Meet the first recipients of the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation Young Scientist Award
These brilliant young scientists were the champions of the Department of Education's 2019 National Science and Technology Fair. This led them to the chance to represent the country in the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona last May 12-17.
May 24, 2019

Neil David Cayanan, Shaira Gozun, and E’van Relle Tongol | Angeles City National Science High School

Eco-friendly sound absorption materials made from local natural fibers

Honorable Mention, 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Grade 11 students Neil and Shaira teamed up with Grade 10 student E’van to develop a sound-absorption material made from locally-sourced fibers water hyacinth, abaca and bamboo. Their research won the team category of the Physical Science research. 

The inspiration for their project is the noise that they observed in public schools. Since several public schools divide one room to accommodate two or more classes, noise in class has been inevitable. They also found out that the main cause of the annual flooding in their home province Pampanga is due to the overabundance of water hyacinth. The team tried to take one problem to solve another problem, giving birth to their project called “Hibla”. They developed a sound-absorption material from these natural fibers.

The team is currently working on further developing the product. In the future, they envision their study to be a stepping stone for an industry of acoustics production n the country using raw materials that are available locally.

Maria Isabel Layson | Iloilo National High School

Antioxidant activity and antidiabetic properties of aratiles as potential treatment for diabetes

Diabetes has taken the lives of several members of Isabel’s family. Her grandfather, whom he never had the chance to meet in person, was among them. This inspired the young researcher to look for way to treat the disease. Isabel noticed that there is an abundance of aratiles (also known as Jamaican cherry) along the roads of Iloilo City. She then thought if it is possible to use this for combating diabetes, knowing how costly the treatment can get.

Her study, which involved quantifying the phytochemicals present in the fruit, won as best individual research in the Life Science category. Isabel said that there is very limited literature on this potential of the aratiles fruit in treating type 2 diabetes. Her research suggests the use of the fruit in developing dietary supplements and even simply taking in the aratiles fruit on its own. She sees these options as a more sustainable and cost-effective ways to help treat diabetes.

Maryjoise Karla Buan | Pangasinan National High School

Alerting device that can detect possible signs of illegal logging and kaingin (slash-and-burn farming)

Karla Buan thought of her project while visiting her father who works at a powerplant in Sual, a town that is almost an hour away from Lingayen City proper. Like any rural area, Sual is surrounded with greeneries but a significant portion of some mountains were visibly barren because of illegal logging and slash-and-burn activities in the area. This inspired the Grade 10 student to develop an alerting device that can detect signs of such illegal forest activities.

She wanted to work on the issue of environment protection because she felt that there is very little action done to combat climate change and global warming, at least in the context of the Philippines. She was further motivated to create the device after researching that illegal logging and kaingin are the top causes of environmental degradation in the country. When she grows up, Karla actually want to be a climate scientist to study what else can be done for the environment.

The device that Karla used for the project was a simple robotics kit worth P3,000. Called Arduino, it serves as a microcontroller of the device that contains a smoke sensor, flame sensor and a sound sensor. When the device detects smoke or a sound of a chainsaw, it will send a message to the number coded into the system. Her research won as best individual research in Robotics and Intelligent Machines category. 

Her interest for robotics grew when she saw videos on social media that made her wonder how such things work. In Grade 9, she was also involved in another research project connected to sensors. They do not have a robotics teacher in school so she went out of her way to pursue it. With the financial support of her parents, Karla tapped a robotics teacher who helped her and guided her in the conduct of her study.

Robotics is a field that is usually explored by male students. In her school, Karla is among the few female students who are involved in robotics research. This makes her feel proud to represent girls in this field. She wants to encourage more girls to do the same by joining competition to see that gender should not hinder someone to pursue the sciences.

Alpha Acain, Lester Sabadao, and Lia Denise | Cagayan National High School

Prototype of a post-harvest equipment for local rice farmers reliant on sun-drying

 The winning team entry of the Robotics and Intelligent Machines category came from Cagayan National High School. These students hope to help farmers minimize risks and increase their rate of production with an automated temperature and monitoring system for drying and storing Philippine rice varieties. Alpha Acain, Lester Sabadao, and Lia Denise Tan designed a prototype of a post-harvest equipment for local rice farmers who are still heavily dependent on traditional sun-drying and “kamalig” storage methods. The team offers an innovative and affordable solution for farmers to prevent capital losses due to crop spoilage and increase the quality of harvest.

Nathaniel Reyes  | Quezon National High School

Treating algae infestation through charcoal made of cornstalk

Top student Nathaniel Reyes wanted to save the environment when he was thinking of a research project. In the competitions that he joined, Nathan noticed that most studies were about renewable sources of energy so he wanted to be unique. Across Nathan’s house was an aquaculture pond owned by his relatives. The pond was infested with algae that it has been difficult to harvest healthy produce. He then thought of developing a product to treat this infestation and potentially clean other bodies of water that are also polluted or infected.

His finish product is a magnetized biochar made of cornstalk, which won the best individual research in Physical Science. Basically, the product is a charcoal made out of cornstalk that was magnetized by impregnating the material to ferryl chloride. The magnetized biochar adsorbs the algae to prevent its growth and infestation. While the ferryl chloride is the active ingredient, the use of cornstalk is also very significant. Producing a charcoal requires a base material like wood. Nathan wanted to use cornstalk instead because it is an agricultural waste. He said that this could help reduce wastage by transforming this trash to something useful.

Nathan wishes to help aquaculture owners with this problem to encourage them to pursue this business. He noted that there has been a decline in aquaculture production in their locality in Lucena City. He believes that new technology should be applied in agriculture to help in the development of local industries. Someday, Nathan hopes to become a marine biologist so that he could conduct research that would improve the condition of the environment and also help fishermen.

 John Eric Aggarao, Kathleen Chloie Antonio, and Anna Beatriz Suavengco | Taguig City Science High School

Isolated bacteria from Kapeng Barako leaves and used these as biocontrol agents to manage brown-eye spot coffee plant disease

Going down to coffee farms and interacting with growers has been the anchor of the winning research by the Taguig City Science High School. Grade 12 students Bea, Eric and Kathleen were able to figure out their research problem by visiting farms in Cavite to witness the real situation for themselves. Here they found out that the most common struggle of coffee farmers is the brown eye spot disease caused by a fungus. This affects the number and the quality of yield of the local pride, Kapeng Barako.

The team, who won the team competition of the Life Science category, studied how the bacteria from the Kapeng Barako leaves can be used as biocontrol agent to manage the brown eye spot disease. Their results showed that this is actually has a higher success rate than commercial antifungal drugs.

Through their findings, they hope to help in preventing the disease to improve the quantity and quality of yield of local coffee farmers. They are hoping that this study could also contribute in uplifting the once robust Philippine coffee industry that has since declined.

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