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Bright Ideas From Bright Young Minds

Young college students recently developed creative solutions to community challenges and presented them to an audience of parents, guardians and benefactors.

Students of the FOCUS programme, operated by the Lyford Cay Foundation on the campus of The College of The Bahamas, were the masterminds of two intriguing proposals - one was a landfill and waste management alternative for the city of Nassau and the other was an efficient transportation route based on GIS tracking and map-making to service the students of FOCUS.

Seventh and eighth graders were required to develop new bus routes that the 152 students in the FOCUS programme would use to get from their various residences to the programme site and return home. They were also challenged to develop an ‘app’ that would inform them how far away the bus was and its anticipated arrival time.

“They got the raw addresses and they had to go to the GIS system and actually pin where everybody lived,” Tiffany Saunders, a coach for the seventh and eighth grade Intern Teachers explained. “After they found out where everybody lived, they evaluated it and created five districts based on perimetres; no two buses could be on the eastern side of East Street or western side of East Street.”

She suggested it was all about applying their knowledge and skills to real life challenges.

For FOCUS student Harold Chipman, it was the perfect lesson in teamwork.

“It took a lot of effort and a lot of work,” he said, pleased that his teammates had overcome the challenge.

While the seventh and eighth graders were hard at work on their transportation project, fifth and sixth graders in the programme developed waste management solutions for New Providence. They first conducted research and then built a website to educate the public on matters like types of waste and alternatives to waste management. The site also features an interactive component on “composting for kids.” In the process, the students learnt why the current burning of waste that occurs at the landfill in New Providence is untenable and were educated on environmental sustainability.

“I learnt that it is important not to litter, and it is important not to ocean dump because when you throw trash into the ocean the animals suffer because of it. So, you are not supposed to litter and you are supposed to keep the Bahamas clean,” student Tany’ah Gibson said.

The lessons that the students are learning and the skills they used in their collaborations on the projects are aligned with the objectives of the FOCUS programme. It cultivates critical thinking skills and develops in students the competencies that are necessary to navigate through challenging situations, capabilities that they are sure to need as college and university students.

FOCUS programming continues on Saturdays throughout the school year. The Foundation believes that through this Saturday and summer programming, FOCUS can help students overcome the barriers that can stand in the way of a college education, and set them on a path to college and career success.

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