Of soap and baths

By Karen Chapman

Six months of hard work paid off for the team from MRSM Kuala Terengganu when they won the grand prize in the Sony Science Education Award (SSEA) 2003. 

Focusing on the theme Scientific Solutions for the Environment, the winning school found an environmentally friendly solution using a local herb known as Pandan Laut (Pandanales kirkii) to treat water pollution caused by oil spill as well as air and odour pollution in the environment. 

Team leader Addy Putra Mohd Zulkifli said the team were inspired to come up with the solution after reading about pollution problems in the newspapers. 

''We even stayed back in school during the holidays to work on our project and write the report,'' he said after the prize presentation ceremony earlier this week. 

CHAMPIONS: MRSM Kuala Terengganu students are all smiles as they pose with their trophy after winning the Sony Science Education Award 2003.

The SSEA is a community-based project spearheaded by the Sony group of companies in Malaysia to promote science education and foster intellectual creativity among secondary school students. 

Sony (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd managing director Kazuo Suyama said MRSM Kuala Terengganu beat 105 other secondary schools in the science competition to grab the top prize. 

''A total of 13 schools will receive certificates, trophies and RM150,000 worth of Sony educational products for their winning entries,'' he said. 

Students who participated in the SSEA were encouraged to discuss current environmental issues that affect the community and to present innovative solutions which apply scientific principles learnt at school, in a creative manner to solve the issues. 

The top team won RM50,000 worth of Sony products, certificates and a trophy while the second prize went to SMK Seafield with their project Recycling waste oil into soap and third prize to SMK (P) Sri Aman with their project Watercop

Fifth former Thien Vee Vian, from SMK Seafield, said the group wondered what happened to used frying oil in fast food restaurants anddecided to devise a project which could utilise it. 

''We devised a project that easily turns this used cooking oil into soap,'' she said. 

Fifth former Anushree Subramaniam, whose group won the third prize, said the team's project was to conserve water in the shower/bath and then recycle it.  

''Water is a precious resource and the world's supply (of water) is running out while the demand is growing. On average about 30 litres of water is used during a bath when what we really need to clean our bodies should be less than 10 litres,'' she said. 

Deputy director-general of education (private education) Alimuddin Mohd Dom who presented the prizes, said the concept of a research project gave students the opportunity to learn more skills and knowledge that cannot be found in textbooks alone. 

Sony now invites participation for SSEA 2004.  

The SSEA 2004 competition will be held from March to August this year with an award ceremony in January 2005. The closing date is March 31. 

For more information, students and teachers can contact the SSEA secretariat at tel: 03 7725 1102 or check out the website at http://www.sony.com.my/SSEA

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