Chung Hwa KB wins 17th Young Scientist Award

National 2 minutes, 59 seconds


HER Royal Highness Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah yesterday presented prizes to the winners of the 17th Princess Rashidah Young Nature Scientist Award (PRYNSA 17), crowning Chung Hwa Middle School in Kuala Belait (CHMS KB) as this year’s champion.

The royal patron was accompanied to The Rizqun International Hotel by Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah.

CHMS KB’s study, titled ‘Diversity of Benthic Diatoms and Water Quality along the Mouth of Sungai Belait’, was described as “an eye opener for the very important role of diatoms as environmental indicators of water pollution” by the school principal, Hong Geok Cheng.

In the project brief, she claimed “the discovery of these minute wonders is the first report of benthic diatoms of Sungai Belait”.

The winning school received a cash prize of $4,000, trophies and certificates for their study involving an assessment of the habitat as a potential biological site, measurement of different environmental parameters, determination of biodiversity indices and correlation of water quality.

A total of 799 benthic diatoms were isolated, characterised and identified based on taxa by morphology, while 16 genera were identified in the preliminary findings.

Sayyidina Umar Al-Khattab Secondary School came in second with their project on ‘The Tangle Roots of Pulau Si-Bungur’, followed by Rimba Secondary School II in third with their study on ‘The Effect of Urbanisation on the Distribution of Ghost Crabs in Brunei Beaches’.

The second and third place winners were awarded a cash prize of $3,000 and $2,000 respectively along with trophies and certificates.

Meanwhile, St John’s School and Sultan Hassan Bangar Secondary School received consolation prizes of $1,000 cash each as well as trophies and certificates. All the cash prizes for the competition were sponsored by Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd (BSP).

The projects were judged based on criteria such as relevance to national development, applicability or impact of results and scientific value.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, said the studies are significant contributors to strategies and programmes on biodiversity management.

“Their findings are useful starting points for further research and policy development in strengthening our conservation and development strategies,” he said in his welcoming remarks.

He added the recommendations are important inputs in Brunei’s aggressive actions in economic diversification of natural resources, while the research can be an instrument in fulfilling the government’s commitment to the Convention of Biological Diversity 2020 Aichi Targets.

The minister also noted that PRYNSA has contributed to the raising of mindset of the young generation towards a deeper understanding of the nation’s biological diversity.

On the natural resource management side, YB Pehin Dato Hj Yahya said the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) will continue to implement conservation policies to safeguard the forests and biodiversity whilst promoting sustainable development.

“It is very important for us to be consistent and firm in our conservation efforts that we do not allow exploitation and misuse of our natural resources,” he said.

During the awards ceremony, HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah and HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah viewed a mini exhibition on the projects.

The royal patron also received a pesambah from the Forestry Department under MIPR.

This year, 26 project proposals were submitted for the competition. However, only five schools were selected in the final round.

Organised by MIPR since 1997, PRYNSA aims to nurture excellence among the young generation with a focus on the field of natural sciences. The prestigious competition is open to all secondary schools nationwide.

The Brunei Times