Special Programme in Science (SPS)

SPS students won the 8th International Natural Science Tournament

Photo 1: The winning Team MICKS comprising (from left to right): Kim Mu Young (Physics), Jessie Wong Ling Ai (Life Science), Li Beiye (Chemistry), and Amelia Gunawan (Chemistry)

The 8th International Natural Sciences Tournament (INST) was held in Agra, India from 29th January to 3rd February 2018. INST is a team competition for undergraduate students where invited participants provide innovative solutions for as-yet- unsolved scientific problems and situations in industry. Through this tournament, participants learn how to apply their interdisciplinary knowledge to solve current scientific and industrial problems by presenting and defend their new scientific ideas. Special Programme in Science (SPS) students first participated in INST 2016, which was held in Novosibirsk, Russia. This year, SPS was represented by Team MICKS, comprising of year 2 Science undergraduate students : Kim Mu Young (Physics), Jessie Wong Ling Ai (Life Science), Li Beiye (Chemistry), and Amelia Gunawan (Chemistry), mentored and coached by both Mr Max Tan Jin Hui, a year 3 Chemistry student and Dr Robert Lieu Zi Zhao, a lecturer with SPS and the Department of Biological Science.

Finalists were chosen based on their performance during the extramural round; after which, they presented and debated their solution in Agra during the finals. The finalists were expected to present their innovative solutions and actively participated in active scientific discussions and debates to explain their solutions. Some interesting problems presented during this year’s INST include curing Alzheimer’s using phagocytosis, coming up with a standard to calculate the complexity of an organic chemical synthesis, presenting a method to generate power to charge our phones using the human body and others. The tournament is also a platform to form collaborations between participants, established scientists and industry experts.

Photo 2: Team MICKS posing happily with their fellow INST participants and new-found friends

"It was such a great experience, we learned how to solve real-life problems like Taj Mahal that is now turning yellow due to pollution. We also built a broader network with great people there, learned how to hone our critical thinking. It was great experience" - Amelia

"In preparing and presenting the solutions to the various questions, I have learnt much about elements in Biology, Chemistry and Engineering; truly, INST lies in line with the interdisciplinary nature of SPS. All in all, it was an unforgettable experience that I don't regret being a part of" - Kim Mu Young

Photo 3: Team MICKS taking a group photo in front of the iconic Taj Mahal

"Firstly, I was really pleased and surprised that we won the champion in the end because all the efforts are really paid off! Besides the great result, this India trip left me with a lot of memories as well, like the exotic culture of India and friends from Russia and India I met. I would like to thank INST sincerely, not only offering me a chance to go to India physically, but also teaching me to think and evaluate one question more in depth. I also believe it is a good opportunity to broaden up my horizon and get exposed to new science areas which I do not have much prior knowledge on!" - Li Beiye (Coco)

"Debating about science outside of our comfort zone was the best thing i've learnt in this entire journey" – Jessie

"Mentoring the team was a tiring but a highly rewarding experience. As a mentor I now participate in teamwork more passively: while the team were actively answering the questions and working on their team dynamics, I provided background support in terms of technical knowledge and administrative/ logistics support. Of course having taken part in the competition myself in 2016, I shared their fears and excitements. Ultimately it was extremely comforting to see that they have grown closer together as a team and developed organizational skills that cannot be simply learnt in the classroom" – Max