space programme could design an experiment, have that experiment sent into space and win our global contest,” iDoodleSoftware Inc. founder and chief executive Robert Sowah told the Guardian.

The prizegiving will double as the global launch of the 2015 Cubes in Space programme, which targets 11- to 14-year-old students. The ceremony will feature presenters such as US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Dr Roger Crouch, who flew on two US space shuttle missions, and Bevil Wooding, chief knowledge officer of Congress WBN.

"The hope is that more kids from around the world will be taking part in this one as a result of the Caribbean’s and NorthGate College's success," Amber Dee-Hart, coordinator for the Cubes In Space program said in an interview.

The Cubes In Space program is a partnership between idoodlesoftware inc., Rubik Learning Initiative, the Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s RockSat-C program and supported by the Sounding Rocket Program Office at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

The launch is being held in conjunction with the BrightPath Foundation TechLink event, which is being held on September 27 at the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies, Valsayn.


BrightPath Foundation brings TechLink to T&T

BrightPath founder and executive director Bevil Wooding. Photo courtesy: BrightPath Foundation Secondary school teachers and students will be immersed in a day of technology gadgets, spacemen and science experiments when the BrightPath TechLink program comes to T&T on September 27. “TechLink combines hands-on technology training with fun-filled creative activity, wrapped into a values-based learning experience that we believe can benefit participant for life,” BrightPath Foundation executive director Bevil Wooding told T&T Guardian. In the all-day event, students will use tablets, micro-computers, drones and robots to conduct special experiments that reinforce basic principles of science, technology, engineering and math. Since TechLink’s launch in Grenada in November 2013, over 400 persons, including educators, small business entrepreneurs, young people and parents in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Saint Lucia, have taken part in the initiative. But for the T&T edition, there is a twist. Capitalising on the interest in space experiments following NorthGate College’s success in the 2014 Cubes In Space experiment design global contest, TechLink Trinidad will focus on a suite of technology-based science experiments, under the theme “exploration: learning, developing, innovating.” “Together with our collaborative partner iDoodleSoftware, we will be hosting NASA astronaut Dr Roger Crouch in Trinidad for the TechLink event,” Wooding said. “The goal is to produce a context in which education is more engaging and interactive. Participants  will be get to be young explorers for the day. They will split into groups to tackle real-world problems and use technology and science to come up with solutions,” he said. Corporate sponsors include regional broadband-provider Columbus Communications and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice president of sales and marketing at Columbus, said the partnership with BrightPath is part of Columbus’ wider commitment to investing in the communities it serves. “As more affordable high-speed Internet access becomes a reality across the region, Columbus is actively looking for opportunities to help users at every level understand how to make the most of it.” TechLink Trinidad will include an Educators Forum, designed to equip secondary school teachers with know-how and practical tools to use technology in the classroom. “While the students enjoy the chance to go deep into digital content creation, teachers will learn new and better ways to use technology in the nation’s classroom. This is technology meeting the real world. The goal here is to give a real sense of the possibility of technology being applied to Caribbean education," Wooding said. TechLink Trinidad will be held at the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies on September 27.

Bright path to digital careers at TechLink Barbados

BrightPath facilitator Juma Bannister, left, leads eager young participants in a hands-on Digital Photography session at BrightPath's TechLink Barbados workshop, Cave Hill School of Business, June 21. Photo courtesy The BrightPath Foundation.

More than thirty young Barbadians learned basic skills for developing successful mobile apps and producing high-quality digital photography at a special workshop facilitated by the BrightPath Foundation, in collaboration with Columbus Communications.

A mix of small business owners and entrepreneurs assembled at the Cave Hill School of Business for BrightPath's TechLink, a regional technology education program offering training in digital content creation and business development.

Bevil Wooding, executive director of BrightPath Foundation, described TechLink as "practical training in technology related skills to communities across the region.”

“Making the shift from digital consumers to digital producers is important for creating the jobs and businesses of the future. How successfully we build the digital Caribbean of tomorrow depends on how well we build our technical capacity today,” Wooding said.

Facilitators Stephen Lee, Mark Headley and Juma Bannister led the sessions of the one-day workshop.

"What makes TechLink unique is that it really gets participants to see the impact they can have as content creators in whatever medium they choose," Lee said.

Lee, CEO of ArkiTechs Inc, an IT services company, is a Jamaica-born BrightPath volunteer. He led participants through the fundamentals of mobile app development.

His eager young students were visibly and audibly enthused by the opportunity to get hands-on training.

In a nearby room, a group of photography enthusiasts were schooled by another expert volunteer facilitator.  Juma Bannister, a Trinidad-based professional photographer and head of Relate Studios, covered the basics of digital photography and followed up by overseeing an afternoon of practical exercises around the scenic campus venue.

"Photography has always been a wonderful way to tell stories in pictures. Now, with the internet, we can also easily share those picture stories of our region with the world,” Bannister said.

“Initiatives like BrightPath’s TechLink benefit individuals and communities by enabling us to solve our own problems and create our own opportunities. It creates independence, inspiring us to take risks, and encourages global involvement,” said Shelly Ann Hee Chung, Columbus Communications vice president of sales and marketing for the Eastern Caribbean.

Commenting on the collaboration with BrightPath Lee said, “Columbus and BrightPath Foundation are equally committed to developing technology capacity in the Caribbean. Columbus’ support for BrightPath’s pioneering TechLink initiative brings this dream to life.”

The TechLink initiative, launched in Grenada last November, is being rolled out across the Caribbean. The Barbados workshops were held on June 21st. TechLink’s next stop is scheduled to take place on July 12 in St. Lucia.

For more information, visit www.brightpathfoundation.org.

LACNIC honours Wooding with 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award

CAPTION: Bevil Wooding receives the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award while LACNIC Executive Director Raúl Echeberría looks on, at the international LACNIC 21 conference, held from May 4th to 9th in Cancun, Mexico. Photo courtesy: LACNIC

NEWS - The Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) honoured Caribbean-based technology expert and philanthropist Bevil Wooding with its 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wooding, who wears many hats in his work around the world, is the Chief Knowledge Officer at the international non-profit Congress WBN. He received the award at a special ceremony during the international LACNIC 21 conference, on May 8th in Cancun, Mexico.

Since 2009, LACNIC has presented the award to individuals who have a significant impact on the development of the Internet and the information society throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Wooding, an Internet Strategist and Caribbean Outreach Manager for the US-based research non-profit Packet Clearing House, is globally recognised for his tireless work in improving Internet access and resilience, particularly in developing countries.

Raúl Echeberría, executive director of LACNIC, lauded Wooding's work in the areas of improving Internet connectivity and building capacity in the region.

“His selection as the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Awardee was unanimous,” he said.

Echeberría, LACNIC's chief executive from its inception in Uruguay in 2002, singled out Wooding's work in strengthening Internet infrastructure, particularly in supporting the development of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in the Caribbean.

“Wooding has earned the trust and respect of the global community. The community values his dedication, his integrity and his consistency. It is clear his work is his life mission and the region has benefitted enormously as a result.”

He also praised Wooding for his role in designing and spearheading the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s Caribbean ICT Roadshow, which promotes novel uses of technology across all sectors of society.

In the development of technology solutions and educational resources, Wooding’s involvement has been far-reaching. He is a founding member and chair of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), a volunteer group which provides a forum for the technical community to exchange ideas and experiences.

He is also founder and Executive Director of BrightPath Foundation, a non-profit organisation focused on technology education solutions for young people and communities across the world. The foundation provides youth-focused mobile app development and digital training programs. In 2012, BrightPath facilitated the development of the Caribbean Examination Council's first-ever digital media syllabus.

In thanking LACNIC for the award, Wooding said that he felt his work is far from done.

“There remain communities to empower, policies to develop, stakeholders to educate, IXPs to deploy, local content to create, and research to conduct on how the Internet and our actions are impacting our region. My commitment is to continue working and to continue believing in the power of the Internet as a driver for development and as a force for good."

His Technology Matters column appears in the weekly Business Guardian magazine.

Creating Caribbean content: BrightPath, Columbus hold mobile app workshop in Grenada

A new initiative from BrightPath Foundation is taking a radical approach to Caribbean digital content creation. Called TechLink, the new project is already being described as a revolution in community-driven technology-driven education for the region.

On February 1, BrightPath Foundation, in collaboration with its corporate partner Columbus Communications, brought TechLink’s second mobile app development workshop to St George’s, Grenada.

Stephen Lee, technology trainer for the TechLink progam, said what the 20 college-age participants lacked in experience they made up for in enthusiasm.

“Most of the participants, I would say 75 per cent, had little or no prior app development experience. But many were actively pursuing an interest in mobile apps and saw the TechLink workshop as an opportunity to learn more and develop expertise,” he said.

The workshop syllabus included sessions covering the overall app development process, from idea to publishing, and a live walkthrough of Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone development environments. Lee also presented an overview of game development frameworks and did a walkthrough of online app builders: Appery.io and MIT App Inventor 2.

Participants of all levels were directed to online training resources and encouraged to keep developing skills and innovating. Kensuki Morris, a St. George’s University Student who attended, said, “This initiative is awesome. It encourages young people to empower themselves by taking advantage of what is available through broadband and skills. I will definitely attend future sessions.”

This programme focused specifically on youth from local communities. Fifteen participants were return attendees, who were joined by six new participants. They were exposed to a vast amount of information on the development, design, coding and production of mobile applications.

“The workshop is specifically designed to ensure that all participants, regardless of their entry-level, get a solid introduction to mobile app development and leave with a robust set of resources to start their mobile app development journey,” said Bevil Wooding, Founder of BrightPath Foundation.

At the regional launch of TechLink in Grenada on November 30, 2013, more than 100 young people and small business entrepreneurs participated in a full day of workshops. Many walked away energised with new ideas and ways that technology could be used to develop their communities, businesses as well as their career plans.

Gail Purcell, country manager for Columbus Communications Grenada, said, “Since its debut in Grenada, TechLink continues to attract audiences from all sectors--young people, parents, educators, and small and micro-business owners. At Columbus, we are proud to know that our company is associated with such a program that maintains our corporate social responsibility to all our customers, while truly affording our staff who support, and the participants who attend, such a rewarding experience."

Grenada is just the beginning. BrightPath is already partnering with on-the-ground community leaders in St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Montserrat, Wooding said.

“The goal is to see TechLink run in countries across the region from Belize to Suriname, targeting youth, parents, seniors, educators and small business owners,” he said.