Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Davao high school girls: grand awardees at the Intel ISEF 2017

The winners in their national costume
during the judging interview day.
They proved that the acacia bark extract is an effective organic insecticide against the adult black rice bug. For this outstanding science investigatory project, Rubeliene Chezka Gloria, Myrelle Angela Colas and Nadine Antonette Obafial of the Davao City National High School brought home the second grand award of US$1,5000 in the plant sciences from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in Los Angeles, California on May 14-19, 2017.

The three young scientists will be in Grade 10 when schools open in June. Thus,they will have the next three years until they graduate from senior high school to hone their research skills with new projects that can be of great benefit to the country.

They brought honor and pride to their school and country, and they also earned a place in the galaxy. Their names will be submitted to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for "a once in a lifetime naming of a minor planet." According to the ISEF program, "all minor planets in the Ceres Connection have been discovered by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program, operated by MIT's [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] Lincoln Laboratory." 

The Gloria, Colas and Obafial minor planets will join the main-belt asteroids previously named after Filipinos under that same program:  28439 Miguelreyes, 11697 Estrella, 12088 Macalintal, 12522 Rara and 13241 Biyo. The first was named after Miguel Arnold Reyes, a grand awardee for his materials and bioengineering project in the 2011 ISEF. The other four were those of awardees in the 2002 ISEF: Allan Noriel Estrella and Jeric Valles Macalintal for their physics team project, Prem Vilas Rara for his microbiology study, and Dr. Josette Biyo, who was recognized for excellence in teaching.

The Davao high schoolers were part of this year’s ISEF Team Philippines, which included Ricky Dave Mercado of Nabuslot National High School, Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro and Maries Ann Silvestre of Juan R. Liwag Memorial High School, Gapan, Nueva Ecija.

ISEF Team Philippines 2017 at work during their mentoring sessions before going to LA.

ISEF Team Philippines 2017 were the best from among the top winners in the life and physical sciences competition in the National Science and Technology Fair of the Department of Education held in Tagaytay City in December 2016.

The Davao team extracted their potential insecticide from chipped-off acacia bark. Their experimental set-ups housed rice plants and black rice bugs. They tested varying concentrations of acacia extract on the bugs for one week to determine which would be most effective in eradicating them. 

Mercado examined the morphology of agricultural wastes—coconut husk, banana pseudo-stem and sugarcane husk—and he found that coconut husk fibers, which have more diverse microporous cells, have better noise and hear reduction properties. He competed in the environmental engineering category.

Silvestre investigated the potential of coconut leaf extract using a transgenic worm as model in her search for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and Inclusion Body Myositis. The study competed in biochemistry.

The Department of Education is looking at the victory of the young scientists from Davao National High School as an inspiration for the students who will pursue their science research plans as soon as the schools open in June.

This year, around 1,800 finalists from 78 countries, regions and territories were in the ISEF in Los Angeles to vie for grand prizes in twenty categories. From the best of each category, the three ‘bests of the best’ went home with the Dudley E. Moore award of $75,000 and the two runners-up, Intel Foundation Young Scientist awardees, winning $50,000 each.

Top winner Ivo Zell from Germany got the Moore award for his design of a small flying wing based on a bell-shaped lift distribution.  Runner-ups Amber Young from Florida worked on a technique to predict the orbits of space junk circling the earth, and Valerio Pagliarino from Italy addressed how to get internet service to remote areas by using lasers to transmit signals between large high-voltage power transmission towers.

Photo credit:  Mr Joseph Jacob of DepEd for the picture of the girls in national costume. Mr. Jacob was the accompanying adult and coach of the ISEF Team Philippines in Los Angeles.  


  1. Hi Naquem,

    I stumbled upon your blog as I was searching for colonial photographs of Filipino students. Your collection is amazing. I would want to ask you some questions about the archive. How may I contact you more directly? My email address is ojserquina@gmail.com THANKS!

  2. my email address: aktober@yahoo.com. i can tell you where to access them.