Saturday, June 06, 2009

Kevin Jer David & Orven Jules Dumaoang (Pisay09) win at Intel ISEF competition :)

Way to go, Jer & OJ!!!

O ayan OJ, ha, may greeting din kayo :P

Go libaaag :D

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4 Pinoy studes win awards in US science fair

By Edson C. Tandoc Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:04:00 06/06/2009

Filed Under: Good news, Awards and Prizes, Science (general), Education, Animals

MANILA, Philippines—Four Filipino high school students have won prizes in an international science competition proving that science education is alive and well and thriving in the Philippines.

Sixteen-year-old Jovani Tomale’s passion for numbers is helping save the Philippine Eagle and has earned for him second prize in the Animal Sciences category during the International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) held in the United States last month.

Two other high school science projects won in the Intel ISEF competition: One by Kevin Jer David, 16, and Orven Jules Dumaoang, 16, and another by Angela Joyce Yap-Dy, 14.

The annual contest, sponsored by Intel Corp., brought together some 1,600 students from 50 countries. Nine students from the Philippines competed by presenting six science projects.

Tomale came up with a mathematical formula to help identify the sex of an eagle, proving that tinkering with numbers and equations is both fun and relevant.

“This is my share to save the Philippine Eagle,” Tomale told the Inquirer.

His project started with a simple field trip more than a year ago when he was still a senior high school student at the Davao City National High School in Davao del Sur.

Listening to talks by officials of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), a Davao City organization that aims to save Philippine Eagles from extinction, Tomale was struck by a simple problem that hampers the breeding of eagles in captivity.

“It was hard for them to determine the gender of an eagle,” he said.

Visual sexing

The foundation usually resorted to what it called “visual sexing” or determining gender by observing the eagle for several days, a method that is very susceptible to error.

“This problem led me to think of something to help the foundation,” Tomale said.

The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is a huge, broad-winged forest raptor endemic to Luzon, Leyte, Samar and Mindanao. It is one of the world’s largest and rarest eagles. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists the Philippine Eagle as “critically endangered.”

It was difficult to identify the sex of the Philippine Eagle because male and female have the same physical features, Tomale explained.

If there was an easier and faster way to tell an eagle’s sex, this could help increase its threatened population.


Tomale worked with his uncle Vladimir Kobayashi, an applied mathematics graduate of the University of the Philippines, who taught him the basic principles of statistics.

Several months later, he came up with a formula that included information like the length of an eagle’s bill and leg. His formula correctly identified the sex of at least 17 eagles.

Tomale has given his formula to the PEF. He said he would pursue his love for numbers by taking up accountancy at the Ateneo de Davao University.

Other winners

Winning the grand prize in the Plant Sciences category were David and Dumaoang, both graduates of the Philippine Science High School. The two, who are incoming medical students at the University of the Philippines, studied how disease-causing bacteria can “communicate.” By being able to disrupt the communication, they can prevent the disease-causing bacteria from becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Meanwhile, Dy won a special second prize award from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. She discovered that milkfish bile, which is usually discarded when cooking, could be converted into an anti-cancer drug. It works especially against lung and colon cancers, which are among the top killers in the world.

Intel presented the winners in a press conference yesterday.

Real science

Education Undersecretary Vilma Labrador said the four students represented that 20 million public school students who “are doing their best.”

Labrador noted: “Is the quality of education falling down? ... This is a proof [that it is not].”

David, one of the grand prize winners, said his experience in the international contest showed him that science “is not just memorizing concepts, real science is when you get to answer your own questions.”

He said the country “needs more scientists” and while he acknowledged that support for science research in the country has been increasing, “there is still room for improvement.”

Intel’s higher education manager for corporate affairs Joselito Tulao said the contest aimed to “develop science and technology in the country.”

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