MALAYSIANS SCORE AT GLOBAL SCIENCE FAIR
Two teams from Penang win third place at Intel ISEF in the United States
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.