Log In

Reset Password

Plans to put BHS at leading edge of learning

Bird brain: Katarina Rance 13 of BHS shows off an eagle that balances on its beak thanks to clever positioning of weights in the wings as the school prepares to create a new centre to encourage girls to study technical subjects like science and engineering. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda High School has announced an ambitious campaign that will see the creation of the $10 million BHS Innovation Centre, putting its students at the forefront of Steam learning on the island.

The new facility, expected to be completed within three to five years, responds to a global need to have more girls studying science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics [Steam].

Head of school Linda Parker introduced the campaign to students, parents, stakeholders and alumni yesterday morning as well as dignitaries, including national security minister Jeff Baron, standing in for Premier Michael Dunkley, and shadow education minister Lovitta Foggo. The centre will be a 14,000 sq ft facility with five science labs, including a robotics lab, two computer science labs, a design and creation space, an entrepreneur centre and a digital media library and resource centre.

Furthermore, there will be a Leadership Centre for Girls with a leadership initiative to be piloted at BHS before being opened up to girls across the island.

The arts wing will combine music, drama and visual arts into one building, allowing for better collaboration.

The renovated space will include three new visual arts studios, including ceramics, pottery and digital art, improved music classrooms and practice rooms, a drama studio and a black box theatre. Ms Parker said: “Research indicates that there is a significant increase of jobs in Steam disciplines and we, at BHS, have a responsibility to prepare our students for the jobs of today and the future.

“The skills acquired in each of these disciplines are essential for success in today’s world: critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, resourcefulness, collaboration, and communication along with specific technological expertise.

“By focusing on Steam, leadership development and technology integration, BHS students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to be the innovative leaders of tomorrow, no matter what career path they follow.”

The Innovation Centre will become “the heart of the school” on land donated by Butterfield Bank, in exchange for a scholarship set up at BHS for the children and grandchildren of Butterfield Bank employees. Ms Parker made special mention of Butterfield Bank when she announced the first BHS scholars as Natalie Gazzard, Jasiri Minors and Samaiya Ming.

Mr Baron, apologising on behalf of the Premier who had to be in the House of Assembly, said: “That is what leadership is about — making sacrifices. He really wanted to be here today.”

He added: “I am pleased to extend my support to such an important and worthwhile endeavour. Our young people are truly the future of Bermuda.” He said the centre would help Bermuda to progress its “legacy of innovation”.

Head girls Ava Mayer and Emma O’Donnell took to the stage to explain what the Innovation Centre means for them.

Ms O’Donnell spoke of her enthusiasm for maths and science, saying: “BHS has encouraged me to pursue and develop my interest in these areas to the highest level. Just before Christmas I was ecstatic to find out that I was admitted early into Princeton University to continue my studies in maths and science. Both Ava and I are enthusiastic about this campaign and the opportunities that it provides for students as we believe access to these incredible new facilities in the new Innovation Centre and Arts Wing will allow BHS to remain committed to the Steam subjects.”

Pamela Ferreira, campaign chairwoman, said she and her family had made the biggest donation they had made to any organisation to this project and encouraged those in the community who have not yet done so to donate.

The campaign has already managed to raise $7.1 million towards its goal. Ms Ferreira said: “I am confident that we will surpass our goal.”

After a short film about the campaign, those in attendance were invited to view a number of Steam-related projects that students are already involved with ahead of the full implementation of the programme.

One group of girls has constructed a pendulum wave that shows pendulums of monotonously increasing lengths giving a hypnotic swinging effect while another group explained the physics behind a radiometer that uses light hitting black and white vanes to spin a mill.

There were children, and even teachers, whizzing around on “hoverboards” while one year 10 student, Cerra Simmons, was building a heart-shaped box using a 3D printer.

Students also used the technology for more practical reasons such as designing a handle for trash cans in the school that were getting dirty.

While the centre is still in the making, the students are already benefiting from Steam education with the assistance of the Teaching Institute for Excellence in Stem [Ties] an innovator in school Stem design in the United States. Deputy head at BHS and head of secondary, Catherine Hollingsworth, explained that some of the projects being assigned to the students, including a boatbuilding exercise, helped students in the areas of problem-solving, creativity and collaboration which are central to Steam learning.

•To learn more about Leading the Way Campaign, can visit: www.leadingtheway.bm