Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones expressed her admiration for and gratitude to the 10 Junior and Senior High School (JHS/SHS) learners who represented the Philippines and won in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2018 held last May 13-19 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“Among the researches of 1,802 participants from 81 countries, the products of your long toil and tedious study stood out; the whole Department extends its congratulations to Team Philippines for doing your country proud, and for showing the world that the creativity and innovativeness of Filipino K to 12 learners can beat the odds and conquer international competitors, because this is what we have been saying: critical thinking, not memorization of facts, must continuously be developed by our learners if they are to face the challenges of the 21st century,” the Education chief stated.
Joscel Kent Manzanero, Keith Russel Cadores, and Eugene Rivera of Camarines Sur National High School bagged the Second Award of $1,500 in the Energy: Physical category for their Design and Development of Solar-Tracking Arduino-Rooted PV Panels.
Elaine Nicole Saquin and Randy Molejona Jr. of Iloilo National High School (INHS) won Third Award of $1,000 in the Earth and Environmental Sciences category for their research on Biosorption of Manganese Mine Effluents Using Crude Chitin from Shell Wastes of Philippine Bivalves.
Pete Gabriel Ledesma, also an INHS student, took home the Fourth Award of $500 in the Materials Science Category for his study on Phytoreductive-Hydrothermal Synthesis of Polyethylene Glycol-coated Magnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery Applications.
Completing the Philippine delegation are: Leann Patrice Ganzon and Anne Nicole Occena of INHS who submitted their study on Garcinia binucao Fruit and Leaf: Phytochemicals-Mediated Antioxidant, Alpha-Amylase and Alpha-Glucosidase Enzyme Inhibitors; Adrian Maglasang of City of Bogo Science and Arts Academy in Cebu who conducted a research on the Propulsion Performance Evaluation of a Lego-Based Carangiform Mechanism for a Prototype Robotic Fish Unmanned Underwater Vehicle; and Roehann Mykael Zabat of Juan R. Liwag Memorial School in Nueva Ecija who analyzed the Reducing Dopaminergic Neurodegeneration and Motor Dysfunction Using Crude Ethanolic Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris) Leaf Extract on a Transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans Model of Parkinson’s Disease.
The Secretary also thanked the DepEd Bureau of Curriculum Development (BCD), regional directors, schools division superintendents, education program supervisors, local government units, school heads, coaches, and parents whose steadfast support enabled the young delegates to come up with, pursue, submit, present, and win recognition with their scientific studies.
From 2012 to 2018, the Philippines has already won four Second Awards, which entitles the winning delegates the prestige of having asteroids named after them by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); two Third Awards; and 10 Fourth Awards.
Road to Intel ISEF
The young scientists were chosen to represent the Philippines in Intel ISEF 2018 following their successful stint in the 2018 National Science and Technology Fair (NSTF) of DepEd. The annual competition “aims to promote Science and Technology consciousness among the youth and identify the most creative/innovative and the best Science researchers who will represent the country in the Intel ISEF and other international competitions.”
“Lahat po kami we underwent different levels of competition. It started from Division, Regional, SRC [Scientific Review Committee], and National, yun yung last part bago talaga mapili to be a part of Team Philippines for Intel ISEF 2018. Yung process po sobrang hirap kasi out of ilang students din from all over the nation sumasali tapos Top 6 lang talaga yung pinili nila. Pero bago po talaga nagsabi yung DepEd na kami po yung finalists,nag-online mentoring pa po kami, from different professors from different universities in Manila,” 18-year-old Saquin shared.
Nineteen-year-old Maglasang pointed to the lack of digital equipment as a huge challenge in his study: “Ito talaga ang pinakamalaking problem ko nung ico-conduct ko yung experiment ko, actually kulang ako sa mgameasurement materials na digital, so napilitan akong gumawa ng mga improvised na pang-measure ng data, medyo natatakot ka kasi baka yung data na makolekta mo marami yung errors kasi nga analogue lang yunggamit mo.”
Manzanero, the 19-year-old leader of the INHS trio, narrated how his team soldiered on: “Maraming beses po nasira muna siya bago magkaroon ng usable results. Kasi nagsimula po kami na wala talagang knowledge about robotics and nung summer lang talaga namin yan sinimulan last year. Meron lang kaming about a year para makumpleto yung research na yun and it put us under huge pressure, that’s why we learned paano po talaga mag-work as a team. Also, na-develop din po sa amin yung how to work with stability even under pressure. Akala po kasi ng iba ang robotics parang ipro-program mo lang yan bubuuin mo lang yan tapos na.Hindi. Yung sa amin po kasi we did not use any kit, the materials were actually repurposed from scrap umbrella, gearbox sa electric fan, scrap acrylic sheets mula sa mga car repair shops just to make the frame and make everything work out, because we did not have enough funds to buy a complete kit. But we still managed because we believe na magagawa namin ‘to.”
Labor of love
More than a school requirement, the delegates’ respective studies are labors of love – specifically, love of country. The young innovators were unanimous in attributing their perseverance and success to their passion for learning, particular interest in research, and desire to contribute in solving problems of the nation.
“Yung study namin yung mining pollution kasi po we’re both from Iloilo and maraming mining sites dun at we addressed it using local products ng Iloilo which are bivalves na naging waste na. . . I really want to continueyung research namin ni Nicole and ma-apply po talaga sa Iloilo because we found out that yung rivers dun are actually very contaminated ng metal tailings and we want to address that issue using our study along with the help of other experts in this field,” 19-year-old Molejona pointed out.
Eighteen-year-old Rivera did not hold back from posing a challenge to fellow learners: “Kailangan po kapag sa mga aspiring researchers, dapat base sa interest. Wag kang gagawa ng research na for the sake lang ngcompliance. Kailangan galing sa passion, sa puso mo, kung ano yung ginagawa mo at sana maging inspirasyon nila yung, as we know ang kalagayan ng Pilipinas, para continue lang sila na mag-isip ng solutions para ma-address yung problema ng bansa.”
Maglasang turned emotional as he shared an experience: “Kailangan ng motivation and bilang scientist, be always curious. I think ito po yung problema ng mga aspiring young researchers, nakita ko po yung ibangstudies sa school fair pa lang marami pinursue yung study na yun for compliance lang, para lang makapasa ng project. Kasi nakakalungkot, meron kang passion pero mapipilitan ka na lang. Maraming studies doon na paulit-ulit na lang, hindi na novel.”
Promoting research through NSTF
Miss Annaliza Chan, DepEd Senior Education Program Specialist for Science, noted that the delegates’ success in ISEF is a clear sign that the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) strand of the K to 12 curriculum is “doing good and must be supported.”
“Based on the student’s experiences in the conduct of their researches, ang daming challenges but despite all the difficulties that they have to face, they were able to rise above these.”
Chan, who accompanied this year’s delegates in Pennsylvania, encouraged learners and stakeholders to view both ISEF and NSTF not just as contests but as avenues for young Filipino researchers to collaborate and share solutions to the problems of today and the future.