Hundreds of patrons flocked to the grounds of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) on Saturday, as the 2023 Science and Technology Festival culminated.
Arlene Weekes, coordinator of the three-day event, hailed it a success, saying it attracted thousands of people since it opened on Thursday morning.
Weekes, who is the Innovation Officer with the Ministry of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology (MIIST), told Barbados TODAY that the aim of the festival was to further “popularize” and celebrate science and technology.
“We are trying to bring science to the people. We want to popularize science and technology. We want to demystify it and also we want to celebrate science, how it impacts our life because every single thing that we do has a genesis in science,” said Weekes, who said she was already looking forward to the next science and technology festival.
This year’s event, which was held under the theme Innovation for Sustainable Living, provided the opportunity for children and adults to engage and interact with the exhibits, which span several areas of science and technology, including artificial intelligence, agriculture coding and robotics.
There were about 65 exhibitors from nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary learning institutions, as well as representatives from the private and public sectors and non-governmental organisations.
“The response has been phenomenal. We have had thousands of school children pass through over the past two days and today parents are coming back and bringing back the children because they want to interact with the robot some more, they want to do some more coding and hands-on activities,” said Weekes.
“We had a number of hands-on exhibits where the children came and created various things – they made ice cream, slime, bubbles under the tent and interacted with the robots and do coding and robotics. There was also animation, there was the flight simulator in the back and there was Patsy the Bajan avatar,” she reported.
The event, which was a collaboration between the Faculty of Science and Technology at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus and the Department of Science, Research and Innovation in MIIST, was birthed from the then SciTech Expo, which was held up to 2020, but had to stop due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and 2022.
“We are back out and up and running,” Weekes declared, “We changed it because we wanted to bring a different perspective. We are coming into the digital age,” she said.
Exhibitors who spoke with Barbados TODAY said they were pleased with the interest from both children and adults, adding that they were confident the country had a bright future in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.