By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
Pupils and students of primary and secondary schools in Ondo State outclassed their colleagues from other states of the federation in the just concluded 2009 NNPC/Mobil/STAN National Science Quiz/Projects competition, the finals of which held last Saturday at UK Bello Arts Theatre, Minna, Niger State.

Representatives from Ondo State put up spectacular performances in all the categories of the competition and outshined other participants that came to represent their states, culminating in the emergence of the Sunshine State as the overall best performing state throughout the federation.

In written examination, Adegoke Daniel from Ondo State came first in Life Science as well as in Technology while Oludipe Lanre, also from the state, who clinched  the first overall position in written examination at secondary school level, came first in mathematics and in vocational sciences.

In Free Choice Project Category, Ondo State’s “Evaporative Charcoal for Perishable Food” was ranked the best while the state also came first in secondary quiz competition.
Young scholars from Osun State also did their state proud.

In primary science and mathematics, the state came second after beating ambassadors from Abia and Benue States, conceding the first position to Imo State.

Also, in primary school written examination, Odewole Ayodeji from Osun  came first overall and got second position in primary quiz. It emerged overall second best performing state.

Benue, which was rated overall third best state, also paraded brilliant pupils and students at the competition.

It had Moti Terngu who shared the first position in vocational sciences with Oludipe Lanre of Ondo State, Adewole Joseph who got first position in primary mathematics as well as Ahura Simeon, a teacher, whose project in “Multipurpose Solar Energy Device” was rated second best.

Imo is another state whose representatives also displayed scientific hardwork by coming first in primary school quiz. Its two delegates in this category, 11 year-old Nebolisa Malu-Chukwu and Divine Onyemobi, who are both primary 5 pupils of Ray Jacobs Primary School, Ngbidi, Imo State have flavour for Basic Science/Technology and Mathematics respectively.
Imo State was also ranked among the best in teachers’ project with the project of Mr. Osuji Emmanuel titled, ‘Bearing Demonstration Set” ranked third best.

Mobil Producing Nigeria which, in partnership with NNPC, has been sponsoring the Quiz/Projects competition for 14 consecutive years, showered cash on these pupils, students and teachers who participated in the event. The pupils who came first in primary science quiz went home with N100,000 while the second and third place winners each got N50,000.

In the secondary quiz category, the student who came first was given N100,000 while those who came second and third received N50,000 each. The winners of primary and secondary school projects also got N150,000 for first position winner and N50,000 each for second and third place winners.

For national theme project, the first position got N100,000 and second and third position N50,000 each. In addition, a trophy was given to each of the winning states while the winners also got a certificate each.

Teachers whose projects were adjudged excellent also smiled to bank. Baskemi Rhoda from Plateau State whose project “Purple Garbage Universal Indicator” won him first position got N100,000, Ahura Simeon from Benue State got N50,000 and Osuji Emmanuel also received N50,000.

The decision of NNPC/Mobil joint venture to sponsor the educational programme is informed by the need to inspire the pupils and students in pursuing careers in science, technology and mathematics.

While delivering her address at the reception and awards ceremony organised for the winners in Abuja on Monday this week, Gloria Essien-Danner, an Executive Director of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited said that Mobil’s sponsorship of the competition is in line with its long tradition of supporting education, particularly the study of science, mathematics and technology (STM).

She said: “Obviously, we have a vested interest in sustaining the study of these subjects, for the foundation of our industry is based on STM.

More importantly, however, is the fact that our country needs scientists and engineers with the right skill and values so that we can continue to compete in today’s highly competitive world. The future challenges we face call for a new generation of scientists to conquer new frontiers.

The oil and gas industry, for example, is one high-technology field that offers great professional challenges and opportunities for those with the skills and the values to compete to these scholars, I say, discover for yourself, and become part of the next generation of explorers.”

She counsels the young scientists on those qualities they are expected to exhibit before they can succeed as explorers.

“To succeed as a high-tech explorer requires more than strong technical skills – it requires strong values as well, a dedication to excellence in everything you do – a disciplined and efficient work ethics, a commitment to honesty and fair play, an intellectual curiosity for attempting new approaches to old problems, a willingness to learn from mistakes.”

The Public Affairs Advisor of Mobil, Mr. Adeyemi Fakayejo had earlier spoken  in the same vein while addressing the participants and STAN delegates in Minna last Saturday.

According to him, the sponsoring of the quiz/projects competition by Mobil is a thing of joy to the company, adding that the brilliant performances of pupils and students from across the country in the competition have been a source of inspiration to Mobil.

Fakayejo explained that the competition provides a valuable opportunity to focus on the importance of the sciences at a time Nigeria aspires to technological leadership.
He said: “As we are aware, Nigeria plans to be amongst the world’s leading 20 economies by the year 2020.

This is a very important national development projection, and one to which science and technology are expected to make significant contributions.”

The Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN), according to him, need to make constant progress in science and technology as science and technology are vital to Nigeria as a nation.

“Both are essential to  nearly all aspects of economic life, and are great enablers of human progress. It is important that Nigeria continues to put in place a strategy for sustaining interest in the sciences and technology.

And programme such as the National Science Quiz and Projects competition will help the cause, by inspiring our children to explore and pursue careers in the sciences”, says Fakayejo, adding that by supporting education, especially STM, Mobil is making an investment in the nation’s future by establishing the next generation of science professionals and equipping them with a strong foundation for the future. Mobil, he says, is therefore pleased to see how successful STAN has become over the years and its dedication to success in promoting science education.

In fact, the theme chosen for the 50th annual STAN conference which held from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th of August in Minna was informed by the need for the country’s educational system to provide functional value for national development.
Tagged “Developing Entrepreneurial Skills Through Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) Education”, the theme, according to the president of STAN, Dr. Lawrence Achimugu, is very apt considering the efforts of STAN to provide the type of STM education that will ensure that Nigeria  meets the challenges of the 21st century knowledge – based society, adding that STAN is positioning itself to contribute more meaningfully and sustainably to national goals, especially within the frameworks of NEEDS, MDGs and Vision 20:2020.

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