The Mighty Minds Challenge that was organized by RHB Bank and The Star newspaper was held at Alor Star Mall on the 18th of April 2009, which was last Saturday. I was one of the participants representing our school in joining the competition.
That morning, I woke up to discover that I was a twisted knot of mangled nerves. I could hardly eat anything , because my stomach was already full. With butterflies, that is. I reached the mall at 9 am to discover a warm and frantic hive of students from various schools gathering at the entrance as the building had yet to open its doors. Everyone was either nose-deep in books, or discussing facts with their friends. The sight made my heart palpitate wildly like the fluttering wings of a caged-in bird, because I had hardly touch anything to prepare myself for this challenge. I was reprimanding myself the whole time I waited for the doors to open. I even saw some familiar faces like Daniel, Aaron, Shi Yin & Shi En, and even Li Ni. Otherwise, there were no fellow Form 2 students there. *sob*
When the mall was finally open and several people wearing the ‘Mighty Minds’ T-shirt ushered us in, I tried to soothe my knotted stomach and rub the goosebumps on my arms. Inhale, exhale. Good. Then, one of the MM guys called out to the vast crowd of students, “Each team select one team leader and complete the registration at the counter, please.” So, Puan Vanitha was like, “Ha! You! Michelle! You’re team leader!” And she pushed me towards the counter, leaving my jaws falling open like a toad trying to suck in air. I was dumbfounded and didn’t know what to do. Heck, I didn’t even know which team I belong to and who my teammates were. Luckily, Puan Vanitha helped me to carry out the registration procedure, and realised that our school had sent two F123 (Form 1, 2 and 3) and F4F5 (Form 4 and 5) teams each and I was in the lower secondary category: Sultanah Asma (A). My teammates were Chan Lye May (Form 1) and Anis Shafiqa (Form 3), and I must say, we make a pretty comprehensible group. Then, each group was given a phone-like device that resembled a keypad of putting in our answers for the first quiz. I was like, fuyoh. Technology is meddling with my mind.
The first segment was the F123 quiz, so we took our seats on the floor in the ‘hall’. There was a huge projected screen in front of us and we wondered idly what the whole thing was about while waiting for the other participants to arrive. I was even called by one of the officers to be interviewed. I tried to put on a calm and confident facade even though I was shaking from head to toe. But I thought I did pretty well. I hope.
The first quiz started at approximately 10 am, thanks to a school from Bukit Telujong or something, who were the last ones to arrive. Then, the quiz began. It was an MCQ quiz, and, I must admit, some of them were pretty easy. The science questions, I mean. And some of the math too. But there was one sphere area calculation that both May and I were yet to learn, so we depended on Anis, but we still got the wrong answer. And there was one stupid mistake that we did that cost us a whole TEN marks. My silly mistake, as I was the one holding the keypad. Stupid me, or we could’ve got another 10 points. But there was this question about Nicol David and we completely ‘hentam’ the answer but got it correct anyway, so, congrats to ourselves!
The quiz took no more than an hour, then it was the F4F5 quiz next. I breathed a sigh of relief, but there was still a knot in my chest, a worry of not making it to the Top 30. Dad, Mum and I had a pretty good time guessing the F4F5 quiz answers, and Dad got most of it correct.😄 Anyway, after the upper secondary quiz, they announced the Top 30 for both categories, and…..(drum roll) ALL THE ASMA GROUPS WERE QUALIFIED! Yay! Then, we were given a briefing on the hands-on challenge, which was scheduled to take place in the afternoon. All the groups were supposed to construct a model based on the objective and materials given, but we still didn’t know what we had to do yet. Then, it was lunch break. I could barely eat anything, as my stomach was churning like the inside of a cement-mixer, and who knows what’s going to happen if I drop a morsel into it? Ka-boom, that’s what’s gonna happen.
The hands-on challenge started at 2pm, and we took our places at our own worktables respectively. This time, my nervousness reigned supreme of my entire body system. It was worse than that morning. I felt fluttery, like I was a tightrope. Like I was exposed to air. Out of my element. Feet not on the ground. The fluttery feeling soon turned into a feeling of morbid nervousness. One of the officers gave us a few reminders, and the challenge began.
As soon as I opened the instruction manual, my mouth hang open.
You are instructed to construct a paper ball ejector that is able to shoot out five paper balls continuously.
And you know what the materials are?
- Two rolls of manila cards.
- Three coloured papers.
- A roll of aluminium foil.
- Four chopsticks.
- One satay stick.
- A pinch of cotton.
- A penknife.
- A pair of scissors.
- A roll of masking tape.
- A roll of cellophane tape.
- A small piece of plasticine.
- A small tack.
- A sheet of newspaper.
- A fat straw.
- Two metal wires.
That’s pretty much everything I can remember. So tell me, my fellow Einsteins and Einsteinettes, how the hell am I supposed to build anything from this materials, much less a paper ball ejector that is supposed to spurt out FIVE balls at a time?
Lye May was, I must admit, the conductor of this segment, despite me being the leader. We were totally clueless. Ternganga. We saw everyone starting on their project, but us? Nada. Zilch. Null. Void. Finally, we settled in for the tame, common catapult.
And even that was a disaster.
I don’t really want to describe about our procedure. I don’t even want to think about it. It was ghastly. Unspeakable. Outrageous. Inhumane. Unearthly. Calamitous. Well, you get the drift. And I was pretty positive that ours would receive barely a glance from the judges, even though I still kept a precious tinge of hope at the back of my mind.
Ha. How very right I was. Down to the very last detail.
Soon, it was assessment time, and the judges took a gander at our model for a nano-fleet second, then turned away. We were dumbfounded. Was it really that bad? I realised I could answer that for myself. Yes. It was that bad. Almost everyone’s model took the shape of a cylinder, except ours. Ours was a cuboid. Don’t laugh. We were that bad, yeah.
As soon as we were allowed to claim back our products, I grabbed our ‘rubbish’ and headed straight for the rubbish bin. Of course I did ask May and Anis’ permission lah, and they agreed -even supported, so in went the yellow garbage into the garbage can, right where it belonged in the first place. There. Mission accomplished.
Ahh… The challenge is finally over. For me that is. It was the F4F5 hands-on challenge, and their hands-on was like, damn hard! Something about ‘weight compressor that weighs 0-400 g with the accuracy of 50g’. What the heck is that supposed to mean?? But my brain restricted anyomre mind-twisting thoughts so I banished it from my mind.
I went home at about 6 pm, because I had tuition. The F4F5 challenge was still on, but I reckoned I’ll check it on YouTube. If they DO record it at all.
All in all, it was a pretty exciting day, minus the hands-on part, and I gained LOTS of experiences and knowledge from this challenge. I hope I’d be able to take part in it again next year, if time allows me to.