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Testimonial by Clotilde LAVAL, student at Lycée Victor Schoelcher
The 8th edition of SPISE – Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering was held from July 13th to August 11th, 2019. Alongside 20 other Caribbean high school students, I took part in an intensive 4-week program which gathered young STEM–Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics- enthusiasts at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados.
Above all, this experience was extremely rewarding for me, and I had the opportunity to discover and learn so much. I found myself in a stimulating environment, conducive to all forms of learning. Our days were consumed with very busy schedules filled with classes, assignments and a number of projects to be carried out on our own, leaving us with very little free time. I was able to discover new subjects such as computer programming or robotics, which turned out to be really exciting.
It was also 4 weeks spent immersed in another language. It was a good opportunity for me to practice English (which I don’t have the chance to use daily in Martinique): while talking to other students, teachers or teaching assistants, all from English-speaking countries, but also while learning new concepts.
I followed classes in pure mathematics, physics, and biochemistry as well as programming, robotics, entrepreneurship and Caribbean unity. I greatly appreciated the use of this knowledge through various projects. We were given the tools and the basics to enable us to carry out these projects on our own.
After two weeks focused on learning the basics of Python (a programming language), we developed a computer video game in teams. In the entrepreneurship class, we sought to develop an innovative product capable of attracting funding from sponsors with fictitious capital. My team finished third on the market in this simulation. Finally, in robotics, we had to undertake the construction of an aquatic robot capable of collecting balls on the surface and in the depth of water. This was certainly the challenge which required the most time and effort, however, I really liked being introduced to this new discipline.
These group projects required organization and real coordination between each member. We were bound by the same desire to produce a product with which we would be satisfied. I learned how to work better in a team, a skill which I am sure will be absolutely necessary for my journey. Finally, we presented all of our work in entrepreneurship, robotics and programming to an audience before offering a demonstration of our aquatic robots.
We were particularly well supervised by: teachers who were very attentive to all of our questions; as well as teaching assistants, including three MIT(*) students with considerable knowledge and faculties, who were always ready to help us, even late until 2 or 3 am.
(*) MIT : Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In addition to classes and assignments, many workshops were offered to help us better prepare for the years to come: application to university, time management, as well as a series of seminars on different careers in science and engineering. We were fortunate to meet representatives from West Indian, American and Canadian universities who enlightened us on all the procedures.
Moreover, I met other wonderful young people from the Caribbean (from Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Grenada, etc.) who shared the same enthusiasm for sciences with me and with whom I became friends. During these sometimes exhausting weeks, I discovered brilliant and funny people.
The weeks spent at SPISE were particularly demanding, nevertheless, there was a lot to offer. I was able to improve overall and learn so much. At the end of the program, I received the following awards:
– Best progress in Mathematics and Physics
– Best teamwork in robotics
We always had very busy days and it was important to stay as productive as possible and to manage our time properly. In order to successfully complete this program, time management was a skill that I had to learn to master. I remained motivated despite all the work and the desire to maintain a correct sleep.
Clotilde receiving her participation certificate from Professor Cardinal WARDE
SPISE brought me things I could have never expected. I am glad and truly thankful I had the opportunity to participate in such rewarding and pleasant four weeks. This was an experience I will always remember for the knowledge I gained and the people I met there.
I strongly encourage all Martinicans interested in sciences to try the experiment and to participate in the SPISE program.
Finally, I was able to take part in this Caribbean mobility exchange thanks to the INTERREG ELAN initiative financed in by European Funds, the Académie de Martinique and the Collectivité Territoriale de Martinique. I would, therefore, like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Pascal JAN, Rector of the Académie de Martinique, Mr. Alfred MARIE-JEANNE, President of the CTM and Mrs. Ghislaine MOETUS-SCHÜLLER, Project coordinator.
I would also like to thank my teachers and the academic board of Lycée Victor Schoelcher, especially Mrs. Nathalie CANCEL, for their precious help and unfailing support during this wonderful experience.
Welcome by Mrs. Nathalie CANCEL and Mrs. Ghislaine MOETUS-SCHÜLLER at the airport