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Sunday July 5, 2009
By RUBEN SARIO and RSN MURALI
A six-hour car journey from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah paid off handsomely for three students of SM Convent St Cecilia when they emerged champions in the upper secondary category of the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds Sabah state challenge two weekends ago.
The petite, smiley girls – Wendy Grace Wong, Yvonne Lai and Mabel Lim – charmed the judges during the oral presentation when they did a little playacting to show off the components of how their periscope, the hands-on challenge objective, worked.
Their quick response to the judges’ questions also proved that they had their Science principles at their fingertips.
“The hands-on challenge was a bit difficult but fun to do,” said Yvonne, while giggling with her two Form Five Alpha classmates after the prize presentation.
Their team was among the 30 that qualified from the first round of the contest, which required them to answer 20 quiz questions based on Maths, Science and General Knowledge using interactive keypads. A total of 51 teams from 29 schools had taken part.
Research about what made up the Mighty Minds contest was also an important component in their success, said Wendy, adding that they had assigned themselves different tasks to complete the model.
“During the journey, we had plenty of discussion time as well as mental preparation for the challenge,” said Wendy.
For Alice Kok, Wendy’s mother who had driven the girls and their teacher, Kok Yuk Yong, from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu, the challenge was beneficial as it stimulated her youngest daughter’s learning experience.
“The journey has been well worth it as Mighty Minds gave my daughter and her friends invaluable exposure,” she said.
For their efforts, the three girls received the top prize of RM3,000 from RHB Bank Bhd Sabah Regional Director Siow Kok Chee. Their victory also earned their school a desktop computer.
The nationwide challenge is jointly organised by RHB Banking Group and Star Publications (M) Bhd.
The event was held at the 1 Borneo hypermall where students were treated to breakfast sponsored by McDonald’s.
Meanwhile, getting to know as much as possible about the Mighty Minds contest to the extent of reading blog postings about past events by earlier contestants from other states, helped set trio Marilyn Valeria Rasiah, Michelle Ng Yee Jin and Mohd Eqhwanneazatt on the path to victory.
The Form Three students of SMK Bahang, Penampang, clinched the top spot in the lower secondary category.
They credited their victory, in part, to their familiarity with the Mighty Minds contest.
“We knew from reading the blogs of earlier contestants that it was important for us to divide the tasks among ourselves during the hands-on challenge,’’ said Michelle.
Marilyn was tasked with tracking time while Eqhwan, who is creative and artistic, had to draw the design for their hands-on task which was to build a torchlight.
The hardest part for all the teams was coming up with a superb switch made out of a combination of disposable items such as straws, paper clips, metal washers and a cotton bud.
Like their SM Convent St Cecilia counterparts, the SMK Bahang trio took home a cash prize of RM3,000 while their school received a desktop computer.
Speaking after handing out the prizes to the winning teams, Siow said RHB’s partnership with The Star in the Mighty Minds contest helped students develop their creativity.
“Through Mighty Minds, students are not only applying what they have learnt but are encouraged to be creative. This is what we need,” said Siow.
The first and second runners-up for the lower secondary were SMK St Francis Convent and SMK St Michael, respectively.
SM All Saints and SMK Tan Sau were the upper secondary winners.
Meanwhile, the Terengganu leg witnessed the arrival of competing teams as early as 7am. The team from Kemaman was up before the crack of dawn to embark on a 200km trip to the Terengganu Trade Centre, where the event was held.
Fortified with zeal and enthusiasm, over 330 participants applied their perception, learning and reasoning to solve the challenging multiple-choice questions which included this humorous general knowledge question: Which planet did the superhero who wears his underpants on the outside orginate from?
The lower secondary participants had to put on their thinking cap to construct a plant cell highlighting cell wall, cell membrane, chloroplast, nucleus, vacuole and cytoplasm.
The upper secondary students, meanwhile were tasked with a mind-boggling challenge-to construct a two-way lift using a pulley with a minimum height of 25cm where teams had to stretch their intellectual capacity to come up with a model that would captivate the panel of judges.
At 6.40pm, the Terengganu Trade Centre was filled with pin-drop silence and nervous moments when the judges prepared to announce the winners.
Twenty minutes later, amid loud cheers and applause, SMK Sultan Sulaiman emerged the winner for the Upper Secondary category (F4F5 category).
The team, comprising Yeo Zhi Ming, Daniel Tan Kwan Chiang and Lian William, hugged each other in exuberance when host Sivashankar Krishnapillai announced their names.
Flanked by their Physics teacher, Tan Teck Siong, the three classmates, all Fifth Formers, received RM3,000 and a desktop computer for their school from Kuala Terengganu RHB assistant branch manager, Jamilah Shaik Mahmood.
Zhi Ming, who was team leader attributed their success to team work and dedication.
“We read as much as we could and did extensive research. We wanted to be innovative and come out with a functioning model within a short period of time. I am glad we made it,” added Zhi Ming.
Meanwhile, SMK Seri Dungun emerged as winners in the lower secondary level (F1,2,3).
For their efforts, Form Three students, Satria Asyraf, Nooraisyah Abdullah and Noor Amira Shahirah took home RM3,000 and a desktop computer.
Team leader Satria said that part of their preparation for the contest was to read up on earlier events held elsewhere in the country.
“Each of us had our own way of ‘digesting’ the type of questions asked and we relied on the Internet to check how the previous Mighty Mind events were conducted.
“We are delighted that our perseverance and hard work paid off,” said Satria adding that Science teacher, Hasleen Kadir Jelani was their mentor.
Since it kicked off in late March, RHB-The Star Mighty Minds has swept through 12 states with the Sarawak leg completed yesterday.
State challenges for Johor, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur will be held this month before the state champions for both categories meet for the national finals in the Klang Valley in August.
Catch the students in action on TV9, which will be airing 30-minute episodes of the state challenges every Sunday at 6pm until Aug 30.
For more details, log in to www.thestar.com.my/mightyminds/. Call 03-7967 1777 for enquiries on subscriptions to The Star’s F123 and F4F5 Science and Maths guides, which contain tips for the contest.
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