Scientific talents, innovative ideas and intelligence were on display at the 7th national festival of sciences and quiz competition which recently held at Government Secondary School, Jabi, Abuja when students from 50 secondary schools cutting across 15 states of the Federation showcased their projects.
The event which was attended by critical stakeholders of education is aimed at encouraging young people to take a keen interest in mathematics and the sciences to make them globally competitive in a largely technology- driven world. It is bankrolled by partners such as Shell Petroleum Development Company, Intel Corporation, Initiative for Science and Education Development and Cinfores.
Indeed, the team of independent judges led by Prof A.O.Ibhadode had an herculean task in selecting the best three out of the 50 projects on display given the ingenuity and the sundry utilitarian values of inventions by the budding scientists.
The projects at the science and technology fair range from: a simple handcracked generator and electric motor, food preservative machine, manual groundnut decorticating machine, the extraction of bio-ethanol from sugar cane and its application as bio-fuel, security carpet,charcoal-powered cooling chamber and solar-powered oven.
Some of the project also include dual-purpose preservative device, sawdust heater, locally-produced heavy duty vehicles, paint derived from locust beans, bush mint insecticide, DC power inverter, corn seed shelling machine, to mention a few.
But three projects were adjudged outstanding by the judges. They are: “Orange Peels: The Untapped Goldmine” from students of Doregos Private Academy, Ipaja, Lagos which won the first position, ‘’G-Force Space Craft” from students of School for the Gifted, Gwagwalada,Abuja which came second and “Jathropha Antibacterial Soap” presented by students of Homat Group of Schools, Lagos that won the third position.
Yetunde Abiodun and Sukurat Quadri, the two students from Doregos astonishingly came up with nine products from orange peels which, hitherto, were not thought of having any economic or productive value. These include the conversion of the peels to glue/paint remover, hand wash, chocolate candies, stain remover, food seasoning/preservative, air freshener, herbal beverages and insecticides (mosquito coils and liquid insecticide).
When explaining how they got the ideas of the usefulness of the orange peels in the first place, the winning students from Doregos Academy said a pupil told members of their JETS Club about how she saw some villagers burning the peels for the purpose of controlling mosquitoes, adding that this inspired them to scientifically find out other uses to which the peels could be converted to. The champions also revealed that the project is very cheap, spending only #3,150 on it.
hus the three students from each of these winning schools and the three science teachers from each of the schools will go to Los Angeles, United States of America in May this year to represent Nigeria and the Africa continent at the annual International Science and Engineering Fair.But the teams will only present the best project carried out by students of Doregos Private Academy.
Apart from the tickets to the US given to the students and to their teachers ,each of the students also got a mobile phone each, their schools also got desktop computer, printer and books each while their science teachers also smiled home with a laptop each.
In the quiz category where students competed in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and English Language, students of Federal Government College Keffi, Nasarawa State, came first, University Preparatory Secondary School, Benin City came second while Federal Government Girls College,Bwari, Abuja clunched the third position. Each of these winning students got a laptop, each of their science teacher also got a laptop, while their schools were given a desktop and printer each. The other five schools and their representatives were given consolatory prize of books.
According to the Social Performance Manager of Shell, Mr Emeka Obi, the programme is part of the corporate social responsibility of the company, explaining that the project is meant to develop the interest of secondary school students in science and technology which are the drivers of development.
He says; ‘’It is meant to catch these leaders of tomorrow young. The project is to encourage them to think scientifically and technologically. Shell is part of the programme because it has a policy of providing Nigerian youths access to qualitative education.’’
Emeka continues: ‘’So we are bringing the students to limelight to enable them showcase their talents to the world. This is the second time we are participating in the international fair.This year we had to double our effort because we saw the results in 2009.We got the American Navy interesed in one of the projects in 2009.They said they would monitor and develop the project. But the onus is also on the state [ Federal Government] to develop the talents of these students futher”
Joseph Nsengimana, the Director of Corporate Affairs Croup and Strategic Alliances in Africa, Intel Corporation, spoke in the same vain. According to him the science and technology competition is part of the effort to foster innovation that will, in the long run, fast track development.
He said : “We at Intel believe that all children deserve quality education and we strive to help them learn and innovate. Recognizing the central and critical role of teachers, we developed the Intel Teach program that enables them to prepare the learners to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. We are proud to announce that by the end of this year, 150,000 teachers in Nigeria would have been trained on Intel Teach program’.