A group of eight ENGAGE students and their faculty advisor had the opportunity to make the first trip to Dominica over Spring Break. This trip allowed the students to collect necessary project data to facilitate design and analysis, meet and interact with community members, and experience local culture.
In addition to the progress made with projects on the trip, the students had the opportunity to visit the Soufrière Primary School to teach the students about the importance of clean drinking water. While at the school, ENGAGE students split into three learning stations. At the first station, they demonstrated simple ways to filter dirty water with materials like sand, rocks, and coffee filters. Before pouring water into the filter, the young students were asked whether the water would be clean or dirty when it came out. Unanimously, the students all thought the water would turn out dirtier because it was flowing through sediment. Once the water came out, the students used a turbidity tube to see how the water became significantly cleaner as it left the filter, despite their predictions. At the second station the primary school students were taught about water pH. They used litmus strips to test various water sources and other familiar substances like milk and fruit juice. The children learned that clean water is vital to maintain community health and prevent the spread of waterborne illnesses. The final station demonstrated the use of the LiDAR scanner. The students were able to see how this advanced technology worked and expanded their view of what the different subjects they learned in school could lead to in future careers.
As the teachers learned the capabilities of the LiDAR and the goals of the ENGAGE group, they began to discuss the various projects they wanted to see happen around the primary school. These included a large field with insufficient drainage where the school wanted to add a basketball court and play area. The LiDAR was used to scan the field so that ENGAGE students can design a solution from the classroom and send it back to the school for further analysis. The teachers also discussed the construction of a chicken coop, livestock pins, and garden area to supplement both agricultural and livestock education as well as provide a food source for lunches as many families cannot afford to send lunches to school.
The Spring Break trip was incredibly successful in moving the dedicated class work performed by students to the field and allowed students to connect with communities across Dominica. ENGAGE is excited about the projects currently underway and looks forward to recruiting more students and applying their diverse knowledge to the development cause. In coming semesters, the organization will look to expand its efforts on campus by recruiting students from different colleges and majors, as well as a variety of industry and faculty support to meet the needs of our fast growing list of projects. New recruits will also help diversify the body of knowledge with which our projects operate.