WormingUp and UCSI Sarawak make chemistry fun in one-day workshop

Patiently filtering used cooking oil to make into biodiesel.

Patiently filtering used cooking oil to make into biodiesel.

WormingUp, a social enterprise which aims to reduce and reuse food waste in Malaysia, recently presented its volunteer facilitators and participants a fresh look at chemistry in a one-day workshop called ‘The Chemistry of Cooking Oil’.

Taking part in the workshop were 54 students and five teachers from SMK DPHA Gapor Stampin along with 18 UCSI University Sarawak Campus (UCSI Sarawak) student volunteer facilitators.

Three facilitators from WormingUp provided technical support and shared their extensive knowledge in chemistry, helping the participants and volunteers understand chemistry in a whole new way, while exposing them to the alarming issue of waste created by used cooking oil in Malaysia. The participants also learnt about what youth could do to reduce the negative impact of used cooking oil.

Foundation programme students from UCSI Sarawak’s Centre for Pre-U volunteered to lead groups of four or five students and facilitate them while they learned how to convert used cooking oil into something useful.

UCSI Sarawak student volunteer facilitators.

UCSI Sarawak student volunteer facilitators.

Prior to the workshop, the foundation programme volunteer leaders were trained and prepped by the WormingUp facilitators on how to ensure that they could make the products and lead their groups effectively.

The UCSI Sarawak volunteers found this experience a very fulfilling opportunity to hone their skills in leadership, time management, problem solving and critical thinking. They rose to the challenge and found it to be very rewarding.

Lim Lih Shiow, one of the volunteer leaders declared: “It was quite fun, although quite tiring. We were able to meet new people and gain a lot of new knowledge.”

During the workshop the students were taught how to convert used cooking oil into soap, candles and biodiesel. The process involved the handling of chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and methanol, which proved to be a new experience for most of them. Through trial and error, the students were able to produce their own samples of soap, candles and biodiesel.

Students in rapt attention as they receive instructions before launching into their experiments.

Students in rapt attention as they receive instructions before launching into their experiments.

Volunteer leader, Matthew Teo also found the experience enjoyable. He mentioned that both the volunteer leaders and the student participants went away from this workshop with a variety of new practical skills.

“The event was meaningful and should be continued because it promotes the recycling of used cooking oil to make useful products such as soap, candles and biodiesel,” he said.

The teachers of SMK DPHA Gapor Stampin were greatly inspired by the hands-on chemistry lesson given to their students. They were impressed not only with their students’ chemistry know-how, but also with their creative abilities. They were also supportive of the underlying purpose and message of the workshop – to protect the environment and fight climate change.

Group photo

Group photo

Centre for Pre-U Studies Programme coordinator Irene Foo expressed her appreciation towards the workshop organisers: “Many thanks to WormingUp in providing such an effective platform, not only for our students but also the public, to increase awareness, knowledge and participation in nature conservation. We hope to see more events like this coming up in the future. The Centre for Pre-U Studies, UCSI University Sarawak Campus will definitely give full support!”

Homemade soap made in various cookie cutter shapes and sizes.

Homemade soap made in various cookie cutter shapes and sizes.

Students standing proudly with their completed homemade candles.

Students standing proudly with their completed homemade candles.

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