Proving that children are indeed the future, a group of Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF) Young Scientist awardees made the country proud at the recently concluded Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in Arizona, U.S.A.
The team, composed of Neil David Cayanan, Shaira Gozun, and E’van Relle Tongol, bagged an honorable mention as they managed to impress the Acoustical Society of America with their project called “Hibla: An Alternative Sound Absorption Material.”
Using natural fibers like bamboo, abaca, and water hyacinth, the three students from Angeles City Science High School in Pampanga created acoustic panels that have a wide-ranging practical use. It was inspired by their public high school where the noise levels can get loud and intense with the huge number of students.
The three also wanted to find a solution to the regular floods experienced by their province, which was largely due to a large number of water hyacinths in the floodways. “We thought about solving one problem [the classroom noise] with another problem,” E’van told GBF.
Neil, Shaira and E’van weren’t the only ones that came up with innovations. Their team was part of a larger Philippine contingent who were fully sponsored by the GBF to compete at Intel ISEF, which is considered as the “Olympics” of high school science fairs.
Meet the GBF Young Scientist awardees
A total of 12 student researchers who won at the Department of Education’s 2019 National Science and Technology Fair and who were also proclaimed GBF Young Scientist Awardees, presented six projects connected to sustainable development and the preservation of natural resources. They went head-to-head with more than 1,800 students from 80 countries, proving that the Philippines can nurture future leaders in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field.
1. Karla Buan
Using a simple robotics kit worth Php3,000, Karla developed an alert device that can detect signs of illegal logging and kaingin (slash-and-burn farming). The 16-year-old student from Pangasinan National High School was inspired to invent the device after seeing the barren mountains in Pangasinan due to illegal logging activities.
2. Alpha Acain, Lester Sabadao, and Lia Denise Tan
The team from Cagayan National High School wanted to help farmers who were heavily dependent on traditional sun-drying and “kamalig” storage methods. They developed a prototype of post-harvest equipment with an automated temperature and monitoring system for drying and storing Philippine rice. It can help farmers prevent capital losses due to crop spoilage and even increase the quality of their harvest.
3. Nathaniel Reyes
Nathaniel’s project was inspired by an aquaculture pond owned by his relatives. The pond was infested with algae, making it difficult to harvest healthy produce. The 16-year-old student from Quezon National High School then thought of developing a product to treat this infestation and potentially clean other bodies of water that are also polluted or infected. The end result was magnetized biochar made of cornstalk, which absorbs the algae to prevent its growth and infestation.
4. Maria Isabel Layson
The 16-year-old student from Iloilo National High School came up with a project that involves the aratiles fruit as a possible treatment for type 2 diabetes. Her research suggests there is potential in using the fruit to develop dietary supplements. Even simply eating the fruit on its own can be a more sustainable and cost-effective way to treat the illness.
5. John Eric Aggarao, Kathleen Chloie Antonio, and Anna Beatriz Suavengco
The team’s research aims to help coffee farmers who struggle with the “brown eye spot disease,” which is caused by a fungus and affects the number and the quality of yield of Kapeng Barako in Cavite. The students from Taguig City Science High School realized the bacteria from the Kapeng Barako leaves can actually be used as a biocontrol agent to manage the diseas, and it had a higher success rate than commercial antifungal drugs. They hope that their research can help improve the quantity and quality of yield of local coffee farmers.