Friday, 8 November 2013

by Matthew Tang Tien Ping, Form 4 Science 1, Class of 2014

VLE, RAG, WEG, SFA and now NPC. This year, Cempakans have yet another event to add the long list of ‘onlyincempaka’ acronyms - the New Product Convention, part of Cempaka’s extensive curriculum.

Photo credit: Amanda Lee

If you were to walk past the library on the 6th of November, you would have seen students sitting on the floor at the entrance of the library hunched over their laptops, frantically typing on Keynotes and engaging in heated conversations with their friends. Even more bizarrely, there’ll be students plugging their ears and muttering to themselves as though reciting a speech. That’s right, Cempaka Connect’s New Product Convention 2013 saw a new side of innovation and challenge for us students. 

As in every annual NPC, Cempakans from all levels were tasked to design a product which would be able to solve existing problems in the world. This time round, a new twist was added to the already challenging task at hand. We were given several topics to choose from, each of them a prediction of a product that had the potential to be developed within the next 50-100 years. To say that the topics varied widely would be an understatement, as we had the opportunity to choose a product ranging from stomach chips to self-grown homes to space engines. We then had to present on our topic of choice and state a feasible plan in order to provide sufficient funding and be able to successfully connect with the target market.

Photo credit: Amanda Lee

The Form 5 and Junior 2 students had already wrapped up their NPC several weeks earlier, in order to fully devote themselves to their SPM and IGCSE examinations. In spite of their examinations looming at the time of their presentation, they exceeded all expectations as they put their exams on hold by putting on magnificent presentations that had Mr Edwin (the Cempaka Connect coordinator) singing their praises to the rest of the secondary school. On the 6th of November however, the NPC kicked off with the Sophomore 1, 2 and Form 3 students showcasing their research, followed by the Form 4 and Junior 1’s after lunch. 

All presentations had a six minute limit, in which we had to elaborate on our product and try to attract ‘investors’ into backing our product. This was coupled with a Q&A session, a nightmare for those with shoddy research work. Mr Wong was the main perpetrator, firing seemingly endless questions at the nervous students. It was a huge relief when he was finally satisfied (or so we hope), and even more so when he tossed in the occasional and not to mention rare praise as well. By the time ten groups had gone, our brains were fuzzy with information - hopefully not the kind that goes in one ear and out the other, and we didn’t need any stomach chips to tell us it was lunch.

At the culmination of the convention, the judges pooled together their evaluation and awarded the final scores to the groups. Merits were accorded for those with an average of above 60%, and certificates given to the winner and the first and second runner-ups. For the Form 4/Junior 1 category, Chicken Rice nabbed the top honours with Rainbow Jelly and Compagnia Bella as the 2nd and 3rd highest overall respectively. 

1st Place: Chicken Rice
Photo credit: Amanda Lee

I learnt loads from this year’s NPC, as I am sure everyone else did; despite the occasional puzzled look on everyone’s faces, especially at the mentions of ‘arboursculpture’, ‘warp engine’, ‘pleaching‘, ‘stem cells‘ and what not. Although stressful, the amount of pride and satisfaction when you have lived up to Mr Wong’s high expectations is nothing short of gratifying (and relieving too!). 

As the only students in the world to be exposed to such an experience at a young age at this level, though we might not see the significance yet, no doubt Cempaka Connect gives us a higher stepping stone, setting Cempakans apart from the rest. 

Once again, congratulations to all winners in every category. So what’s the next step from here on? How about applying for MIT? Who knows, maybe we’ll see a senior coming back next year to talk about their time there.
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