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Sunday May 24, 2009

The challenge continues...

THE RHB-The Star Mighty Minds challenge has swept through half the nation, pushing students’ minds to the limit as they solve brain benders and construct creative models. The state challenges have left a trail of exhilaration, and for the state champions, great anticipation for the finals.

Close to 3,400 students from schools in Malacca, Kelantan, Perlis, Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak and Penang gamely took up a broad spectrum of Science, Maths and general knowledge questions to qualify for the hands-on challenge in their individual states. While some came away disappointed, others had their moment of fame, as they took home prizes for themselves and their schools.

The challenge in Perak last weekend was the first two-day event, garnering 84 lower secondary teams, and 115 teams for the upper secondary category.

Besides the large crowd that turned up to cheer the Perakian teams, the Ipoh state challenge was also proof of the talents and minds of the young people in this nation, as upper secondary students from SMK St Michael, Ipoh, answered 19 out of 20 questions correctly.

Also feeling the tension were teachers, parents and siblings who stood by the sidelines, seemingly channelling positive thoughts to their students or family members.

Students sharing a joke and enjoying their “energy boosters” during a break at the challenge in Seremban.

The RHB-The Star Mighty Minds challenge is divided into lower and upper secondary categories, where teams of three compete to emerge among the top 30 teams that will move on to round two. Much needed energy boosters came in the form of burgers and hash browns for brunch, courtesy of McDonalds, before the students moved on to the hands-on challenge that required teamwork and creative minds.

The Star’s F4F5 Physics columnist A. Alagesan who had set the hands-on tasks, said: “At first look, the project may not seem feasible with the items provided – for example, straws, cardboard and bottles. But teams that put their minds to it and work together have come up with models that have exceeded our expectations. And mind you, we had set a high bar for our expectations!”

Sophisticated materials, he said, were not necessary.

“If you have an idea, you can always experiment with what you have to see if it works, and then bring it to greater heights later on.”

Alagesan says that sophisticated materials are not necessary.

The most crucial element, he said, was to read the objective and understand it fully.

Quizmaster K. Sivashankar who had set the multiple choice questions, emphasised the importance of speed when keying in the answers into the interactive devices.

“When there is a tie, the judges will select the qualifying teams based on how quickly they keyed in their answers.”

He said that it was also crucial that teammates agreed on the answer beforehand because the answers could not be changed once they were keyed in.

Most importantly, he advised students to relax, have fun, and to remember that they are there to learn from the experience as a whole.

The Penang challenge is into its second day today at Queensbay Mall.

Because of the school holidays, there will be a three-week break with the next challenge to be held in Sabah on June 20.

It’s the last call for teams from Sabah, Terengganu, Sarawak, Johor, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. If you want in on the excitement and opportunity to strut your stuff, sign up now! Places are limited.

And champions, if you think the state challenges were exciting, the finals will blow your mind! The two-day, one-night national finals in the Klang Valley in August will see the 14 state champions going head-to-head in four rounds of challenges!

For more details on the contest, log on to thestar.com.my/mightyminds/. Call 03-79671777 for enquiries on subscriptions to The Star’s F123 and F4F5 Science and Maths guides, which contain tips for the competition.

Application forms are also available at all RHB and RHB Islamic Bank branches nationwide.

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