By Rafael Espiritu
Each year, millions Filipino youth commit to higher education with a prime goal of ultimately being part of the professional work force and slowly carve a brighter future for them and their families. In a third world country with an emerging economy like the Philippines, it is both understandable and unfortunate that only a small fraction of these college students pursue college degrees in natural sciences. For instance in 2011-2012, barely 1.3% or roughly 40,000 from 3 million incoming college freshmen enrolled in natural sciences courses, including mathematics. To circumvent this undesirable statistics of disinterests in the sciences the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies (PFCS) holds annual on-the-spot poster making contest for elementary school students to instill interest in Chemistry and the natural sciences in general, at an early age.
The PFCS is the umbrella organization of five professional Chemistry societies in the country: Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas (KKP), Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP), Organic Chemistry Teachers Association (OCTA), Philippine Association of Chemistry Teachers (PACT), and the Philippine Association of Chemistry Students (PACS). PFCS aims to upturn the students’ awareness in chemistry and advocate national and social issues to improve the country’s competence in Chemistry. To achieve these goals, PFCS reaches out to the different sectors of society, specifically targeting the youth and their inquisitive mind for science.
The Children on-the-spot Poster Making Contest was first staged on December 8, 2011 in the University of Santo Tomas spearheaded by Dr. Fortunato Sevilla, III. This activity was co-sponsored by UNESCO and conducted celebrate the 2011 International Year of Chemistry. A brief primer explaining the contest’s theme proceeded the poster-making session proper. With the successful outcome and positive feedback coming from the participants, other tertiary institutions expressed their desire to participate in this event in promoting Chemistry and the natural sciences. In the following year, the contest, was held on February 13, 2012, and saw the inclusion of De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines, with the University Santo Tomas, as simultaneous venues for the contest and encouraged more schools to participate. Each of the four universities were asked to invite school-participants from designated regions in and around NCR. By the third year, the host schools expanded to nine institutions including two each from the Visayas (Silliman University and University of San Carlos) and Mindanao (Ateneo de Davao University and Xavier University), making the event truly a national one. Another institute from Mindanao, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, participated in the recently-concluded 4th edition of the contest, bringing to ten the number of institutions to host this event simultaneously. To allow for more students to show their creativity and artistic skills, the organizers are hoping to partner with more host universities for the forthcoming staging of the event during the first quarter of 2015.
The Poster Making Contest is open to Grades IV to VII students from both private and public schools all over the country. With a maximum of two contestants per school, each participant is given two and a half hours to prepare their poster based on their own interpretation of the event’s theme using art materials provided by the organizers. Three posters are chosen from the submitted entries coming from each of the host universities which will then qualify for the three national awards. The national winners are selected by a pool of respected artists and representatives from the PFCS. The awarding ceremony is held during the Philippine Chemistry Congress. This event is made possible thru the generous support of various sponsors throughout the years specifically CHEMREZ Technologies, Boysen, Shell, C&E Publishing, and Dow.