Students from 33 primary and high schools received close to $1 million dollars in prizes at the awards ceremony for the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica's (PCJ) Energy Conservation Incentive Programme for schools.
The programme, which ran throughout the 2011-12 academic year, involved close to 1,000 students and 75 teachers from 50 schools islandwide. Arising out of the programme's lectures, tours and seminars, students were invited to submit entries to the essay, science and poster competitions.
Students who submitted outstanding entries were awarded cash awards and other prizes from the PCJ and its partners including the PetroCaribe Development Fund, PETCOM, Jamaica Public Service, Half Moon Resort and Sandals.
All three competitions challenged the students to address energy issues that are currently impacting various aspects of life in Jamaica. In the essay competition, entrants were asked to tackle topics such as the question of investing in developing renewable energy resources instead of oil and gas exploration; the choice between liquefied natural gas (LNG) or coal for generating electricity; and the development of a sustainable energy mix for Jamaica, based on imports and local resources.
For the science competition, the students were required to develop a project using the theme 'Improving the Lives of our Citizens Through Renewable Energy and/or Energy Efficient Technologies and Products'. And, for the poster competition, the students designed artwork in keeping with the theme 'Energy Conservation - It's a Family Affair'.
Maturity and ingenuity
In recognising the outstanding work of the participants, the PCJ's chairman, Chris Carghill, commended them for the maturity and ingenuity with which they approached their assignments.
"This year, more than any other, the students were asked to apply their creativity and analysis to a number of very critical issues, some of which are currently being tackled by decision makers and experts in the energy sector," he explained.
As part of the PCJ's efforts to develop an energy-conscious population and promote the use of energy-efficient practices as well as conservation, in 2003 the corporation launched its energy conservation incentive programme for schools. The programme engages primary and high-school students through essay, science and poster competitions, educational seminars and guided tours of energy operations throughout Jamaica.