Two teams from Penang win third place at In­tel ISEF in the United States

New Straits Times - - News -

TWO sci­ence re­search projects by two stu­dent teams from Penang won them third place at the In­tel In­ter­na­tional Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Fair (In­tel ISEF) 2017 held in the United States yes­ter­day.

The first team, Zhan Yi Chng and Xian Jing Koa, both 17, from SMJK Chung Ling, Penang won the award for their sci­ence project that dis­cov­ered caf­feine ex­tracted from cof­fee and tea plants can be a nat­u­ral pes­ti­cide.

Zhan said ter­mites were caus­ing prop­erty dam­age glob­ally and the usage of ter­miti­cides was gravely en­dan­ger­ing the ecosys­tem.

“Our ex­per­i­ments dis­cov­ered that an in­creased caf­feine con­cen­tra­tion syn­the­sised by these plant species can help solve prob­lems of pro­lif­er­at­ing pests,” he said.

The other team from Penang Free School, Nor­man Sim and Raul Vi­mal Ku­mar, both 16, also re­ceived the third-place prize for their in­no­va­tion named SALT, a saponin anti-lar­vae treat­ment made from nat­u­ral sub­stances that can func­tion like other chem­i­cal-based lar­vi­cides with­out pol­lut­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

Con­cerned with the rise of mos­quito-re­lated dis­eases, in­clud­ing dengue, they de­cided to fo­cus on solv­ing this prob­lem through saponin.

“The chal­lenge was to choose the most suit­able (form of) or­ganic waste to ex­tract saponin,” said Raul.

“We did nu­mer­ous re­searches and found that not only are rambu­tan and dukung (plants) in abun­dance in our coun­try, saponin can also be found in the skin of these two fruits.

“We tested the saponin ex­tract on three dif­fer­ent species of mos­quito lar­vae in­clud­ing Aedes,” said Nor­man. “We found that the ex­tract can elim­i­nate the lar­vae af­ter 24 hours.”

Both teams brought home US$1,000 (RM4,324) cash awards for each of their projects.

Xian said: “We are de­lighted that our hard work con­duct­ing ex­per­i­ments from last year paid off with our win.

“We would like to thank our chem­istry teacher, Heah Whey Cheng, for guid­ing us.”

Raul and Nor­man also said be­sides their school teach­ers, Linda Toh and Siti Rahimah Ju­sop, they also re­ceived re­search guid­ance from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Physics and Chem­istry schools, and its Vec­tor Con­trol Re­search Unit.

Penang State Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor Sham­sir Je­main said: “We are def­i­nitely proud of these boys from both Penang schools with their wins to­day, af­ter com­pet­ing amongst the best minds from all over the world.”

A to­tal of 1,778 fi­nal­ists from 78 coun­tries out­side the United States at­tended In­tel ISEF this year from May 14 to 19 to com­pete for nearly US$4 mil­lion (RM17,297,124) in awards and prizes.

Their sci­ence projects tackle top­ics rang­ing from vir­tual re­al­ity and sus­tain­able en­ergy to ma­chine learn­ing.

Ivo Zell, 18, of Lorch, Ger­many won first place and the US$75,000 (RM324,321) Gor­don E. Moore Award for de­sign­ing and con­struct­ing a re­mote-con­trol pro­to­type of a new “fly­ing wing” air­craft, which has po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions that range from drone de­liv­ery sys­tems to larger air­craft de­sign.

In­tel Malaysia has spon­sored stu­dents for the world’s largest in­ter­na­tional pre-col­lege sci­ence com­pe­ti­tion since 1999.

(from left) Penang Free School teacher Siti Rahimah Ju­sop, Raul Vi­mal Ku­mar, Nor­man Sim, Sham­sir Je­main, Zhan Yi Chng, Xian Jing Koa and SMJK Chung Ling teacher Heah Whey Cheng at the In­tel ISEF 2017 in the United States.

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