A period of elemental challenge

Guest Post by Hoe Kian Guang, Student at Raffles Junior College. His teammates were Samuel Fong, Alden Tan & Tan An Sen.
The Shell Singapore Youth Science Festival (SSYSF) is a national event jointly organised by Science Centre Singapore, the Science Teachers’ Association of Singapore and the Shell Companies in Singapore. Since its inception, SSYSF has become an integral part of the schools’ calendar with over 100,000 students (across Primary, Secondary and Pre-University levels) and educators participating in its activities annually.
One of the competitions during the Festival is the Shell Elemental Challenge. Students are challenged to be creative and test their resourcefulness. Teams are required to make models that can bring out the characteristics of various elements. Hoe Kian Guang, a member of the winning team, shares with us his experience during the Shell Elemental Challenge.

Shell Elemental Challenge - Oxygen
Our model representing Oxygen

2011 is the International Year of Chemistry (~IYC) and this has certainly piqued the interests of students worldwide who are fascinated by Chemistry. Little wonder then when we heard about this competition were we soon clamouring to participate, motivated out of our mutual interests in sharing in the global spirit of discovery and learning about the wonders of Chemistry.

The competition certainly was unconventional by most standards, requiring a giant periodic table and model-exhibits for the elements, but this only compelled us further in our interest in Chemistry together. A challenge that we gratefully accepted, as for all its unconventionality and quirkiness, we knew it actually entailed a rather fun and excitable learning process. There were a few bumps, invariably, from sailing in uncharted waters, but with the guidance of our teacher-mentor Mrs Yau and our mantra “Simplicity is bliss” our model slowly took shape.

We were undoubtedly a tad surprised to eventually learn that we had emerged at the fore, despite the intensely strong competition and the small Rafflesian presence (i.e only us). But more importantly, we enjoyed a far greater sense of satisfaction in the camaraderie we saw in the neighbouring teams, the marvel we felt as we left impressed viewing the many wondrous models and the tacit pleasure of finally understanding the warmth behind the cheers and catcalls in the Maxwell Auditorium that greeted so many grinning faces that day. The spirit of discovery and exploration, borne through pioneering steps in a foreign direction, certainly greeted us that day.

Shell Elemental Challenge
Our Team

We would like to thank the infinitely patient lab technicians, Mrs Yau and our fellow group-mates for their gracious tolerance, help and support through trying times in preparing for this competition.

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