Sunday March 11, 2012
Malacca’s mightiest minds meet
By ALYCIA LIM & JASMEEN SHARMA
The nationwide challenge for secondary school students kickstarts in the historical state.
BEING the first to start did not put them at an unfair advantage. In fact, as the privileged ones to kickstart the fourth year of the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds National Challenge, Malacca participants were more than eager to put on their thinking caps in the hopes of taking home the State Champion title.
The heated battle saw squinting eyes, full concentration and quite a few pairs of trembling hands, as almost 80 teams each in both the lower and upper secondary categories faced off with keypads for the first section of the four-stage challenge – the multiple-choice questions (MCQ).
Not making it any easier for them, trick questions were included in the MCQ challenge, such as when quizmaster Sivashankar Krishnapillai presented a question on the famous television series Glee, asking contestants to identify the actress who plays the role of the reviled cheerleading coach.
While most of the teams deciphered the question carefully and keyed in “Jane Lynch” as their answer, the few who submitted “Sue Sylvester” under time-pressure were seen groaning in dismay and ‘facepalming’ when the correct answer was announced.
When the top 15 teams in each category were listed on the board, screams of joy erupted, and a few tears were shed … but not for long, as the students stayed back to cheer on their schoolmates who had made it through to the next stage of the challenge.
Tasita Darshini, 17, from SMK Bukit Baru, said that the Maths questions were challenging, but she really enjoyed the general knowledge questions.
As a Fifth Former, this was her last chance to participate, and she expressed disappointment that her team did not make it through to the hands-on challenge. “I will definitely encourage my juniors to join this competition,” she said.
N. Khabilavarman, 15, from SMK Muzzafar Shah, said that he did not have enough time to prepare for the competition as he only found out about it a few days prior to the event. However, he said he enjoyed the new experience and the chance to challenge himself.
For the hands-on category, the lower-secondary teams were required to construct a model of an insect trap that would not harm the creatures, while the upper-secondary teams were tasked to design a model of an alarm system that would alert the room owner when someone was about to enter their room.
Prepping the anxious teams in each category on how they should present their models after the hands-on challenge, chief judge Nithya Siddhu said, “Presenting your models to the judges is like doing a sales pitch. Your team built the model, so you would know its strong and weak points. It is up to you how you present your model, and whether you can sell it to us.”
While both the upper and lower secondary teams tackled the challenge well, Nithya said that she was particularly impressed by the lower-secondarymodels.
“The insect trap gave them a lot of room for creativity, and they certainly came up with many interesting ideas!”
An upper secondary team working at a furious pace to complete the model.
Nithya said that students are expected to have a sound knowledge of biology, physics and chemistry in order to do well in the hands-on challenge.
“Most importantly, teams must be able to manage their time well. We are also looking for creativity and out-of-the-box ideas, so the challenge is for participants to be quick-thinkers.”
Clear winners in the upper-secondary category was the team from SMK Gajah Berang. Team member Lee Yi Wei, 16, said, “Many people used the switch as the sensor but we decided to use the wires instead, to raise its sensitivity.”
Yi Wei was referring to their model of a house, which could alert the teenage room owner when someone was about to enter his room.
Their ingenious placement of the buzzer in a hollowed out section of the room wall ensured that the buzzer could be heard inside the room and in any part of the house as well. The other teams had placed both the buzzer and bulb inside the bedroom but this winning team had put the bulb in the living room (complete with a plasma tv!) to ensure that even when the teenager was being a “typical couch potato”, he’d be alerted when his “pesky younger sister” entered his room.
Teammate Tiew Ming Chun, also 16, said that participating in last year’s competition gave them an upper hand.
“I guess we learnt how to manage our time better. We were struggling to complete our model last year, but this time, we even had enough time to decorate and have a chat afterwards!”
Words from the champs
In the lower secondary category, twins Afiq and Afiqah Ramizi, 15, said that being in the same team and representing Kolej Yayasan Saad with their teammate Nur Fatihah Athira, 15, was an exciting journey.
Going home as champions and RM5,000 richer, the twins attributed their team’s success largely to their mother, who was present to support them.
“Mum is always around when we participate in competitions, and it is very motivating and encouraging for us.”
Their mother, Dr Rohani Samat, who resides in Muar, Johor, said she printed out general knowledge information and sent them to her children to help prepare them for the competition.
“They are so busy at school, they sometimes do not have time to source for information. I make it easier by sending it to them.”
SMK Gajah Berang students (from left) Tiew Ming Chun, Lee Yi Wei, and Izyan Izzati Mohd Raziff presenting their model of an alarm system to the judges.
Coming in second place, SMK Infant Jesus Convent participant Resham Kaur said that the biggest challenge was building the hands-on model.
“We had limited time to conceptualise and construct it. It was such an achievement when we completed it within the time frame!”
The well-spoken lass whose favourite books are the Harry Potter series, said the general knowledge questions were interesting.
“I found the questions fun, and getting the chance to present our model to the judges was exciting,” she said.
With SMK Gajah Berang topping the upper-secondary category, SMK Katholik and SM Sains Muzaffar Shah clinched the second and third places, while SMK St David and SMK Methodist ACS were third and fourth runners-up.
The competition ended with the top five teams from both categories trying to out-talk and out-think their rivals during the oral presentation and buzzer quiz.
In the lower-secondary category, the champions were Kolej Yayasan Saad, while first and second runners-up were SMK Infant Jesus Convent and SMK St Francis. Another team from SMK Infant Jesus Convent were the third runners-up, with Sekolah Tinggi Cina Melaka in fifth place.
The champion team won RM5,000, while the second and third teams won RM2,000 and RM1,000 respectively.
The three teams also took home book vouchers worth RM300 per team.
School prizes of RM2,000, RM1,000, and RM750 were awarded to the top three schools.
All state champions will represent their states at the National Challenge.
Held at Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall, the Malacca state challenge was the first of the 14 state challenges. The next state challenge will be held in Negri Sembilan on March 24, followed by Terengganu on March 31.
The upper secondary winners at the National Challenge will win a trip to the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Ireland, sponsored by Penang Medical College.
Jointly organised by Star Publications (M) Bhd and RHB Banking Group, the competition will be held in all 14 states before culminating in the National Finals in the Klang Valley in October.
Places are still available, so grab two friends and book a spot fast if you want in on the excitement!
For details, contact The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 03-7967 1777 or 03-7967 1703 or visit www.thestar.com.my/mightyminds.
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