By Marlon Mopon

The scientific ingenuity of the Filipino youth is once more at center stage.

Over 500 participants from different high schools nationwide gathered at UP Diliman for the Research Fair 2015 (RF 2015) – UP ALCHEMES’ annual scientific research conference. The three-day conference which began on Jan 22 was themed “POLYCHORE: Perceiving Beyond Established Scientific Frontiers”.

The Research Competition (RC), RF’s main event, showcased studies accomplished by the student scientists in four particular categories – Applied Science, Life Science, Physical Science and Mathematical Science.

Apart from the RC, participants were further exposed the exciting developments of the scientific world through the National Science Conquest (NSC) and the Youth Science Convention (YSC). NSC is three-day quiz bee which tested the students’ knowledge of scientific applications in different situations. Meanwhile, YSC offered a series of seminar-workshops focused on cultivating the students’ passion for research and show them the importance of youth scientists in nation building.

Event mechanics and RC pre-evaluation judges were presented on the Day 1 opening program. First set of simultaneous activities began in the afternoon. RC participants paraded their research in the Exhibit and Project Presentation stage conducted on the National Institute of Physics (NIP). Judges from different institutions and universities also evaluated the studies presented by the participants.

Meanwhile, NSC qualifying phase and YSC’s Revitalize and Edify seminars took place in the National Institute of Science and Mathematics Education (NISMED). The NSC qualifying phase included a set of theoretical and situational exams. Revitalize, on the other hand, featured topics on idea generation and recent breakthroughs in research. The seminar speakers included Dr. Reinabelle Reyes from the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science of Ateneo de Manila University, Dr. Alonzo Gabriel from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition of UP-Diliman, and Dr. Jose Enrico Lazaro from the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. Meanwhile, Edify speakers who tackled issues on increasing the scientific literacy of the Filipino youth include Dr. Edwehna Elinore Paderna-Gayon from the UP College of Education and Dr. Ricardo Nolasco from the UP Department of Linguistics.

Closed-door defense for the RC qualifiers took place in Day 2. The NSC activity line-up on the other hand focused on the laboratory exams. YSC Day 2 seminars include Voyage, Acclimate and Mercerize. Voyage speakers, Dr. Belinar Torechiva-Cuevas from the UP Diliman Office of Counseling and Guidance and Dr. Mikaela Irene Fudolig of NIP, talked about the transition from high school to college and things to consider in choosing a career. Engr. John Philip Lapidez and Engr. Ian Kaye Alejandrino of the the DOST-Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH), shared about scientific approaches in risk-disaster management in Acclimate. In order to improve the public speaking skills of the researchers, Mr. Niel Kenneth Jamandre from the Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts of UP Diliman and Mr. Nikko Pascua from UP Advertising Core (UP AdCore), shared pointers crucial to help the student scientist improve the way they relay their findings to the people in Mercerize.

The end of Day 2 offered the participants a break from the rush through the Acquaintance Night held at the National Engineering Center. The students get to interact with the other participants of the conference and build camaraderie with people who share their interest in science.

YSC closed on the third day with a seminar entitled Probe. The speaker, Dr. Carla Dimalanta from the National Institute of Geological Sciences, shared her insights the current state of research and development in the country. RC and NSC, on the other hand, are at their climax as their final rounds come into place. RC final judges include Engr. Ralph Reiniel Luzadas and Engr. Robert Kenneth de Guzman from the UP Department of Chemical Engineering, Dr. Leon Payawan Jr. from the Institute of Chemistry, and Dr. Benjamin Magbanua Jr. from the Industrial Technology Development Institute. NSC board of judges for the final phase include Engr. Kristian July Yap from the UP Department of Chemical Engineering, Dr. Regielene Gonzales from the UP Institute of Biology, and Mr. Marvin Flores from NIP.

RF 2015 ended with a closing ceremony on Day 3. Winners of the Research Competition and the National Science Conquest were announced during the ceremony.

The Research Fair Grand Champion Award was given to Catherine Joy Abella and Francis Anthony Homillano from the Philippine Science High School – Bicol Region Campus for their study entitled “Do-It-Yourself Low Cost Gel Electrophoresis Equipment”. The same study was declared champion on the Physical Science category.

For the Applied Science category, Elaine Claire Macaspac, Rianrey Patrick Munar, and Kyle Robert Pelaez from Philippine Science High School – Central Luzon Campus were awarded champions for their study “Preparation and Characterization of Poly(lactic) acid-based Film Reinforced with Cellulose Acetate and Silica from Agricultural Rice Wastes”.

Karol Ann Baldo from Negros Occidental National Science High School was the champion in the Life Science category with her study “Artemia Waste Water Media for Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) Production of Alcaligenes eutrophus H16: A Cost-Efficient Alternative Substrate for the Development of Bioplastic”.

The study entitled “Predicting the spread of Avian Influenza A in Central Luzon using the SIR (Susceptible-Infected-Recovered) Model” by Arvin Jarell Balajadia, Edjoline Castañeda, and Viviene Shane Villarico from Philippine Science High School – Central Luzon Campus topped the Mathematical Science category.

For the National Science Conquest special awards, Mikhail Angel Torio from the Philippine National High School – Main Campus was awarded Best in Theoretical Exam. Her team also won the Best in Situational Exam and Best in Practical Exam awards.

Overall, Philippine National High School – Main Campus was declared National Science Conquerors 2015. They were followed by Philippine Science High School – Central Luzon Campus and Pasig City Science High School.

In a closing message, the RF 2015 steering committee, in behalf of UP ALCHEMES, expresses their gratitude to the participants of the conference. It is their hope that the presence, ideas, and determination of the participants will be able to shape the landscape of science, technology and research, and bring the world to a whole new dimension.

The RF steering committee is headed by Jonah Anjelou Ecito and Ian Paolo Pe Benito. The other members of the team are Carla Mae Aquino, John Irvin Bautista, Jethro Daniel Pascasio, Nicole Catherin Chiu, Hubert Rae Gines, Jennielyn Aina de Leon, Angel Baluyut, Ludhovik Luis Madrid, Ramon Paolo Quintero, Franzielle Marie Conde and Peter Nicholas Onglao.

Research Fair 2015 was presented by Aseagas, All Good Cereals, Jack’n Jill Fun-O and Jack’n Jill Maxx together with Mogu Mogu Manila and in cooperation with The Mind Museum and Motolite. The organizers would also like to express their special thanks to Dong-A, Orix Metro, San Mig Super Coffee and SmartBro. RF 2015 media sponsors included BusinessWorld™, Manila Bulletin, Pacifiqa, Rappler, and WheninManila.