The first-ever National Youth Science, Technology, and Innovation Festival (NYSTIF) was held at the PICC Forum Tent last October 25 to 28. Spearheaded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the four-day event aimed to celebrate the works of local scientists and generate interest in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) among senior high school and college students.
Wealth of knowledge
The festival kicked off with a seminar on the relationship between STEM and the arts. Dr. Josette Biyo, director of the Science Education Institute, unveiled her paintings to the audience, emphasizing that integrating science and art can improve people’s capacity for problem solving, collaboration, and empathy.
After her presentation, the panel discussion AI at SciComm: Recipe for Success or Disaster? began. Radyo Henyo Executive Producer Ruby Roan-Cristobal moderated the talk, while five experts in science communication gave their insights on the impact of artificial intelligence in their field.
The second day of the festival began with the Youth Innovators Program, a platform that allowed student researchers to present their promising studies in the industry, energy, and emerging technology sectors. Some of the standout projects came from Team Crunchlets of Quezon City Science High School, Team SalmMarlex of Philippine Science High School (PSHS) – Main Campus, and Team PACMAN of Vinzons Pilot High School.
This was followed by the talk If you know, you know: Nuclear is the way to go, which marked the second nuclear youth forum in the country. The forum was first conducted in 2019 to promote careers in the field. Abigaile Mia Hila and Angel Bautista VII, two researchers at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, explained how nuclear technology is employed in healthcare equipment and food authentication, respectively.
On the third day of the festival, the seminar Maagang Aksyon at Akmang Gawin Ayon sa Panahon forda Youth kicked off with six resource speakers from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to provide useful information on natural calamities, disaster preparedness, and forecasting frameworks implemented by the agency.
Weather observer Lordnico Mendoza transported the audience to a virtual planetarium presenting celestial bodies observed in the night sky. Engr. Bernard Punsalan II, PAGASA International Science Relation Officer, then discussed weather phenomena in the country, such as thunderstorm, hail, tornado, lightning strikes, Northeast monsoon (Amihan), Southwest monsoon (Habagat), shear line, landslide, Intertropical Convergence Zone, and tropical cyclones.
Weather specialist Rhea Celeste Torres also explained the processes of formulating weather forecasts, tropical cyclone warnings, and bulletins issued by PAGASA. Her discussion focused on how the agency plots and analyzes the weather data obtained from synoptic stations. Meanwhile, weather specialist Renier Agas expounded on weather advisories and warning systems and their importance in informing the public about the state of calamity in the country.
Due to its geographical setting and topographical location, the Philippines experiences natural disasters including excessive flooding, as explained by weather facilities specialist Adelaida Duran in her talk about warning systems in Metro Manila. Weather specialist Joey Figuracion wrapped up the program with a discussion on the El Niño Southern Oscillation alert and warning system employed by the agency to prepare for the extreme episodes of weather variability experienced in the country—watch, alert, advisory, and final advisory.
The series of seminars capped off with exhilarating and palpable experiments by Street Science founder Steve Liddell. His interactive program focused on demonstrating how humans perceive color, how airplanes stay up in the air, and how objects change in states.
Competitions also highlighted the wide-ranging applications of STEM. Stitch-off was a streetwear-making competition organized by the DOST-Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI). Iloilo Science and Technology University clinched the top prize with their collection Threads of Heritage.
Meanwhile, FlexPHD: Food is Life Exemplified for Planetary Health Diet was a mobile application development contest. Team M1RAG3 of the University of the Philippines Los Baños emerged victorious with their app HEAL-PH, which was designed to help students develop healthy eating habits.
Students also showcased their talents through their music video competition entries in Indak Agham Himig Kaunlaran. The winning piece was titled PINAS-Sulong: Himig at Indak ng Agham, an anthemic song made by the PSHS – CALABARZON Campus.
Of brains and machinery
Exhibits also graced the festival’s grounds throughout the event. Divided into four main clusters—Nature, Future of Education, Emerging Technologies, and Wellness and Well-being—the place brimmed with informative booths for people to enjoy.
Under the Wellness and Well-being cluster were the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD)’s booths for mental health. Among these was NeuRoTech-SIGLA, a research project funded by DOST-PCHRD and implemented by the De La Salle University-Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies. Grounded by the concept “Ibalik ang sigla”, it aims to develop a neurofeedback therapy solution for those diagnosed with depression. The system employs depression recognition and analysis with brain signals that could potentially lead to virtual reality-based therapy.
(Restore the enthusiasm for life.)
Other notable booths include DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s nutrition-centered spread of children-friendly comics, activity books, and storybooks. Meanwhile, the DOST-PTRI invited visitors to weave digitally or physically.
Stemming from the facts
The Nature cluster joined in as DOST’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development proudly presented their musical instruments, chairs, and wall clocks born of engineered bamboo.
Curious and kinesthetic minds, on the other hand, had the option to try PAGASA’s augmented reality (AR) flood simulators. With the AR terrain and kinetic sand on display, visitors entertained themselves with personalized structures and rain intensities. Playing at welcomed expectations was the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology earthquake, tsunami, and volcano simulators.
Finally, DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) presented a wide selection of trivia games and coloring activities about Siargao’s flora and fauna.
The more you know
While all of the booths undoubtedly stood to educate visitors, the Education cluster pivoted toward how science education should be delivered on a massive scale.
Starring at the backend of the entire feat stood DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute and their developing mobile application. They asked challenging scientific and mathematical questions sparing the audience only a fraction of a minute to answer. Meanwhile, the PSHS brought with them physical-borne mental challenges, sporting a STEM-oriented escape room with answer keys to riddles, challenges, and questions.
Behind the escape room awaited impossible puzzles by the DOST, where challengers were also encouraged to perform a mock broadcast for their daily STEM online television.
Before time catches on
The Emerging Technologies cluster featured DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI)’s Robot for Optimized and Autonomous Mission-Enhancement Response (ROAMER). Running through plantations, ROAMER can identify plant diseases in hopes of preventing their spread. Also in the agricultural scoop laid the developing Gul.ai, a plant box with a variety of sensors to monitor crop growth.
Joining DOST-ASTI was the DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center and their Advanced Mechatronics, Robotics, and Industrial Automaton Laboratory (AMERIAL) facility. Its booth showcased a robotic arm made to assist manufacturing industries and the agricultural sector. A technology in a similar realm was the Multiple Applications for Reality-Virtuality Experiences Laboratory (MARVEL) from the Our Lady of Fatima University. While the real goal of MARVEL’s AR headset is to provide life support for patients, OLFU entertained visitors with a game of leading a character home via a single floating floorboard.
Lastly, DOST’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen) had a booth that showcased real-time 3D printing. Decorated by spreads of already-completed figurines, AMCen’s booth transfixed artistic engineers with color. Before visitors bid their goodbyes, AMCen hosted a single-question game for a free 3D-printed souvenir.