Young scientists


By ZECH PHARAMOND

SCIENCE student Mohamad Ariffudin Che Mohammed Ariffin was beaming from ear to ear. And who could blame him, for it was the second time running that a team from his school – MRSM Kuala Terengganu – was named grand prize winners of the Sony Science Education Award (SSEA). 

Mohamad Ariffudin's team impressed not one but two panels of judges selected by Sony (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, organisers of the community-based project for the past five years, with their “Disposable Biodegradable Diapers” idea.  

Said Mohammed Ariffudin of his school's achievement, “We took five months to put our project together. Much of it was about getting the right combination of materials for the diaper. 

“We experimented many, many times and then suddenly, after many hours, the solution became clear,” he shared.  

The jubilant winners and their teacher (right) were thrilled to have won the grand prize for the second year in a row.

Another member of his four-man team Muhammad Azani Azan Azra'ai agreed, saying: “Sometimes, it was like we weren't getting anywhere. Then suddenly a new idea would come and we could get the results we wanted.” 

What they wanted was to find an environmentally-safe solution to the synthetic polymers used in commercial diapers, something that could be broken down and assimilated by fungus or bacteria.  

So they put together a diaper made of congograss (imperata cylindrical) with starch, egg white and pandan laut (Pandanalese kirkii). The pandan laut extract, which eliminated foul smells, was first used in their seniors' winning project last year. 

The jubilant students were happy to explain their project to the small crowd gathered around their exhibition table.  

Second prize winners SMK Seafield in Petaling Jaya developed a particle board made of crushed plastics and old newspapers. Calling it the “eco-board”, this team even got their product tested by SIRIM Bhd.  

“We were confident of the eco-board – it was quite sturdy – but we wanted to see how it compared to professional standards,” said Kimberly Louise Francis of the Seafield team.  

The eco-board was deemed almost as tough as other composite materials, and thus suitable for making furniture, floor tiles and the like. 

Third prize went to the students of Kuching’s SMK St Thomas who used the laws of physics to bend toothbrushes at their heads and stems so that they would be easier to use when cleaning around corners. 

“When you bend these toothbrushes at 45 and 90 degree angles, they become incredibly easy to handle,” said Aldrin Wong Shen Wee. 

Handing out flyers that showed 100% of their respondents agreeing with them, Aldrin was quick to encourage the curious to give their unique toothbrushes a go.  

They even brought along tap faucets, cups and an old telephone for people to test out their idea on.  

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

This year’s theme was “Scientific Solutions for the Environment”.  

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