Students Who Won Gold Medal In ‘ISIF 2019’ Reflect On Their Country’s Environmental Crisis

Environmental crisis does not only disturb adults; even kids are troubled with the fact that the world needs collective efforts to prevent the spread of waste pollution. Four students from SJK (Tamil) Ladang Prye, Penang are making considerable changes to save our mother nature. Their inventions won a gold award at the recent International Science and Invention Fair (ISIF) 2019 that took place in Bali, Indonesia.

These 12-year-old geniuses namely Harrish Raj Shanker, Harchana Changaiah, Siti Zumaidah Abdul Rahman, and Theva Tharsini Seekan repurposed orange peels and coconut shells into water filters, teeth whitener agents, as well as, odor remover sachets.

The six-day competition is composed of young and creative scientists coming from different parts of the world to participate in this year’s ultimate battle of prodigies. ISIF is an international-level scientific competition that requires students’ insights, intellect, and abilities in applying their knowledge about science. Today’s competition started from June 21 and will end one the 26th.

During an interview, Harrish said that their primary source of inspiration comes from the littered coconut shells and waste of orange peels during Chinese New Year that scattered everywhere. With these rubbishes, the kids were able to optimize the ‘3R’ – reduce, reuse, and recycle, which help them bagged the gold in the competition.

Their inventions made an impact on the judges who found the project very helpful in the world’s battle to reduce environmental waste. Not only that, but it also promotes the strengthening of 3R in every country through repurposing waste materials that contribute to global warming.

But creating such inventions requires perseverance and hardwork. Based on the team’s science teacher, N Pugeneswari, it took a month of brainstorming before they come up with the said projects. Guided by their teachers and assisted by school cleaners, the kids formulated a revolutionary invention that can help save the world on its fight against pollution.

These kids are not new to the environmental issues that their nation faces nowadays. In a much broader aspect, they brought with them the alarming news of the country’s ongoing problem. Recently, Malaysia was named as one of the world’s worst countries for pollution, particularly plastic wastes. A large number of plastics are thrown without going through proper disposal, some are burnt, and only two percent is being recycled.

While other countries account their trash from its people and industries, Malaysia has a different case. It imported nearly half a million tons of plastic waste in the first half of 2018, according to a report from Greenpeace Malaysia. Currently, it receives wastes from 19 countries which, according to a recent investigation, dumped or burnt plastic wastes without following the processes of recycling.

Last month, Malaysia’s government decided to return almost 450 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste from countries that shipped it — a refusal that shows Malaysia’s complete realization that its land is becoming a dumping ground for the world’s trash. The said rejection started when nine shipping containers at Port Klang were unable to label the wastes thus resulted in a total rebuff properly.

Other than the pollution created by foreign wastes, Malaysia faces a bigger problem with its environment. Sadly, Malaysia takes other countries’ scraps even though it can’t handle its own. Although last year, it banned plastic waste imports as part of the country’s broader effort to clean up the environment. However, it never solved the issue due to its wrongdoings, after all. The government has recently exposed a list of local factories that illegally burnt and dumped plastic wastes, without even practicing proper waste disposal.

These factories are the major contributors to the growing pollution that the country faces nowadays. Some of them were shut down already as ordered by the government since it produced toxic waste materials that affected the people. Licensed factories are now under observation, and officials promised to close more if pollution continues.

Malaysia needs more than a temporary ban; it has to strengthen its monitoring and enforcement policies and practices for both local and international companies. According to Greenpeace, Malaysia should practice the process of recycling its wastes first before taking other countries’ trashes. This includes implementing better waste collection processes and teaching people the importance of waste disposal management.

More importantly, these kids who won a gold medal only mirror what humans can do to save our planet from destruction, regardless of age. Now that ISIF 2019 happened, the country is lucky to send those kids and compete with other young geniuses. For some, it is only a competition, but for Malaysia, it’s a massive step towards a greener and a cleaner place to live in.

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