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Sunday August 2, 2009

Klang Valleywraps it up

Teens win state challenge through sheer hard work and determination.

MANY a wise old man, it is often said, had to travel far and wide to acquire knowledge and wisdom, and while Jervis Ong may not have reached that stage yet, he too, had to travel almost 300km, just to gain tips for a competition that he desperately wanted to win.

The 15-year-old and his family made the journey from the Klang Valley to Malacca to watch the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds first state challenge in the nation’s historical city, so that he could psyche himself up and prepare for the competition in Selangor.

JUBILANT: The winning lower secondary team from Selangor react upon learning that they earned the top spot

His hard work paid off when his team from SMK Bandar Puchong Jaya was announced the grand prize winner at the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds Selangor state challege.

His teammates Ong Sim May and Lee Zhun Jing, were equally focused as their objective was to win the state challenge. They have now set their eyes on securing the top spot at the national finals.

“This is my first attempt at entering a competition like this, and I’m glad our team won as we spent hours reading and absorbing facts,” said Zhun Jing.

Asked what his experience was like throughout the competition, Jervis said it was “tiring!”

Students of SMK Raja Ali going through Science and Maths textbooks before the challenge.

The team members were all smiles when they walked home RM3,000 richer and with a desktop computer for their school.

Good team spirit was also demonstrated amongst participants in the Selangor state upper-secondary category when a team from SMK Seafield wrote a note for the judges which read ‘The never-give-up and the never-light-up electrochemical cell group’. It certainly “lit up” the judges who seemed amused as they did their rounds to select the top five winners.

Students in that category were required to create a portable dual electrochemical cell that could light up an LED (light emitting diode).

All the buzz and hype about the competition was very much alive until the final state challenge in the Federal Territory, held at the Berjaya Times Square last weekend.

Arriving very early in the morning, some students were seen lugging their textbooks along for revision, while others were intently sharing their Science and Maths knowledge with each other, refreshing their minds before going in for the objective challenge.

There were also conversations about buying blueberries at the nearby supermarket, since they supposedly contain elements to help with memory.

From left: Wahid Abu Bakar, Muhd Adil Elli and Muhd Khair Luqman of SMK Taman Setiawangsa posing for the camera at the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds Federal Territory state challenge

A bright and chirpy trio from SMK Taman Setiawangsa stood out from the rest, poking fun at each other, even when others were feeling the stress before the competition.

Making it through the first round, Wahid Abu Bakar, Muhd Adil Elli and Muhd Khair Luqman were thrilled to know they were selected to compete in the hands-on challenge.

And despite the tensed atmosphere during the hands-on challenge, the team which was eventually shortlisted as the top five kept their cool, trying to make their model work.

Muhd Khair said, “We were just joking around, and trying our best to see what worked. We really did not expect to come this far! But it was really good that we did.”

Tan Phui Mun, 15, from Sekolah Sri Sempurna, was one of the few earnest ones who stayed on to watch her schoolmates during the hands-on challenge even though her team did not qualify.

“I would like to see how my schoolmates are doing, because the project looks interesting. It’s a bit like the Living Skills lessons in school,” she said.

Phui Mun added that the first round of the challenge was interesting and challenging, but regretted that her team made some rash decisions in answering the questions.

“There was a question about the skin colour of a polar bear. Our team knew the answer was ‘black’, but we keyed in ‘white’ by mistake,” she said.

The RHB-The Star Mighty Minds challenge is a challenge of Science, Maths and general knowledge, open to all secondary school students in Malaysia.

The challenge has two rounds, the first being multiple-choice questions where students key in their answers on a keypad. The top 30 teams then move on to the second round, which is a hands-on challenge lasting 90 minutes.

The competition is for lower-secondary (Forms One, Two and Three) and upper-secondary (Forms Four and Five) students.

The final challenge, which is the national challenge will be held in the Klang Valley in October, where the grand prize winners will receive RM6,000 in cash.

You can also 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.

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