SMK Batu Lintang scores golds and silvers in science, technology and engineering competition
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
Make way for these brilliant young innovators!
Five SMK Batu Lintang students representing four teams scored great wins for their school at the national level competition for Innovation, Science, Technology and Engineering 2016 (Pertandingan Inovasi Sains, Teknologi dan Kejuruteraan Peringkat Kebangsaan 2016 – Pistek) held at Langkawi Vocational College, Kedah from Nov 17 to 19.
Competing in the individual project category was SMK Batu Lintang student Isaac Chung (16) who was won a Gold Award and emerged as the champion in the individual project category for his project ‘Sabah Snake Grass-Nature’s Way of Healing’.
His project aimed to investigate the effectiveness of Clinacanthus nutans (belalai gajah) leaf extract as an anti-bacterial agent for pathogenic skin microbiota in wound dressing, especially Methicillin-resistant Staphylococccus aureus (MRSA), a strain of fast-spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Working on this project from June to October 2016 under the mentorship of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences senior lecturer Dr Isabel Fong, Isaac said that it sparked his interest in doing environment and medical-based research that can be used to help people in the future.
Meanwhile Joel Jong (16) of SMK Batu Lintang was awarded a Gold Award and emerged as the first runner up for his project ‘The Revolution of Plastic’ also under the individual project category which aims to create a naturally biodegradable plastic using sago starch to replace polystyrene food containers. He had been working on his project from March to October 2016.
“Sago is one of the main production of Malaysia. Even though we have plenty of it, besides consuming it, we do not use it much,” said Joel.
Also participating in the individual project category was Isaac Ting (14) who received the Silver Award for his project ‘Dried Botanical Peel as Pest Repellent and Biosorbent’.
As one of the most widely consumed food in the world, Ting explained that recycling banana peel by turning it into powder became an effective repellent against mosquito larvae, ants and fruit flies.
Participating in the group project category were 16-year-old students Isabella Ting and Wong Kei Li, who also won the Silver Award for their project ‘Biowaste to Biosorbent’
While they may not be durian fanatics, both Isabella and Kei Li were inspired to investigate the benefits of using the husks as natural biosorbents to remove heavy metal ions and oil for water treatment.
“Since we are from Sarawak and we all know durian as the kings of fruits. We searched online and found that no one had tried it before, so we thought that we should try something new, ” said Isabella, explaining how they came up with the idea.
“We hypothesised that durian husk powder was effective in absorbing heavy metal ion and oil whereby the concentration of the ion and oil in waste water that has been treated decrease in increase on contact time,” added Wong adding that it took them nine months to conceptualize their ideas, encountering a great deal of trials and errors before eventually succeeding.
“They ran quite a number of tests before managing to come out with better results during the last tryouts. So, I would say their passion, effort and interest has made it work. It would not have been as successful if it was just the teacher who pushed them, ,” said teacher/advisor Jennie Lau Ik Fei.
According to school principal Saftuyah Adenan, SMK Batu Lintang has been participating in PISTEK since 2002.
“Every year, SMK Batu Lintang represents the state in PISTEK. There is not a year that we have not represented Sarawak since 2002,” said Saftuyah.
Based on their experience participating in PISTEK, Saftuyah added that their students might be selected by the Ministry of Education to represent Malaysia for the Intel International Science engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) at Los Angeles in May next year.
“This year as they both came in first and second place in the individual categories, we are hoping that they would be selected by the education ministry to represent Malaysia,” said Saftuyah.
In 2014, SMK Batu Lintang student Faye Jong represented Malaysia in the Intel ISEF competition.
Aside from that, Isaac also represented Malaysia this year in the 67th Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in Phoenix, Arizona.
“It was an eye opening experience, I managed to see all sorts of things that I never thought about and overall it was a fun experience,” he said.
“At first I thought that I do not want to take part anymore, but after I came back and experienced how fun it actually was, I want to come back again,” he added enthusiastically.
PISTEK is an annual competition organised by the Ministry of Education Malaysia among government schools nation-wide which aims to inspire innovation and strengthen interest in STEM-related fields among students through scientific research.
It is an affiliated fair of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of Society for Science & the Public (SSP), the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Student researchers who excel at their countries’ affiliated fairs are given the opportunity to participate in the following year’s Intel ISEF.
Approximately 1,700 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research at Intel ISEF and compete for approximately $4 million in prizes.
While Saftuyah sees her impending retirement by the end of this month as bittersweet, she is grateful for the students’ achievement and hope that they will continue to strive better in the future not only at state-level but also internationally.
“For me, towards the moment of my retirement, this achievement is something that I am very pleased about because I considered it as a great gift from the students since I myself also have a great passion for innovation,” said Saftuyah hoping that they would continue competing again next year.
Also present during the meet and greet with the press was Penolong Kanan Ko-Kurikulum Hatta Arabi.
Held at Langkawi Vocational College, Kedah, the five students from four teams representing four projects competed against 40 secondary school students from six states presenting 18 projects.