Young Filipinos top Asean contest for junior scientistsBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Filipino students may be outperformed by their Asian peers in international science and mathematics tests, but young Pinoy scientists are showing that, in terms of actual work, they can do better.
The team of Ina May Sison, Magin Benedict Ferrer and Vicah Adrienne Villanueva of Philippine Science High School’s (PSHS) western Visayas campus in Jaro, Iloilo, won seven gold medals in the recent Asean+3 Junior Science Odyssey (APT JSO).
Flordeliza Remonde coached the team.
The team’s research, “Differences in Leaf Morphology of Plants,” in Brunei Darussalam’s Andulao rainforest won the grand prize in the science laboratory skills competition participated in by high school students from seven member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and two countries outside the region.
PSHS Central Luzon students Gabriel Pineda, Gabriel Sophia Seva and Michael Eubanas won four silver and one bronze medals, giving the Philippines a total of 12 medals. Arnold Pitpetunge coached the team.
Seva’s team placed second for the study “Variations in Microclimate and Soil Characteristics in the Tropical Rainforest of Bukit Sawat.”
Pineda’s team won the bronze for the study “Seedling Abundance, Density, Height and Size-classes Distribution.”
Dr. Josette Biyo, PSHS System executive director who chaperoned the team in Brunei, said, “The APT JSO is the equivalent of the International Science Olympiad in Asia. It is a science competition that assesses laboratory skills in chemistry, biology and physics.”
The Korea Science Academy team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology placed second overall while Singapore’s Hwa Chong Institution was third.
As the contest’s name suggests, the competition draws participants from Asean member-countries and three non-Asean nations.
The Brunei Darussalam Ministry of Education hosted the event in collaboration with the Universiti Brunei Darussalam and the Brunei Ministry of Development.
This year’s participants came from the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Non-Asean countries were China and Korea.
A third non-Asean country, Japan, did not send any participants while Sweden was an observer country.
The winning Philippine team bested more than 60 student participants. Groups competed to have the best and most accurate titration experiment, which sought to determine the concentration of certain elements in a solution through chemical reaction.
In the physics category, students were asked to dye solar cells using natural pigments from a tropical rainforest.
Students worked with plants and animals endemic to Brunei’s rainforests in the biology category.
Funded by the Department of Science and Technology, the PSHS System, unlike the regular public schools, follows a curriculum designed to further enrich the education of students with an aptitude for and interest in math and the sciences. The special science high school also has campuses in Quezon City (flagship), Leyte, Camarines Sur, Nueva Vizcaya, Lanao del Norte and Ilocos Sur.