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DOST honors Grade 12 student who won in int'l science contest.

By Martin Sadongdong

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has honored one of its scholars, a Grade 12 student from Philippine Science High School-Eastern Visayas, who made waves in the international science community after winning the top prize at the recent third Breakthrough Junior Challenge held at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California.

Hillary Diane Andales, 18, from Palo, Leyte, paid a courtesy call on DOST Fortunato dela PeAaAaAeA~a after she bagged the grand prize at the Breakthrou Junior Challenge, an annual global science video competition, held on December 3 (Dec. 4 Philippine time).

In the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, considered as the "Oscars" in the world of science, organizer Breakthrough Prize Organization invites students aged 13 to 18 years around the world to create and submit a three-minute original video that brings to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics, or mathematics.

Andales emerged victorious among more than 11,000 students from 178 countries all over the world with her video explanation on the concept of relativity and the equivalence of reference frame, according to DOST.

She brought home a $250,000 (P12,670,000) college scholarship, a $50,000 (P2,530,000) prize for her science teacher, and a $100,000 (P5,069,000) new science laboratory from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Just recently, the DOST added that Andales was awarded the "Mga Bagong Rizal: Pag-Asa ng Bayan" feat for her strong advocacy for science, technology, engineering, and math education and awareness.

Mga Bagong Rizal: Pag-Asa ng Bayan is a biennial search for young Filipinos who demonstrate extraordinary abilities and gifts in various fields while exemplifying love for country, reflective of the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal's virtues.

Rough journey

However it was not an easy journey for Andales.

Andales said in a social media post that she also joined the same competition last year but fell short.

"I toiled through sleepless nights just to research, make the script, edit, animate and learn everything on my own. All throughout, I was kept alive and motivated by my own vision of me finally receiving the award onstage at NASA Ames. But it never happened. Initially, I was devastated. I felt like I disappointed the thousands of people who voted for me in the Popular Vote Challenge. Yet, there was something in me that was itching to try again," Andales wrote.

The young scientist's defeat did not dampen the passion burning inside her and decided to take one more try. She said it was the choosing of a topic to discuss which was "undoubtedly the hardest part."

"I collected myself and decided to join again. I started passively looking for topics - quantum electrodynamics, perturbation theory, general relativity, quantum chromodynamics - I was all over the place! This was undoubtedly the hardest part because the topic had to be big, complex, unique, and relatable to a layman audience," she recalled.

"Afterward, I wrote the script. I started with a file called 'BJC 2017 Script v1' and ended with 'BJC 2017 Script v17 FINAL FINAL FINAL EDITED PRINT PLS.'" the young scientist quipped.

Andales bared that the award-winning, three-minute video about relativity took one year to make and the rest was history.

'Bigger dreams'

Andales expressed gratitude not only to her family who supported her endeavor, but also the organizers of the global science competition, her mentors, classmates and friends.

She also emphasized the importance of science and how it plays a vital role in everybody's lives.

"Now that I have been given this platform to speak to many more people, I want to encourage other young people to be ambitious and dream big. The world needs more dreamers! Other than that, I want to tell everyone that science is interesting and worthwhile. Science is beyond the equations and the intimidating terms; science is the way we understand the Universe. Everything around you can be explained by science," she said.

The young scientist, however said she did not want to be remembered as the "student who won P20 million in a science competition" and added "bigger dreams" are all that she has in the future.

"I want to make a bigger difference in the world for others. I am beyond elated that my secret little dream finally happened. Now, I can dream bigger. If it ever happens, I hope I can leave a greater impact with it," she ended.

CAPTION(S):

Hillary Diane Andales pays a courtesy call to Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Pena after she bagged the top prize at the 3rd Breakthrough Junior Challenge held last December 3 (December 4 Philippine time) at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, USA. Andales is a Grade 12 student at Philippine Science High School-Eastern Visayas Campus. (Photo courtesy of DOST/Henry de Leon)
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Dec 10, 2017
Words:804
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