The Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) is planning to hold an annual robotics competition among the country’s science high schools. The competition would allow science high school students to show their prowess in creating a robot, in the same manner as "Larry Labuyo," the robot created by a group of students from the Philippine Science High School in Quezon City, which joined the prestigious FIRST Robotics competition in Hawaii and Atlanta, Georgia in the US. The competition is set to be officially announced sometime in June or July, in time for the upcoming National Science and Technology Week (NSTW). SEI Director Ester Ogena said the robotics competition is aimed at encouraging young science high school students to pursue technical courses related to the creation of robotics, particularly in the areas of software programming, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. Ogena said the Philppine robotics team recently sent abroad with “Larry Labuyo” are examples of young people working together to build a complex machine. “Obviously, our intention is to develop communities among our students.” Ogena said the SEI is stil finalizing the guidelines for the competition. She said that the development kit for each school participating in the competition would have to be composed of parts mostly purchasable from local shops. “We’re still working on what the development kit would have. They won’t have to be expensive but they have to be workable,” Ogena said.
Recently in Students Category
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines -- Mass hysteria caused the unusual behavior of a number of students at the Pedro V. Panaligan Memorial National High School (PMNHS) in Calapan City, report from a medical team deployed by the Department of Education obtained by INQUIRER.net said. The team -- composed of psychiatrist Dr. Ma. Arlene Briones, psychologist Jennilyn Ebio from the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), and Dr. Minda Meimban, medical officer IV of DepEd Health and Nutrition Center -- conducted psychosocial intervention sessions or PSIs of faculty members and the supposedly possessed students on August 27, 2008. Based on the PSI sessions, the team reported that before the students experienced the so-called “initial attacks,” most of them had family-related problems, such as parents separating and deaths in the family. Students reportedly declared on August 8, 2008 that “the gates of hell will be opened and bad spirits will be let out to roam the Earth.” During the supposed possessions, students who were affected experienced chest pains, difficulty in breathing, cold sensations on the palms and weakening of the knees, the report said. However, the medical team stressed that while the students were allegedly possessed, most of them could still hear and understand what people around them were saying. Based on the diagnosis of the medical team, they suggested that special counseling be given to afflicted students after a month, while all school personnel were advised to undergo PSI or Critical Incidence Stress Debriefing training during the second week of September. The alleged spirit possession of PMNHS students, which caused what appeared to be seizures, began on July 25, 2008. It was reportedly recurring every Tuesday and Friday until the number of afflicted students increased to 26 on August 8, 2008. Here are video clips of the alleged possessions.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net GRACE Christian High School won a gold medal at the 6th World Robot Olympiad held on Nov. 18 in Taiwan. The team’s project called Operation Security Guaranteed is composed of a city diorama that has a group of security-based robots that fight fire, catch criminals and ensure building protection from would-be terrorist attacks. The Grace Christian High School team is composed of Bryan Lao, Alyssa Sheena Tan and Mark Ian Tan. They won the gold medal in the Open Category for the Junior Level. The team also presented their winning entry at the newly opened Science Discovery Center at the SM Mall of Asia. This is the second time that the Philippines won a gold medal in the annual robotics competition. First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities won the first gold medal for the Philippines last year. The Philippines also won five Excellence Awards for the rest of the Philippines representatives to WRO 2007. Awardees included teams from Grace Christian High School, First Asia Institute of Technology, Humanities, and Philippine Science High School-Bicol. The Excellence Awards varied from the Open Category Primary Level to Junior High School. Over 170 teams, composed of 800 students from 18 countries, joined the competition. Lego is a major sponsor of the event. Its computer-programmable Lego Mindstorms robot machines were the primary equipment used by the participants. The Philippine Robotics Olympiad was sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology and Lego distributor Felta Multimedia. The complete list of winners can be viewed at the WRO website.
By Allison Lopez Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--They may not see a night sky filled with stars from their homes in the city, but an amazing simulation of one inside the Planetarium in Manila certainly made kids scream and clap their hands in wonder and perhaps, in appreciation. “Ang galing (It’s great)!” said a girl from the Industrial Valley school in Marikina City as she and her classmates stared at the bright dots moving slowly on the ceiling. “It’s an exact copy of the real night sky,” said Bel Pabunan, officer in charge of the Planetarium division. “Here in Metro Manila, the kids don’t see a night sky like that because of pollution and bright lights. But with the Goto Projector, we can simulate the night sky and project the planets and other deep space objects like satellites.” The construction of a planetarium was conceived by former National Museum director Godofredo Alcasid Sr. who proposed it to former First Lady Imelda Marcos in the early 1970s. The dome-shaped building with a 300-seating capacity on Padre Burgos Street in Ermita district, a few meters away from Rizal Park, took nine months to build and was formally inaugurated on Oct. 8, 1975. Still in operation Today, the aging structure may seem like one of the city’s abandoned buildings although the Planetarium is still very much operational. Pabunan said they often draw elementary and high school students to their four daily shows that take spectators on a trip out of this world. Called “Journey to the Solar System, an interplanetary adventure,” the show kicks off with a “sunset” -- which is when the lights dim and the wonderful night sky is shown. It ends with “sunrise,” when the lights brighten, complete with roosters crowing in the background. While the star projector, a large machine in the theater’s center, is the Planetarium’s “heart,” slide projectors complement the lecture by showing stark features of the heavenly bodies, including Mercury’s craters and Saturn’s rings. Aside from the major constellations that showed the hunter Orion’s belt, the young audience was also astonished when little by little, the planets grew larger until they seemed within arm’s reach. The lecture, added Pabunan, is updated with recent scientific advances such as Pluto being classified as a dwarf planet. Sometimes, however, the visual effects drown out the narrator’s hypnotic voice. According to Pabunan, they are currently developing another feature on “The Ring Planets” which are composed of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto. “Our real purpose is to disseminate information and complement textbooks in schools, but we present it in a way that we show their real features and colors,” said the senior museum researcher. Renovation of the 32-year-old structure, she revealed, was also long overdue and will begin before December. The first rehabilitation was done in 1991 after the inner dome that served as the screen collapsed due to old age and the effects of the earthquake the year before. “We’re due for a repair of the ceiling leakages and offices, plus some repainting. More than that, we want to change the exhibits because ever since, these have not been updated,” she said, adding that the Planetarium would remain open during the restoration which would take 150 days. P4-M renovation The rehabilitation would cost around P4 million, she said, excluding the updating of the exhibits. Outside the theater, indeed, were exhibits on comets, meteorites and space explorations that featured yellowing photographs. Aside from being outdated, they hardly generated interest among the visitors. Given the funds, Pabunan said they would create more interactive exhibits and modernize the current ones with interesting tidbits. Photo displays would be part of Phase 1 while hands-on exhibits would form part of Phase 2. But for schools and other institutions whose students are unable to go to the Planetarium, a mobile version will soon be coming their way. Pabunan said that although the 4x4 meter mobile Planetarium could only accommodate 30 people at a time, it may be a cheaper alternative to hiring buses and paying the entrance fee. Lectures on outer space would also be held simultaneously with the mobile Planetarium that has reached only as far as Isabela province. Pabunan, however, hoped that even students from Visayas and Mindanao would soon experience the wonders of the universe, even through the smaller version of the Planetarium. The Planetarium is open from Tuesday to Saturday with shows at 9-10 a.m., 10:30-11:30 a.m., 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m. Admission fee is P30 for students and P50 for adults. Call +632 5277889 for more details.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net TEAM Sinag has finished 11th out of the 21 participants in the Challenge category of the Panasonic World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia. Here's a photo of the Sinag solar car crossing the finish line in Adelaide. The Philippine team also finished 20th out of the total 38 participants in the WSC, an international competition for developers of solar-powered vehicles. The results are posted on the WSC website. The team’s solar car entry called “Sinag” (Filipino for “sunlight”) was able to finish the 3,021-kilometer race from Darwin to Adelaide at 4 p.m., on Oct. 27 (Australian time). It was the Nuon Solar Team from the Netherlands, with their car the Nuna4, that took the overall win in the competition, finishing the race on October 25. Like Team Sinag, the Nuon Solar Team is also in the same Challenge category, which is for first-time participants in the race. Despite being its first time to join, the Philippine team’s car did not stall throughout the journey across Australia. A few of the entries were put in trailers after experiencing technical difficulties. In a statement, Team Sinag technical head engineer Rene Fernandez described their performance as remarkable as this was their first time to join and they did not know what to expect. “It’s positive proof of not only the car’s solid design and construction, but also our own capability to successfully deploy solar power technology in the Philippines.” Team Sinag is composed of students from De La Salle University and is sponsored by about a dozen local companies, including Philippine Airlines, San Miguel Corp., Shell, Ford, Sunpower and Motolite. Here's a photo of Team Sinag after crossing the finish line.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net STUDENTS from Grace Christian High School and the Philippine Science High School will lead the Philippine contingent for the upcoming 2007 World Robot Olympiad to be held in Taipei, Taiwan. The students from the two schools were the top winners during the recently held 6th Philippine Robotics Olympiad at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City. They beat 69 other schools to become the country's representatives for the 2007 WRO. Winning in the elementary level is Grace Christian High School "Team A" composed of Carlos Cheng, Jordan Chua and Kyle David Dee, with their coach Warren John Ong. They won the Best in Robo Rally category, as well as the Best of the Best category. Meanwhile the High School Level winner is Philippine Science High School "Bicol Team A" composed of Anton Mari Carreon, Reiland Cordial and Emmanuel Valdoria, with their coach Sevedeo Malate. They won in the Best Robo Ambulating Rally and the Best in Train of Alishan categories. The event is sponsored by Felta Multimedia, which distributes the Lego Mindstorm robotics kit that was used during the competition, and supported by the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI). In an interview, Felta Multimedia president Mylene Abiva Sazon said the top team in each level will be fully supported for their competition in the 2007 WRO. However, the second and third winners for each level will also have a chance to join in the competition. "For the second placers, we’ll be paying for their hotel accommodations only while the third placers will have to shoulder their expenses," Sazon said. She noted that the interest in robotics has increased this year, following the Philippine team's win of its first gold medal in the 2006 WRO in China by students from the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities in Tanauan City, Batangas. She also said robotics has become more than just a pasttime for students joining the competition but a serious activity that develops critical thinking and problem solving skills in young people. "Hopefully, we [will] surpass our performance last year for the upcoming contest," Sazon said. The WRO is an international competition of primary and secondary students who develop small robots with rudimentary programming. Competitions vary from obstacle courses, racing and dioramas depicting robots in various activities.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE DEPARTMENT of Science and Technology (DOST) recently announced the 33 beneficiaries of the Grants for Educational Assistance on Technology and Science Teaching Courses in Mindanao (GREAT-M) Project, which provides college scholarships to poor but deserving high school students in Muslim communities. The annual GREAT-M Project was created to address the problem of poverty among Filipino Muslim and indigenous communities. The new batch of GREAT-M beneficiaries were selected from the pool of high school graduates belonging to the upper five percent of the graduating class who took the Science and Technology Scholarship Examination administered by the DOST's Science and Education Institute (SEI) last December 2006. The qualifying students are from Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi and South Cotabato. DOST-SEI Director Ester Ogena said nine examinees have qualified to enroll in courses related to physics, chemistry, mathematics and teaching courses. Another 24 have qualified for the technician courses on automotive, computer and information technology, electronics, electrical and industrial automation. The names of the 2007 GREAT-M Project qualifiers are available online at the DOST-SEI scholarship website. The recipients will be taking their courses in identified universities in Mindanao. The students will be entitled to receive tuition and other school fees, book and transportation allowances, monthly stipend, group health and accident insurance, and provision for consumables for the technician qualifiers.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net IN 1994, then US Vice President Al Gore and several high level government officials started the Global Learning and Observations to the Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program, whose goal is to encourage scientists worldwide to share their research with students through an online community. It was part of the Earth Day Celebrations for that year. The GLOBE Program's main goal is to provide information in the protection and conservation of the earth's natural resources by encouraging current and future scientists to work together. Its founding members include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation. But what sets the GLOBE Program apart from other scientific communities is that it allows students to directly contact scientists on specific topics in a sort of mentorship system. Likewise, students and their teachers can follow up on projects with their own researches, then upload the information they gather so as to contribute to the pool of knowledge on specific topics. So far, 19,000 schools from 109 countries are part of the GLOBE Program, with 3,700 teachers trained. PSHS in action The Philippines is one of the earliest members of the GLOBE Program, having joined it in 1999. In smaller scale operations, the GLOBE-Philippines activities have so far been able to enlist around 64 schools, nine of which were from Philippine Science High School (PSHS) campuses that are managed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Philippine Science High School office-in-charge Deputy Executive Director Corazon Monica Sabio said that since joining the GLOBE program, PSHS has produced a good amount of scientific research posted on the GLOBE website. It has also trained four GLOBE master trainers, who are the highest ranking GLOBE member per country. "The GLOBE master trainers' responsibilities are to train other teachers on proper scientific approaches, updating information on the GLOBE website, and also ensuring quality control over information," Sabio said. In fact, Sabio added that the Philippines is the core group for other GLOBE master trainers in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand and Indonesia. There are already a few hundred GLOBE master trainers in the whole of Asia. Sabio said that GLOBE-Philippines member teachers and trainers would be given opportunity to update the website with research materials and local topics. In most cases, students can interact with established scientists who are members of the GLOBE website community. The response time for a query is usually around a few hours to about two days, though Sabio assured that nearly all queries are answered by the professionals, with words of encouragement to the aspiring student scientists. "Our goal is actually produce comprehensive information about the country's biodiversity, to encourage our young people to be part of conservation, not just as scientists but as members of the community. We also want our leaders to have an idea on how to legislate for the protection and conservation of our natural resources by using information that local people have gathered," Sabio said. Slow start Sabio, who is the country coordinator of GLOBE-Philippines, said the GLOBE-Philippines program is not without drawbacks among which includes the slow integration of new research in the country's high school science curriculum. "Students have to be given the knowledge and skill in collecting data using the scientific method. Without it, they would have to be retrained to ensure the quality of material they produce," Sabio said. Another major problem is the lack of financial assistance for some schools that do not have proper equipment especially for the laboratories. While the DOST has also donated equipment to some GLOBE-Philippines members, other schools have to wait for available budget or donations to buy new laboratory instruments." "We also saw a problem in connectivity; students and their teachers won't be able to upload new information or even ask for assistance from GLOBE Program scientists unless they have Internet connection," Sabio said. There is also some backlog in uploading information, according to Sabio, as lack of dedicated manpower is also causing some issues. "We're slowly resolving these problems, one at a time." New plans Sabio has identified a few plans of the DOST-PSHS for the GLOBE-Philippines program hopefully leading to a national implementation. Among these are looking for more sponsorships and donations for the procurement of field equipment and laboratory instruments, as well as getting people to manage data. They also plan to train more Globe master trainers who will spread their knowledge to other schools nationwide. "We should also recognize the source of local information to give them credit for their contributions. That way we can truly motivate younger people to conserve our country's natural resources," Sabio said.
THE COUNTRY held its first ever online ozone layer protection quiz, and two students from Philippine Science High School emerged victorious in the finals, earning the right to represent the Philippines in the Asia Pacific sub-regional quiz in Bangkok. Here's an excerpt from the PNA article that came out in Bayanihan.org:
This victory gave the tandem of Paulo Miguel Manzanilla and Lawrence Medina the right to represent the Philippines in the Asia-Pacific sub-regional ozone layer quiz in Bangkok, Thailand tentatively scheduled on June 30 this year, the DENR said.
Each of them will also receive a prize of PhP5,000 while their coach will get PhP10,000. The winning PSHS team will likewise receive roundtrip airline tickets and accommodation for the Bangkok competition.
STUDENTS and professors from De La Salle University are aiming for the next international event to conquer. This time it will be the prestigious World Solar Challenge in Australia, a competition that pits developers of solar-powered vehicles from around the world. Forty people from the DLSU and their corporate partners have been developing the first Philippine-made solar-powered car, which has been christened "Sinag" ("sunshine" in Filipino), that will be entered in the competition, which will be held in October 2007. In an interview with INQUIRER.net, Merritt Partners chairman and former energy secretary Vincent Perez said the development of the first Philippine-made solar-powered car that will be entered in the competition is one of the biggest undertakings related to energy development that brings together various private firms and an academic institution. Perez said the solar-powered car will pose a major challenge to DLSU as it has never created a vehicle that runs solely on solar energy. "That's why this group of private entities is working together to help them build this car." Perez added that the endeavor of building the solar-powered car and joining a major competition will be further proof of Filipino ingenuity. "It's our next Mount Everest," Perez said, referring to the three Filipina climbers who recently made history. Meanwhile, DLSU Manila chancellor Carmelita Quebengco said the school has been teaching subjects related to solar energy and alternative fuel, and the Sinag Project will be the best method to apply what the students have learned. She also said that while joining the World Solar Challenge will be an extremely grueling endeavor, the Sinag Project Team is not expected to win any award. "We're not looking to win but to finish the game and prove that we Filipinos can also do it." The World Solar Challenge is an annual event joined mostly by research and development teams from international universities. The goal is to race through 3,000 kilometers of open roads from Darwin to Adelaide with minimal maintenance on the solar-powered vehicle. DLSU Mechanical Engineering Department professor and head of the Sinag technical team Rene Fernandez said they already have the basic design for the car's monocoque shell, with the solar cells to be integrated to its upper surface. "SunPower provided the solar cells while Motolite provided the batteries. We already have the materials and equipment ready and hopefully, we finish before the October race," Fernandez said. Fernandez said that of the 40 people working on the car, 12 will go to Australia for the competition, four of whom will be the drivers. The car itself is expected to be unveiled by September. DLSU has partnered with about a dozen private entities to develop the Philippine-made solar car. Among these firms are Philippine Airlines, San Miguel Corp., Shell, Ventus, Ford Group, Motolite and solar panel manufacturer SunPower. Other partners include Aurora Cabrera Lavadia and Associates, JWT, Creasia, Merritt Partners, Gochermann Solar Technology, StratWorks and Tuason Training School.