by Jolie Fong, Nwe Cherry Khine
After their triumph at the quarter finals with ACSI, Dunman High and Raffles Institution, the NUS High team made it to the semi-finals, where they faced two worthy competitors: SST and National Junior College. With the entire year three cohort having come down to Mediacorp’s studio to show their support, our four representatives, Clive Seet, Matthew Sim, Elden Yap and Yeo Shen Yong, appeared ready to put up a good fight against their powerful adversaries. The studio was filled with anticipation and excitement.
Making it to the semifinals was no fluke. The four participants had to undergo intensive training for a good number of months, while juggling their heavy pile of normal schoolwork. When asked how they were able to pull it off, Matthew replied, “It requires extensive time management skills. Even with those skills, a lot of pressure is placed on all 4 members of our team, the teachers and our seniors, because everybody is trying to gear us up as much as we can for NSC.’’
On top of that, representing one’s school in a competition that would be aired on national television was just as daunting. Clive explained, “Trust within our team is the main pillar of support. We have strong faith in one another’s abilities, allowing us to trust one another to handle their tasks well while we focus on our own. We often offer each other words of encouragement and support during worrying moments and times of turbulence, allowing us to maintain the self belief within ourselves.”
The first two rounds caught NUS High slightly off guard, with the team completing both rounds in third position. The first round, “What’s Your Hunch?” required them to think on their feet, and make an educated guess behind a certain phenomenon, such as how a spaghetti strand snaps! The second round was the usual experimental round, where they had to put to use their knowledge of mechanics to construct a ‘flying’ water rocket.
Despite the ranking, the NUSH’s morale remained sky high, with the supporters waving blue-green flags and cheering passionately for their schoolmates. The participants, meanwhile were completely focused and determined to claw their way back up the scoreboard as the competition went into its third round. Although they came up with a good answer to their question of how methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSAs) were able to genetically mutate, their score of 10 points still left them in third place, with SST in first place with a 7 point lead.
Our team regained momentum in the fourth round, “Rapid Response”, where the participants had to answer a series of questions within 20 seconds for each question. The questions tested the participants’ conceptual knowledge on different fields of sciences and the short time limit kept everyone on the edge of their seats. With each correct answer, the team gained confidence and was determined to decrease SST’s lead. Finally, it was down to the last few questions with 3 more points to overtake the leading school. All eyes were glued onto the stage – would the NUS High School team be able to emerge as champion and move on to the finals? Alas, despite their efforts, they did not manage to close the lead and finished in second place.
The nail-biting semifinals eventually drew to a close, with NUS High finishing with a score of 46 points. The spectators, though disappointed, continued to cheer for the competitors throughout the entire event, and certainly gained some takeaways from the experience of filming in the studio. Elden Yap reflected, “I have learnt that science isn’t just memorising facts behind the textbook. But rather, it’s more about explaining how the world works and coming up with solutions to solve real life problems.’’ Although NUSH did not make it to the finals, they certainly put up a good fight!