The Science Whizz Competition is staged annually by the NIHERST/NGC National Science Centre with the aim of encouraging the public, and students in particular, to become more interested in science. The competition also seeks to develop skills in comprehension, presentation and showmanship.
The early format of the competition invited contestants in two age groups (12-16 and 17 years and over) to make a 7-10 minute presentation to demonstrate a scientific or mathematical principle in a fun and exciting way. Contestants were judged on originality, scientific/mathematical content, presentation (explanations and demonstrations), rapport with audience, and showmanship.
Over the 10 years of its staging, contestants have tackled a host of concepts. They include the square of numbers, magnetism, Newton's Laws of Motion, the functions of the various parts of the brain, surface tension, the necessary ingredients for fire, the melting point of ice, aquaculture, and emulsions. Some contestants have taken their performances to the wider national audience in the spin-off "Sci-Whizz" television series produced by NIHERST's Science Communication Unit from 2004 to 2007.
The Science Whizz Competition has attracted 919 entrants from 1998 to 2007. The number of participants has increased steadily and now exceeds 100. Many contestants have been bitten by the science drama bug and re-enter the competition annually. Some also take part in other national competitions, making their mark as winners in the Prime Minister's Awards for Innovation and Invention Competition administered by NIHERST and the National Mathematics Olympiad, among other competitions.
The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago has been the competition's sponsor since its inception, which is testimony to its value in promoting youth development and science popularization. The company funds the promotion of the competition and its much sought-after cash prizes, which have increased to over $25,000.