IT whiz to lead PH team in Arizona for Intel science fair

Seven bright, young students with award-winning innovations are set to compete at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), the world’s largest and most prestigious international science competition for students on May 12-17, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.

(L-R) ISEF delegates Fatima Jane B. Clemente, Marizol Marie C. Bautista, Carla Diana A. Guiner, Emmanuel Joseph M. Magnaye, Bradley T. Saunders, Judel Jay A. Tabsing, Abien Fred Maranan Agarap, and Intel Philippines corporate affairs manager Yvonne G. Flores

A member of the Philippine delegation is 16-year old Abien Fred Maranan Agarap who created a computer program designed to protect a computer system from infections and improve its security and stability without committing errors.

Each year, young achievers in the field of science and engineering are given the rare opportunity to share the fruits of their research with a global audience.

This year’s talented Philippine delegates have won themselves critical acclaim in the country’s division, regional, and national science fairs and were selected by experts in the field to represent the country.

“The genuine reward of science for these young minds is that they are able to create real-world solutions that are relevant and significant to the country, and potentially, to the world. Last year, three of our delegates won fourth place in the environmental sciences category for their project on coral transplantation,” said Intel Philippines corporate affairs manager Yvonne Flores.

“These students are determined to help solve prevalent issues in their local community, and each developed innovative projects specifically designed to address big issues such as pollution, the slowing sericulture industry, and software security, among others. We are very confident in what Team Philippines can bring to the table this year. They are taking their heart and soul into the competition.”

Reavis, the ultimate anti-virus

“During my late freshman year, my adviser asked me to remove computer viruses from USB storage devices using the Command Prompt. It was then that I developed my interest in computer programming,” said Agarap.

The Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro native initially enjoyed helping the school community clean flash drives, but the tedious task of typing codes time and again eventually motivated him to automate the process by creating his own computer program.

Dubbed Reavis, the program surpasses existing antivirus programs through a four-wall defense protection system that operates simultaneously. To complete a computer scan in 6 seconds, the program consumes only 13-percent of the CPU resources.

According to the young IT whiz, he is not after the money or the potential fame his project will bring. “I’m here just to solve the problem,” he said.

Old batteries, new purpose

As a young boy, Emmanuel Magnaye would listen to fascinating stories about the old Philippines from his grandfather, who would tell him how much cleaner the water, air, and land was during his time.

Now 16-years old, Magnaye made a proactive effort to combat pollution caused by fossil fuel and developed a cleaner source of energy for cars, mobile, stationery and portable electronic devices, among others, using fuel cells.

Magnaye synthesized graphene from the carbon rod of a used battery and found a more affordable and efficient potential anode catalyst for use in direct ethanol fuel cells.

“I hope that my work will contribute to the search for an alternative source of energy that is both economically and environmentally sound,” he said. Magnaye’s work is part of a bigger project at the University of Santo Tomas Research Center for the Natural and Applied Sciences, which focuses on graphene and its applications.

Nurturing the sericulture industry

“Sericulture is one of the most profitable industries in our community, and we want to help our local silk producers maximize their investment,” said student Carla Diana A. Guiner.

Sericulture is an agro-based industry that covers mulberry production, silkworm egg and industrial cocoon production and cocoon processing for silk yarn and cloth production.

Understanding that the quality of mulberry leaves is crucial to silkworm development, a team composed of Guiner, Fatima Jane B. Clemente, and Marizol Marie C. Bautista, all 16 years of age, studied the effect of supplementing ascorbic acid on the mulberry leaves that are fed to the silkworms.

“Silkworms are typically vulnerable to infection, and we noticed that some of their cocoons are soft and would easily break. Our project focuses on improving the quality of both the cocoon and silk by feeding the silkworms with ascorbic acid-enriched leaves. The effect is that the yield of the silk improved, producing longer and finer silk than the previous one,” she added.

A cure to the banana turmoil

Fusarium wilt is a devastating disease of the banana found in almost all banana-producing countries worldwide. A fungus called Fusariumoxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc), which causes the bananas to wilt faster, has prominently affected about 80 percent of the world’s banana production, including the most exported banana variety in the Philippines, Cavendish bananas.

Sixteen-year old Judel Jay A. Tabsing from Panabo City, Davao del Norte has developed an environmentally-friendly, effective and inexpensive treatment to the banana disease by proposing to use Impatiens balsamina, commonly known as Touch-Me-Not, leaf extract as an alternative fungicide.

“My research has great impact to both the environment and the banana industry, because it encourages banana producers to use organic-based fungicide instead of synthetic fungicide.I envision a future where agriculture is safer and greener in the Philippines. I hope my project will be adopted on a local then national scale,” said Tabsing.

The banana industry contributes to majority of the Philippine economy. About 80,000 hectares of banana plantationsare based in Mindanao alone.

A treatment to clotting disorders

Bradley Saunders from Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro is the youngest of the bunch. The 15-year old shared that his curiosity with blood clots started when he fell down chin first and wounded himself while playing basketball.

“I hurried home and told my grandmother what happened. Luckily, she had some all organic powdered coffee, which she applied on my chin to stop the bleeding. That basketball accident lit the bulb for my next investigatory project,” he said.

Saunders sought to determine the combined effect of coffee bean, mung bean, and rice grain in the blood clotting of a normal human blood sample.

The findings may have a potential role in the treatment of dengue hemorrhagic fever and in the management of other coagulation disorders. The mixture can also serve as first aid treatment for shallow wounds.

“If the practice becomes recognized, people who live far from hospitals can use thishome staple to prevent infections,” he added. “The organic mixture blocksthe bacteria pathway and coagulates blood at a faster rate, making it as effective as first aid treatment to stop bleeding.”

Preparing the innovators

Aside from receiving online mentoring from professionals in the field of science, the delegates will also attend Science Clinics on May 5 to 10, wherein the students will rely on both experts and technology to help them prepare for ISEF 2013.

The delegates are also set to undertake presentation skills and personal leadership workshops before the competition to help them communicate their projects well and improve their chances of impressing the ISEF judges. Intel works hand in hand with the Department of Education (DepEd) in guiding and training the students for the competition.

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