Viet Nam News
HCM CITY – Most students would love to have a teacher like Phan Văn Nhân.
When two of his 11th grade students expressed interest in a science project, Nhân offered guidance and encouragement, helping them create an environmentally-friendly mosquito repellant that won second prize at a recent science and technical contest for high school students in Cần Thơ City.
At Nhân’s suggestion, Lý Huỳnh Vĩnh Hưng and Huỳnh Quang Uyển Nhi, who attend Hà Huy Giáp High School in Cờ Đỏ Town in Cần Thơ, conducted research on the characteristics of mosquitoes and the active elements of plants or fruits that could be used as a repellant.
After learning that ngũ gia bì (Schefflera heptaphylla), lemon, grapefruit, and citronella could repel mosquitoes, they visited sites where they cut leaves from Schefflera heptaphylla and collected lemon and grapefruit peels at local markets.
To make the repellant, they ground the peels, the citronella and Schefflera heptaphylla and put them in a 90-per cent alcohol solution for 24 to 36 hours, and then removed the residue.
Spending time after school every day, the students, after many trials, were able to create an environmentally-friendly liquid with a natural fragrance that repels mosquitoes.
Since the students live in a rural area, they weren’t able to access Cần Thơ University’s laboratory as many students in the city can. Nevertheless, they were determined to succeed.
“We were discouraged sometimes when we failed, but we tried again and again,” said Huỳnh Quang Uyển Nhi, adding that the liquid spray keeps mosquitoes away from her home for six hours.
Noting that many chemicals in products can cause side effects, Nhân said he encourages students to use plants and fruits in products.
Nhân said that Nhi and Hưng were good students whose patience and interest in various subjects help them succeed, especially with the support of a teacher.
While Hưng’s research interest is in cancer, Nhi plans to study how to best recycle empty plastic bottles and bags littering the landscape.
They both said they wished their high school had a lab with more sophisticated equipment which would allow them to pursue certain kinds of research.
The lab at Cần Thơ University is too far away, about a two-hour drive by motorbike from their hometown.
After graduation, the two students intend to apply to medical university.
“We want to help people and do useful things,” Nhi said.
Đào Xuân Thuyên, deputy principal at Hà Huy Giáp High School, said that scientific studies at high schools had been strengthened under the Ministry of Education and Training’s requirements for comprehensive education.
These kind of studies help develop students’ aptitude and enhance their expertise and skills for future jobs, he added. VNS