Students build 'Star Wars' prototypes in Stem contest

Chang Li-Ann from Raffles Girls' School testing her team's prototype, the V-Wing Fighter, with her teammates looking on. They were among the 240 students involved in a competition under the Fuel Your School - Stem @ Central Singapore initiative held
Chang Li-Ann from Raffles Girls' School testing her team's prototype, the V-Wing Fighter, with her teammates looking on. They were among the 240 students involved in a competition under the Fuel Your School - Stem @ Central Singapore initiative held at Raffles Girls' School yesterday.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Fancy building the hovering landspeeder vehicles like the ones in the Star Wars movies?

Students from 10 secondary schools did just that on a miniature scale in a competition that promoted the science in science fiction.

Their prototypes used principles of magnetism to allow the vehicles to float and move along tracks. Students also got to learn concepts on sensor technology, electronics and mechanical engineering.

Some 240 lower secondary students in the Central Singapore District were involved in the competition, which is under the Fuel Your School - Stem @ Central Singapore initiative in the district.

The programme, which ended yesterday at Raffles Girls' School, seeks to spur lower secondary school students' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).

It was organised by Central Singapore Community Development Council and Chevron Singapore.

The programme's organisers said they decided to make Stem fun for and relatable for students by having a competition on the futuristic landspeeder vehicle from the popular Star Wars science-fiction franchise.

Going by the names of some of the prototype vehicles, the students were indeed pretty inspired.

"We named our prototype the V-Wing Fighter, after the X-Wing fighter in Star Wars," said Chang Li-Ann, 13, a student from Raffles Girls' School. Li-Ann and her team of four schoolmates said that completing their prototype vehicle on time, as well as figuring out the technical and mechanical aspects of the vehicle, proved challenging.

She said it was hard to ensure all the parts of the prototype were stable when her team's vehicle was moving along the magnetic tracks.

Besides Stem, Li-Ann said they learnt about cooperation and teamwork when they worked on the prototype vehicle.

The Stem programme is in its second year, with last year's initiative featuring 320 students building rollercoaster prototypes at Universal Studios Singapore.

Ms Denise Phua, mayor of Central Singapore District, said at the programme's competition presentation yesterday that Stem-related skills are important to ensure Singapore's future generations and workforce stay relevant.

"We want to give our students a well-rounded education. We hope to see more youths pursuing Stem- related fields of study," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'Students build 'Star Wars' prototypes in Stem contest'. Print Edition | Subscribe