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Where there's muck, there's energy
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 25 - 05 - 2011

CAIRO - Despite being a genius, she's very shy when it comes to talking about her invention, which has just won her a gold medal.Khadiga Khaled, 16, received a gold medal for her project, ‘Comparing methane production from cattle manure, rice stubble or a combination of both', at the international project Olympiad I-SWEEEP, held in Houston, Texas on May 4-9.
I-SWEEEP or the International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering and Environment) Project Olympiad, is a ground-breaking science fair open to senior school pupils.
The contest aims to create an educational platform for young researchers to present their innovative projects, taking on today's challenges in energy, engineering and the environment.
"We have in Egypt 3 million of tonnes of rice stubble, which is useless. Every autumn it gets burnt, creating a big, filthy, black cloud.
Meanwhile, our cows produce 40 billion gallons of dung yearly. So I thought of using both to create energy useful for the environment," Khadiga, who wears the hijab (headscarf), told The Egyptian Gazette.
She put the rice stubble and dung into a digester (a huge vessel where chemical or biological reactions take place), free of oxygen, and left it there for three weeks. She found that it produced methane, thereby preventing global warming.
The innovative project of Khadiga, who is in the tenth grade at the Turkish Salahaldin International School (SIS), the first Turkish school in Egypt, which opened in 2009, was one of 800 submitted by young people from 70 countries and 43 US states in the environment field. She won the golden medal and was also given a certificate from North American College.
"You can't imagine how happy I was to receive this award as an Egyptian. Everyone there was equally delighted that an Egyptian schoolgirl wearing the hijab should win,” she said.
"The people there are happy with our revolution. Some of them consider Egypt to be a role model. They would like to launch revolutions in their own countries, but lack the courage of the Egyptians," she added.
Khadiga has met with an official from the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture who promises to use her project. "It's my duty to benefit my country. I'm proud to do so,” she added.
At a celebration held last week in Cairo, Khadiga was also honoured in her school, located in New Cairo's Fifth Agglomeration.
Khadiga was not alone, as tenth grade pupils Celal Emek and Omar Abdulkadir also did very well at the Fifth International Young Inventors Project Olympiad (IYIPO), which was held in Georgia.
IYIPO is an International Project Olympiad organised by Chagler Educational Institutions, in co-operation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, to encourage the younger generation to apply their vision, passion and creativity to scientific innovations that can make a difference in today's world.
Celal received a gold medal for his project 'Solution sets of polynomial diophantine equations in integers', while Omar got a silver medal for his project 'Extracting oil from water, using naturally made substances'. Theirs were among projects submitted from 36 different countries.
"Our focus at SIS is our pupils. We endeavour to provide a balanced education that encompasses ‘academic excellence' and ‘moral and ethical values', allowing our pupils to acquire the tools and ethos necessary to soar through this challenging life on both wings," said Shawkat Shimshek, the director of SIS.
"Our balanced education is achieved by our staff, who are dedicated to our pupils' academic excellence and are also role models for them," he told the audience at the celebration, attended by parents, the Turkish community in Cairo and schoolteachers, who were honoured at the same event too.

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