Cracking their eggheads

Sunday July 1, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/7/1/education/11552498&sec=education

By KANG SOON CHEN, SHARON LING and MOHD FARHAAN SHAH
educate@thestar.com.my

From being quizzed on various subjects to building a water tower out of straws, students show they have what it takes to meet the Mighty Minds challenge.

IN THE Iron Man movie series, the title character played by actor Robert Downey Jr wears a suit with a palladium core that turns out to be deadly in the sequel of the superhero movie franchise.

Students at the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds Sarawak challenge were caught by surprise when asked what type of metal powers the Iron Man armour during the multiple-choice questions challenge.

Jubilant: Ahmad Mujahid Mazwar (left), Jia Xuan (centre) and Kai Jie raise their hands in joy after being told that they won the upper secondary category of the Johor leg challenge.

SMK St Teresa fifth former Ashley Ng said: “A person who studies a lot at home wouldn’t know the answer but someone who goes to the movies would.”

The multiple-choice and buzzer quiz rounds threw in some questions related to movies and bestselling books, testing students’ general knowledge on popular culture, Science and Maths.

The students agreed that the multiple-choice quiz (MCQ) was a lot of fun, while the hands-on challenge was more difficult as they had to build a model showing the lock-and-key mechanism at work.

Ashley’s team made a flashlight that would light up with the insertion of a key.

“We decided to call the model the ‘anti-theft flashlight’ because anyone who steals it would not be able to use it without the key,” said Ashley.

Meanwhile, the team from SMK Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Gapor was thrilled at the outcome.

“When we took part in the competition last year, we didn’t get through the first round. So we made plans to go somewhere else after the MCQ challenge this year. Imagine our surprise when it was announced that we were among the top 15 teams going to the second round. Our model didn’t really work, but we’re happy to get past the first round,” said form four student Melissa Ann Liew.

Slow and steady: The hands-on challenge is not as easy as it looks. Having deft fingers and being meticulous helps.

The upper secondary school champions from SM Lodge nailed the hands-on challenge by making a lamp stand to demonstrate the lock-and-key mechanism.

Form five students Johnathan Mei, Zoe Chan and Shannon Tan impressed the judges with the innovative model, which used an asymmetrical cross shaped as a “key” to connect the circuit and light the lamp.

Besides spending on building models, teacher adviser Cindy Lau said she emphasised the importance of reading newspapers in her students’ preparations for the competition.

“The competition was looking for well-rounded winners, so students needed to keep abreast with current affairs,” she said.

SMK Sungai Maong and SMK Batu Lintang were second and third, respectively.

In the lower secondary category, form three students Caryl Teh, Engielista Norman and Nur Hadirah Athilah from SMK St Mary were overjoyed to emerge as champions.

“This is the first time we are joining the competition, so it’s really by God’s grace that we’ve won,” team leader Caryl said.

For their hands-on challenge, they made a multi-purpose model which could be used as a floor mat, towel or decorative item.

“We thought of something that everyone could use. There was a lot of teamwork involved in constructing the model,” Caryl added.

Sweet success: Johnathan (left), Shannon (centre) and Zoe are all smiles after emerging as champions of the Sarawak state challenge in the upper secondary category.

In second and third places were SMK Batu Lintang and SMK Sungai Maong.

Johor challenge

At the Johor state challenge, SMK Tasek Utara students Kee Jia Xuan, Ahmad Mujahid Mazwar and Heng Kai Jie scored a major upset when they knocked incumbent champion Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar from the top spot in the upper secondary school category.

Runner-up Foon Yew High School was also jubilant as the school had never been in the top five.

Team captain Stephen Chang, 17, said he was proud of his team’s performance despite losing to SMK Tasek Utara by a 0.12 margin.

“It is a bittersweet experience for us as this is the best result that my school has ever achieved in the competition, but to lose in the buzzer quiz round is just a bit sad,” he said.

Third place went to SMK Dato Jaafar. The upper secondary students deserved a pat on the back as they battled against time to build a relay system with three tipping points during the hands-on challenge.

Chief judge Bhul Vindar Kaur, better known as StarEducate columnist Nithya Sidhhu, said some teams came up with very sophisticated models but they had to be penalised for not following instructions to build the three tipping points.

In the lower secondary category, students were asked to construct a water tower using straws during the hands-on challenge.

Bhul Vindar advised students to always have science concepts in mind when building the models.

She said: “The water tower must be built on an elevated structure so that there will be enough pressure for the water to flow downwards.

“Scientific principles can be applied to make the models more stable. The teams demonstrate their innovation when they put satay sticks in the straws to increase the stability of the tower structures.”

SMK Tun Fatimah took the first and third placings in the lower secondary category, while SMK Sultan Ismail came in second.

The champion teams won RM5,000, while the second and third placed teams took home RM2,000 and RM1,000, respectively.

Winning teams also received book vouchers worth RM300.

Cash prizes of RM2,000, RM1,000, and RM750 were awarded to the top three schools.

The next state challenge will be held in Selangor on July 7 and 8.

Jointly organised by Star Publi­cations (M) Bhd and RHB Banking Group, the Science, Maths and general knowledge quiz will be held in 14 states before all the champions converge in Kuala Lumpur for the National Finals in October.

The upper secondary school winners at the National Challenge will win a trip to the Young Scientist and Technolo­gy Exhibition in Ireland, sponsored by Penang Medical College.

For details, contact The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 03-79671777.