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Sunday May 30, 2010

Might of the east

Determination and thorough preparation pay off for champs of the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds Terengganu and Pahang state challenges.

They came, they saw and they conquered. Using quick wits, grey matter and creativity aplenty, teams from SMK Sultan Sulaiman claimed the crown for both categories of the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds state challenge recently.

Secondary Five students Wong Yujing, Jason Tan and Damian Liew and their juniors How Fang Ling, Afaf Mamat and Lee Yoong Jin, left 59 other teams in both the lower and upper secondary categories in their wake to emerge tops in the four-round competition.

Lift off: (From left) Afaf, Yoong Jin and Fang Ling from SMK Sultan Sulaiman make finishing touches to their rocket launcher.

Yujing attributed their success in the highly-demanding general knowledge, maths and science competition to teamwork and experience.

“We carried out research and buried our noses in reading materials. We also had the advantage of experience — Jason had participated in last year’s competition,” he said.

For third former How Fang Ling, the hands-on task was the most challenging as it required the team to be innovative and create a working model within a short span of time.

“We researched online and read up on the challenges held in other states. We brainstormed for a week before the event, including analysing the contest format and questions,” he said, adding that they were elated that their methodical revision had paid off.

First runners-up were SMK Sultan Ismail (upper secondary) and SMK Padang Negara (lower secondary).

Winning smiles: SMK Sultan Sulaiman brainiacs (from right) Jason, Yujian and Damian receiving their prizes from Shaharuddin and The Star’s advertisement sales section manager Sara Chacko in Kuala Terengganu.

The Terengganu leg saw a total of 360 students competing at the Terengganu Trade Centre in a closely fought multiple choice quiz, a hands-on task, a presentation of their model and an open-ended buzzer quiz.

At stake was the RM3,000 top prize per category, and the opportunity to represent their state at the national finals. Also up for grabs were cash prizes for the top five teams as well as school prizes that included desktop computers, digital cameras and printers.

Teams from rural schools in Kemaman and Hulu Terengganu were so enthusiastic to participate that they thought nothing of embarking at 4am that morning to make it in time for the event.

In the general knowledge category, students were quizzed on, among others, the colours of the 1Malaysia logo, the name of Avatar’s director and even Mr Bean! And using Science principles and out-of-the-box thinking, students also had to solve a tricky crime case.

For the hands-on challenge, the lower secondary students had to build a rocket launcher, while the upper secondary students had to construct a model of the solar system.

During the buzzer quiz, even the audience got involved.

When the five teams could not name the largest monkey in the world, the question was opened to the audience who enthusiastically shouted, “King Kong!” They later learned that the answer was “mandrill”.

Meanwhile, over at the Berjaya Megamall in Kuantan last week, SMK Abdul Rahman Talib’s “experienced” participant Stephanie Mary Anne Vincent and rookies Mohd Faiz Irfan Abd Wahid and Zulfahmi Ahmad were ecstatic with their win in the upper secondary category.

“I took part with two other schoolmates last year but did not fare well. This time, I used my experience and knowledge to our advantage,” she said, adding that they had their head teacher Che Norsarwani Che Bak to thank for the win.

First runner-up in the upper secondary category was SM (P) Methodist while SM Sains Sultan Ahmad Shah, Pekan, took home the third prize.

In the lower secondary category, SMK Tanah Putih’s Jonathan Phan, Teo Jia Yun and Chong Chun Shien, all 14, pipped their competitors to win top prize and the right to represent Pahang at the national finals.

Accompanied by their teacher Tan Shou Shan, the three readily admitted that they never thought they would be good enough to win.

“We read books on general knowledge, surfed the Internet and read The Star to stay in the know,” Phan said.

The hands-on tasks for Pahang were a safety vest with a lighting and buzzer system for the upper secondary and a weighing beam balance for the lower secondary.

RHB Bank Bhd Kuantan branch manager Hafizah Rahmat, who presented the prizes, said, “The challenge is a good avenue for students to prepare themselves for public examinations as some of the questions were tough.”

Divided into two categories - lower secondary (Forms One to Three) and upper secondary (Forms Four and Five) - the competition will sweep through all 14 states before culminating in the national finals to be held in the Klang Valley in October.

The next stops are SJK (C) Khoon Aik, Kangar, Perlis (May 29) and Danga City Mall, Johor Baru (June 26).

The competition is jointly organised by Star Publications (M) Bhd and RHB Banking Group. The food and beverage sponsor is McDonald’s Malaysia.

Sign up now!

Registration forms are available at www.thestar.com.my/mightyminds/.

For an added edge, subscribe to F123 and F4F5, The Star’s Science and Maths guides published fortnightly that contain contest tips.

For subscription or inquiries, contact 03-7967 1388 (ext 1040/1043).

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