Curious about what kinds of solutions secondary three students may fabricate to solve real-world issues revolving environmental sustainability? Come on to the final judging of Shell STEM Youth Innovation Challenge and view the finalists’ prototypes for free on 13 July, 2pm to 5pm at the Grassroots’ Club (Address: 190 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, Singapore 568046). The challenge is sponsored by Shell Companies in Singapore, supported by Ministry of Education (Singapore) and organised by STEM Inc, Science Centre Singapore.
Here’s a glimpse to a finalist’s project competing in the Eco-friendly materials theme. An article contributed by Ashwin S/O Mahesvaran, Fong Sai Kit, Muhd Iskandar, Lim Jing Jia Christine, Muhammad Fathullah B Raja Ali, Rubini D/O Thangarajah, Safwana Bte Sani from Marsiling Secondary School, the Team Timer Plug.
Our team came up with the concept of making a “smart” digital timer extension plug. What has this got to do with eco-friendly materials you might wonder? Eco-friendly would mean no harm to the environment. Currently, Singapore uses mainly natural gas, often known as the cleanest of fossil fuels to produce the electricity it needs and this results in the release of carbon dioxide, CO2 as a by-product. Too many greenhouse gas emissions are collecting in our earth’s atmosphere and are causing our climate to change. Thus, reducing the consumption of electricity will result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
We understood the real need to eliminate the unnecessary power use in our homes and from there the idea of the digital timer plug arose. Our “smart” digital timer extension plug features circuitry that will be able to sense the flow of electrical current and can display the amount of time an appliance has been switched on for and cut off the electricity.
One example to use our “smart” digital timer plug is to set timer when charging mobile phones. This helps increase the life span of chargers, lower electricity bills and most importantly, reduces carbon emission.
Our STEM experience
As a team, we huddled together to chart our next move. We researched online, went for the Skills Workshops organised by STEM Inc, read books and understood the science of phantom load (standby power). We brainstormed our findings, suspended our individual judgements and sat down to design on the logic of our timer plug which involves intensive electronics and programming knowledge. We first tried setting up the Arduino and got a relay module to control a simple LED powered from a 9V DC battery. Upon proof of concept, we proceeded to bring a working appliance (an oven) and connected it to the mains (240V) and saw our project come to life! This is one project which integrated the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and we feel proud to be enriched with STEM experienced through this project.
Shell STEM Challenge has provided us the practical experiences in generating hypotheses and planning experiments which make us more independent. It also allows us to build understanding that is functional and to develop the ability to inquire amongst ourselves. Forming the idea was possible, but materializing it was not an easy feat. However, with the interesting mix of members in the team made the whole experience fun and memorable. In addition, our teachers- Mr Shyam, Ms Parhana and STEM Educator Ms Yogeswari Raju were of great support for our project. Each time we felt dejected and clueless, they stood by us and did their best to ignite the interest in us again and again. This project has been a good learning experience for us, we truly enjoyed despite our tight schedules with exams and we feel proud that our project works!