Report by Jasmine Leong. Photos by Xander Chong
On the 24th of October 2012, National Science Challenge was held in the Federal Government Administrative Centre in Putrajaya. The event was graced by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali, President of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM).
This national event was organised by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Malaysia and the Universiti Sains Malaysia. The final level of the challenge was supported by the National Geography Channel.
This was the final battle between the Secondary 4 students of SMJK Sin Min (Kedah), SMK Tinggi Bukit Mertajam (Pulau Pinang), SMK St. Francis (Melaka) and SMK St. Micheal (Sabah) to claim the Prime Minister’s Challenge trophy and the grand prize of a trip to Stockholm, Sweden, to attend the Nobel Prize awards ceremony in December.
The competition was divided into 4 stages. It started in March 2012 with the preliminary level followed by the state level then to the semi-final and final narrowing from 4,296 teams across the nation to the top 4 teams as mentioned.
In the semi-final, the four teams were sent for a one week residential science camp programme in Universiti Sains Malaysia to complete various components of scientific research to develop both critical and analytical thinking among the finalists. In the final round, the teams were tested through an interactive quiz on topics such as general knowledge, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics and science and technology.
In the event, Tun Dr Mahathir shared his opinion on the importance of science in moving a nation to greater good. He commented, “It is important to know how things happen and how to live with science. Scientific research is endless where one new discovery could lead to many applications of this new knowledge.”
The President of ASM, Tan Sri Tajuddin also commented, “National Science Challenge is a platform to nurture, promote and enhance the interest among school students. This is part of a long term programme to produce the very first Malaysian Nobel Laureate in the near future.”
As the primary sponsor of NSC 2012, ExxonMobil contributed RM 327 000 to the competition. “At ExxonMobil, we believe that science, technology, engineering and math form the cornerstones of any county’s socio-economic progress,” said Hunter Farris, Chairman of the ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia.
After an 8-month long competition, SMJK Sin Min of Kedah represented by Tan Tun Jian, Khong Yi Kye and Heng Mei Pei took home the challenge trophy and four tickets to Stockholm. “It has been a challenging 8 months for my students. They have made the school very proud,” said Mdm Kum Wan Thai, mentor teacher of the winning team. Tun Jian commented on behalf of the team, “Our curiosity and frequent discussions with friends and family contributed to our success tonight. We would like to thank all of them as without them, we would not be on a plane to Stockholm!”
The event ended with the prize giving ceremony and photo taking sessions with the members of the press. These 16 year old students and many of them out there will soon be embarking on a greater journey as they pursue their tertiary education in a few years’ time. As they will be the driving force of the nation or possibly the very first Malaysian Nobel laureate, it is important to nurture and guide them with opportunities and experience to grow their passion for science. Collaboration between the government and industry such as this shows the consistent direction that all parties are spearheading towards for a better Malaysia.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Jasmine Leong (MSc. in Pharmacology, University of Oxford) is a product specialist in the therapeutic area of cardiology for Eli Lilly (Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Find out more about Jasmine by visiting her Scientific Malaysian profile: http://www.scientificmalaysian.com/members/jasmineleong/
Xander Chong (MSc. in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, University of Oxford) is an Analyst at PEMANDU, Prime Minister’s Department, Government of Malaysia. Xander can be contacted at [email protected]. Find out more about Xander by visiting his Scientific Malaysian profile: http://www.scientificmalaysian.com/members/xanderchong/