SA wins gold in global science olympiad

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IOL cw Science Olympiads-0777 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS GOLDEN BOYS: Star College pupils Isma-eel Jakoet, left, and Arshad Sayed show-off the gold medals they won at the International Science Project Olympiad in Indonesia after their pollution filtration project took first place in the enviroment category of the competition. Picture: Che Overmeyer

Cape Town - Seeing off pupils from Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and other countries, two 15-year-old boys from the Star College in Sybrand Park have brought home gold medals from an international Science Olympiad.

Isma-eel Jakoet and Arshad Sayed took the first prize in the environmental category of the International Science Project Olympiad, with a project to filter exhaust gases. It uses used teabags to filter the carbon monoxide emitted by car exhausts and releases clean air.

The Olympiad in Jakarta this month saw pupils from 10 countries demonstrate projects to judges from the Indonesian ministry of education and local universities.

With almost 100 pupils taking part in the five categories – biology, physics, environment, chemistry and technology – Isma-eel and Arshad said hearing their names called out for first prize was a feeling they would never forget.

“Getting a gold medal was my favourite part of the trip; we put a lot of hard work into our project,” Arshad said.

Arshad added that the environment category had the most entrants, with 32 of the 96 pupils.

“There was this one Sri Lankan boy who discovered a cure for leukaemia that works better than chemotherapy, but that didn’t make us nervous.”

Despite all the competition at the Olympiad, Isma-eel said making friends from across the world had been a highlight.

“I will miss the friends we made, Starbucks and the feeling of getting the gold medal, that is something you can’t experience again.”

He said they had received a lot of suggestions on how to improve their project from the judges.

“Hopefully we will be able to introduce it to car companies so they can start to use the project, but now we want to focus on our exams.”

Their principal, Mahmut Ozer, said they had aimed for at least a silver medal, but were overjoyed at getting gold.

“The idea for this project was presented before, but it was improved by Arshad and Isma-eel. Gold is always what you secretly hope for, but my mind was around getting silver,” said Ozer.

The pupils and their principal arrived back in Cape Town on Tuesday to proud families and fellow pupils.

“We had a welcome ceremony at the school and praised them, and pointed them out as role models to the other pupils,” Ozer said. - Weekend Argus

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