Puerto Rican students enrolled in public schools Naranjito, Las Piedras and Adjuntas won the top prizes of the “Resuélvelo Boricua” student competition, sponsored by the STEM Education Program, in collaboration with the Response Innovation Lab, both Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust programs.
The competition consisted of preparing prototypes to address four vital areas in response to or recovery from natural or man-made disasters; these included: food security; water; energy; and quality of access to health.
The winning projects and schools were: “Boricuapónico,” by Rubén Rodríguez Figueroa School in Naranjito, which took first place; “Agricultural Literacy,” by the Ramón Power y Giralt School in Las Piedras, which nabbed second place; and “Temperantia” by the Bernandino Cordero Bernard Vocational High School in Adjuntas, which took third place.
Each team will receive cash prizes aimed at the development, commercialization or distribution of their inventions; in addition to support and mentoring in the process by the Response Innovation Lab, an office that is part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, dedicated to the dissemination of solutions designed for community well-being in emergency situations.
The call for the competition took place in December 2019, when about 10 teams registered and submitted proposals in the areas related to food security and energy. The projects were evaluated by an independent committee that considered the essential and innovative aspects of the proposals and videos submitted for consideration.
“It was a real challenge to hold a student competition in the midst of so many atypical situations such as the January 2020 earthquakes and the mandatory closings by COVID-19. However, both the students and their mentor teachers found the necessary motivation to continue until they submitted their projects,” said Jorge Valentine, STEM Education Program Manager.
Meanwhile, Frances Zenon, leader in charge of planning and coordinating the competition, noted the resilience of the Puerto Rican students, saying that “despite the circumstances, our students demonstrated their commitment and quality by working to improve the resources available during emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and pandemics in Puerto Rico.”
Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo said, “we’re more than proud of the potential our students demonstrate on a daily basis, as well as their ability to dream and, with the necessary help, make it happen.”
“We’re committed to the capacity that our young people have to innovate and make Puerto Rico a remarkable center of ideas and possibilities,” she said.