Having a heavenly body named after you is an achievement of a lifetime, don’t you agree? Well, three Filipino students can proudly count this as one of theirs—because three planets were just named after them!
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory named three minor planets after students of Camarines Sur National High School for winning in the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in May last year. ISEF is the largest pre-college science competition in the world with over 1,800 students from more than 75 countries.
In a Facebook post yesterday, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced that Eugene Rivera, Joscel Kent Manzanero, and Keith Russel Cadores placed second in the ISEF held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States with their study “Design and Development of Solar-Tracking Arduino-Rooted PV Panels” for the “Energy: Physical” category.
The DepEd adds that each student “received a certificate identifying their very own minor planet and an orbital plot showing its current location.” The team represented the Philippines after their success in the 2018 National Science and Technology Fair (NSTF).
Since 2001, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory has been naming asteroids discovered in their laboratory after high school students who performed excellently in various science competitions.
In a letter shared by the NSTF Facebook account, Grant Stokes, MIT Principal Investigator of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research program, congratulates Rivera and his team.
“I am pleased that the technical accomplishments of Lincoln Laboratory can contribute to recognizing your achievement. MIT Lincoln Laboratory is proud to have this opportunity to encourage science education. Good luck in your pursuit of education and career. You are off to a great start!” Stokes says.
A Dynamic Study
Using materials such as a broken umbrella, electric fans, and scrap acrylic sheets aside from “electronics, humidity sensors, and servo motors”, the research looked into harnessing energy through a “photovoltaic cell” or solar cell as a renewable energy source.
“The study aimed to improve the power harvesting and generating capacity of photovoltaic cells by designing and building a solar device that mimics a flower opening when the sun is out, tracks the sun’s movement, closes when the light source is no longer detected, and responds to humidity and temperature to maximize power generation,” the abstract on Intel ISEF’s website says.
It further adds that tests on the robotic design improved the capacity of the solar cell to harness power. No wonder these three young Filipinos just earned their place among the stars!