Cebu SciHi Students Become the ONLY Grand Prize Winners from PH at the 2024 International Science and Engineering Fair in L.A.

The Philippine education system has faced criticism recently due to learning poverty and low proficiency levels among children, regardless of their social class, location, gender, home language, type of school, or early childhood education. This issue was highlighted in a report by the Second Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom II) titledMiseducation: The Failed System of Philippine Education.

With this F mark, one might question if there is still hope for the Philippines, considering that “our best learners are comparable only to the average students in Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and Vietnam—and correspond to the worst performers in Singapore.” However, the recent success of students from Cebu City National Science High School brings a ray of light to this gloomy outlook.

Students from Cebu City National Science High School Win in the World’s Largest Global Science Competition

At the recent Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, California, three students from Cebu City National Science High School won fourth place in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category. Each year, the ISEF brings nearly 2,000 high school students from 75 countries to showcase their innovative science projects. 

Out of all the entries from the Philippines, only the research done by Michaela Rentuza, Mikaella Macabata, and Wesly Secuya, “Chico Bark Extract as Embryogenesis Inhibitor,” which evaluated the embryogenesis inhibition activity of ethanolic extracts of tannin-rich chico (Manilkara zapota) bark against gastrointestinal strongyle eggs through in vitro and silico methods, made a grand prize win for the country this year.

A program by the Society for Science, this event encourages millions of students to explore their passion for scientific inquiry. Regeneron ISEF finalists get the chance to compete for nearly $9 million in awards and scholarships.

The Philippine team consisted of 12 finalists from Cebu City National Science High School, City of Bogo Senior High School, Mandaue City Science High School, Quezon City Science High School, Angeles City Science High School, and Tarlac National High School. Alongside Rentuza, Macabata, and Secuya, Arnon Yzabel Guzman Guinto from Tarlac National High School also received the National Geographic Society award. Her project, “3D Groundwater Flooding Simulation of Tarlac City,” was recognized for its innovative use of geographic concepts and technology to protect the environment.

As the third most vulnerable nation to natural disasters globally, the Philippines faces increasing threats from typhoons and floods, leading to loss of life, property damage, and economic setbacks. Guinto’s proposal focuses on developing a 3D spatio-temporal Geographic Information System (GIS) and hydrodynamic model tailored to simulate flood scenarios in Tarlac City. This advanced approach aims to enhance flood prediction and risk assessment, offering vital insights for managing flood-related challenges in the area.

With rapidly evolving societal, environmental, and technological challenges, traditional approaches may need fresh ideas from the new generation. The projects presented by these students not only highlight their creativity but also provide real solutions to urgent issues in our country. May this achievement serve as a beacon, inspiring our leaders to enhance the educational system of the country.

By doing so, we can create more opportunities for young Filipinos to explore their potential in science and technology, fostering resilience and progress. As cliché as it may sound, Rizal’s words still ring true: “The youth is the hope of our nation”—and it is our responsibility to guide and empower them on their path forward.