High school students create eco-friendly mosquito repellent

VietNamNet Bridge – Most students would love to have a teacher like Phan Van Nhan.

When two of his 11th grade students expressed interest in a science project, Nhan 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 Can Tho City.



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Huynh Quang Uyen Nhi, an 11th grader at Ha Huy Giap High School in Can Tho’s Co Do District, sprays an environmentally-friendly liquid mosquito repellent that she and another student developed. Photo: Gia Loc/VNS


At Nhan’s suggestion, Ly Huynh Vinh Hung and Huynh Quang Uyen Nhi, who attend Ha Huy Giap High School in Co Do Town in Can Tho, 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 ngu gia bi (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 Can Tho 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 Huynh Quang Uyen 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, Nhan said he encourages students to use plants and fruits in products.

Nhan said that Nhi and Hung were good students whose patience and interest in various subjects help them succeed, especially with the support of a teacher.

While Hung’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 Can Tho 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.

Dao Xuan Thuyen, deputy principal at Ha Huy Giap 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.

Gia Loc

VNS

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