Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Philippine National Science & Technology Fair 2015 'oozed with talent'!

Note: This photo-essay appeared in a slightly different version and title in the 20-26 February 2015 issue of the FilAm Star, a weekly newspaper published in San Francisco, CA 'for the Filipinos in mainstream America.' This author/blogger is the Manila-based Special News/Photo Correspondent of the paper.
The candidates for the selection of Team Philippines to Intel ISEF 2015 in Pittsburgh, PA.

As the nation was watching live on television the first day of the Philippine Senate hearing on the gruesome killing of the 44 PNP-SAF commandos in Mamapasano, Maguindanao, some 130 high school students from all over the country were converging far away at the Tagaytay City International Convention Center for the annual National Science and Technology Fair (NSTF) on 10-12 February 2015.

Research team prepare their exhibit.
The NSTF is affiliated with the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF). It is the nationwide research competition of the Department of Education (DepEd) to promote science and technology consciousness among the youth. It is the culmination of a series of fairs from the school to the regional level aimed at discovering the most creative and the best student researchers who will represent the country in the Intel ISEF and other international fairs. This year’s Intel ISEF will be in Pittsburgh, PA in May.

While the senators tried piecing together bits and pieces from various civil and military authorities to establish responsibility and accountability for the botched Oplan Exodus, the young S&T talents were setting up their exhibits to show results of their own meticulous scientific investigations on a wide array of topics in the life and physical sciences.

DepEd Undersecratary Dina Joanna S. Ocampo, who was guest speaker on opening day, admitted that the Tagaytay event was her first science fair exposure, but she enthused that she found the science research projects the convergence of subjects that students learn in school: scientific methodology, communications, math, statistics, ethics, critical thinking, computer science, etc.

She was looking at investigative studies that the young scientists conducted within January to December 2014 following international rules for pre-college research, the guidelines for Intel ISEF 2014-2015.

The young scientists proudly raise their regional posters during the “Shout Out” of the opening program.

This year’s competition was among the first place winners from the 16 regional science fairs and those from the Philippine Science High School (Pisay) system fair in the individual and team categories for life and physical sciences. The playing field had 34 individual researchers and the same number of teams with at most three members each. All in all, some 130 young scientists filled the convention center with fun and excitement after brief sober encounters with the board of judges.     

Mr. Joseph Roni Jacob, a DepEd education program specialist and the NSTF program manager, made sure that the three-day event focused on the students.

The young scientists had their “Shout Out” during the opening day program where they introduced themselves as regional troupers. Their banners were colorful posters they themselves crafted depicting iconic images unique to their regions. This echoed the ISEF tradition of country representatives running to the stage with posters replete with their national symbols.

“Oozing with talent,” Jacob described the high school scientists. And that’s exactly what he had printed on the golden yellow T-shirts that the students wore during the fair.  Their talents probed into various areas like nanomaterials, bioremediation, microbiology, software development, environmental management, medicine and health. Some of their explorations utilized materials from the natural terrestrial and marine environment.

He made sure that the spotlight was on them alone: the recipients of special awards from DepEd or from international groups, and the grand prize winners in the individual and team categories in the life and physical sciences. 

Medals for the grand prize winners.
There were all in all six (6) individual and six (6) team grand prize winners: a total of 24, the best among more than 130 science talents in the competition.

Of these grand prize winners, three (3) individuals and two (2) teams were proclaimed candidates for the selection of Team Philippines that will go to the Intel ISEF in Pittsburgh. They will first undergo mentoring, and the final delegation will be announced in March: 

  • Quantification and characterization of proteins from Acanthaster planci skin and spine: its latent role in marine and human pathogens and blood clotting inhibitions (potential management of coral infestation).  Mary Carmelle Antonette Gindap. Iloilo National High School, La Paz, Iloilo City. Region 6.
  • One-step synthesis of biomemetic superhydrophobocity nanofibers copper stearate film electrodes via electrochemical deposition method. Angelo Gabriel Urag. Father Saturnino Urios University, Butuan City. Region 13.
Life Sciences (Individual) grand winners 

  • In ovo anti-angiogenic screening of Gynura nepalensis (Ashitaba) on Anas platyrynchos (Duck) embryo using chrorioallantoic membrane assay.  Rizza Ann Vibar. Las Pinas National HS, Las Pinas, MManila. National Capital Region.
  • Hypoxic-ischemic cerebral cell death and locomotory-cognitive damage mitigation using squid (Thysanoteuthis rhombus) waste integument constituent: Simulated non-arrhythmia inducing mortal stroke evolution disruption. Team of Kenneth Michael Antonio, Marian Cabuntocan & Thea Marie Tinaja. Bayugan National Comprehensive High School. Region 13.
  • Toxicological effect of the bioactive compounds in giant taro (Alocasia macorrhizos) against coconut scale insects (Aspidiotus destructor). Team of Sam Jethro Cudillo, Armie Grace Pepino & Millene Ruth Edradan. Caraga Regional Science HS, Surigao City. Region 13.
Life Sciences (Team) grand winners from Regs. 7 & 13, and PSHS-CLC
 The other grand winners were:  
  • Ficus nota (Blanco) Merr. Moraceae fruit extract for “In vitro” antioxidant and genotoxicity cctivities. John Parlo Rosido. Agoo Kiddie Special School, Agoo, La Union. Region 1.
  • The antimicrobial and cytotoxic activity screening of the ink of sea hare (Dolobella auricularia Lightfoot) or donsol. Team of Sophie Alohilani Iturralde, Mel Michelle Dawn Ramirez & Vanity Temblor. RTPM-Dumaguete SHS. Region 7.

Physical Sciences (Individual) grand winners
  • Luminescent activity of Photobacterium leiognathi isolated from squid ink as its potential as bioindicator for oil contamination. Team of Joseph Neos Cruz, Jailah Mae Valentin & Celine Bueno. PSHS-Central Luzon Campus. Clark, Pampanga.
  • Polyaniline-based fish freshness sensor through digital imaging colorimetry.  Team of Marjorie Gold Maningas, Je-Anne Alodia Presado & Janella Umbina. PSHS-Central Luzon Campus. Clark, Pampanga.

  • Pomelo (Citrus maxima) and Marang (Artocorpus odoratissimus) fruit peelings as potential biosorbent in oil spills. Team of Cresart Ulysses Mata, Annafer Dumalagan & Jerald Nituda. Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School, Matina,Davao City. Region 11.

    Physical Sciences (Team) grand winners from Regs. 11 & 13, and PSHS-CLC
  • Nanochemical remediation of organochlorine pesticide residues and heavy metals in agricultural soil. Moises Marion Silvestre. Juan R. Liwag Memorial HS, Gapan City. Region 3.

  • Madness Blocker: a cyber eye program for social media and online games. Ashly Katrene Pineda. Nabuslot National HS, Oriental Mindoro. Region 4b.

Angelo Gabriel Urag
Almost all the grand prize winners are in their senior year. Those who will go to Pittsburgh would have received their high school diploma by then and getting ready for college.

Angelo Gabriel Urag though is still in Grade 9 and will go through the K-12 curriculum. He was in the Intel ISEF 2014, and he is now vying for membership in Team Philippines to ISEF 2015. There had been two repeaters in the ISEF. Urag may yet be the third.