High school student won third prize in Senior Secondary Division, Health and Biology Category
The Harbour School (THS) Grade 11 student Nikki Wong’s research study on a local Hong Kong coral has won the third prize in a prestigious STEM competition for secondary school students in Hong Kong.
Ms Wong’s research project on a particularly hardy species of local Hong Kong coral species Goniastrea aspera showed resistance and tolerance to wide temperature range.
As the world’s oceans heat up due to climate change, coral reefs will come under increasing stress. A fifth of all corals have already died in the past three years. In highly developed Hong Kong where overfishing, sewage, sedimentation and other stresses occurs on its coastlines, it is surprising to find small but thriving coral communities locally. The Grade 11 student hopes that by learning how Hong Kong’s corals have developed such unusual resilience and sharing her research may potentially help other coral communities in the world.
Her research findings showed that the coral species studied was able to tolerate temperatures of between 23 to 28 degrees which is unusual. However, if Hong Kong ocean waters increase by one to two degrees for a sustained period of about 30 days - as is expected with forecasts due to climate change - it will lead to bleaching of even these hardy species of coral.
Ms Wong’s study was conducted with the guidance of THS’s Marine Science Center, the only marine research facility of its kind in a primary and secondary school in Hong Kong.
Maxine Cutracci, THS Marine Science Specialist and Middle School Teacher said, “We are pleased and proud of Nikki’s research and the Marine Science Center’s role in helping her with this achievement. As a teacher and a marine biologist, it was deeply rewarding to follow Nikki during her research process as she became more and more passionate about her research topic. Our goal at the MSC is to use this facility and its research work to reach out to Hong Kong’s youth and educate them about the marine environment and applied marine science.”
The annual Hong Kong Youth Science and Technology Innovation Competition is the largest and most popular science competition in Hong Kong with 4000 applicants from more than 400 schools participating. Organised by the Hong Kong Youth Science and Technology Innovation http://stic.newgen.org.hk, the competition is open to kindergarten, primary and secondary school students and teachers.