This October featured the Second Annual Science Fair of Utila, which included students from five schools around the Island and Keys. The idea for the Fair came from Nery Bodden, Director of the Education Board, and came to fruition with the help of BICA, the Iguana Station, and the Ocean Festival. BICA played a pivotal role by providing tables, chairs, banners, boards, a location for the students to conduct their experiments, and judges. The Science Fair involved the community in a unique blend of education, science, and Environmental Protection.
When Nery Bodden was first coming up with the plan for the Science Fair, she was seeking a project that would allow a variety of people the opportunity to learn about various environmental issues. The coordination involved NGO's, school teachers, directors, and students, who together created a wave of environmental awareness on the Island.
The projects that the students completed varied greatly, encompassing many facets of Utila's various wildlife habitats. Each group had a mentor, who gently guided the students through their experiments and took them around the Island for their research. Angela Randazzo, a key activist on the Island, guided two groups of four students tin their projects. The students, many of whom are underprivileged and would otherwise not have these opportunities, got to visit caves, snorkel in the ocean, and learn about their natural surroundings.
"The participants became more aware about the necessity to act in a more responsible way with our environment," Ms. Randazzo said of the Fair. "It was an amazing experience."
The presentations occurred on October 7, with Trish Steffan and Pamela Ortega of BICA judging the competition. The first-place prize went to Stella Thomas, Bresca Avila, Owen Hernandez, and Roquelane Hernandez of the Methodist School for their work on Ocean Acidification. The students' precocious work showcased to the public a desperate need to stop the acidification of the ocean.
The entire community and the environmental movement, which benefited greatly from the event, hopes to be able to continue its success next year with the third Utila Science Fair.