“Our students have a big potential of becoming future engineers because they were able to convert pig manure into gas for cooking,” says Dianne Garcia, a chemistry teacher of Barangka National High School (BNHS) in Marikina City. “Project Tuklas opened the minds of our students to many ideas and then made them realized that their science project idea is possible.”
Garcia was referring to her third year high school students who compose a team that made it to the finals of Project Tuklas because of their project on “feces energy” was feasible. The contest, being conducted by the student organization AIESEC Philippines and sponsored by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (Shell), aims to find the brightest public high school students who will be given engineering scholarships by the Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev).
Garcia adds that members of the team – June Ashley Malto, Ada Louise Lique, Mary Rose Gambala, Monica Esguerra and Kathleen Ventura — can become engineers or scientists some day because Project Tuklas taught them the skills needed for such a profession.
“At first, they didn’t know how to make a project proposal. They also don’t have any idea on how to do their chosen project because they have never joined a science project contest before,” says Garcia. “Project Tuklas taught them how to make a project proposal and do an investigatory project. It also helped them overcome their shyness and become self-confident.”
AIESEC Philippines provided a foreign engineering student to guide the BNHS teams on their projects. Ukrainian Alexander Chernyshov mentors the students at BNHS. Garcia and the parents of the student contestants also helped the teams in finding the materials and building the prototype of their projects.
PhilDev, AIESEC Philippines and Shell are tapping public high schools as sources of future engineers through Project Tuklas, which was launched last year. Their belief in the potential of students as innovators was confirmed after 32 teams from 18 public high schools in Metro Manila totaling 200 students submitted projects that hewed to the contest’s theme “Future of Energy.” The BNHS has a second team of third year students, who made it to the preliminary round of Project Tuklas with their project on producing cooking fuel from janitor fish carcass.
Public school students are as competent as their counterparts in private schools in conceptualizing novel science projects. This is so because science education in public schools has improved a lot from the traditional lecture-type and book-based teaching in the past to today’s hands on-intensive and technology-supported laboratory lessons. The use of computers, CD or DVD players, projectors and the Internet in teaching and learning science lessons make students more knowledgeable in chemistry, physics, biology and other science subjects, according to Garcia.
Garcia admits that BNHS, which was established only three years ago, still lacks textbooks and has no laboratory. But she says public school science teachers and students alike are now more resourceful to cope with such limitations. In her case, she uses real-life analogy to explain lessons while her students bring readily available materials for scientific experiments. Also, books are shared by students and experiments are done in the classroom. The strategy appears to work considering that BNHS students reached the Project Tuklas final round in the school’s first-ever participation in a science project contest.
As to why the Project Tuklas contestants came up with simple, plant-based projects like producing bio-ethanol from durian or biodiesel from squash, Garcia explains that most public school students come from low-income families making them easily inspired by ideas or innovations that are less costly to prototype.
There are already 50 public high school students who qualified to receive an engineering scholarship from PhilDev by reaching the finals of Project Tuklas. Whether or not the BNHS team’s project makes the school the champion, the contest has proven the importance of public high schools in nurturing the country’s future engineers.
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Photo and caption (grabbed from PT FB page)
The team members of Barangka National High School (in uniform) with their teacher, Dianne Garcia (2nd from right) and representatives of AIESEC Philippines.
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