Students come up with ideas to tackle haze, riots

COCKROACHES are associated with many things, but "antibacterial properties" probably isn't one of them. This did not stop a team of secondary students from Gan Eng Seng School from dissecting the insects in order to find possible antibacterial uses for their body parts.

Theirs was just one of the 50 projects entered in the Scientific Thinking Programme 2015, an annual competition organised by Republic Polytechnic (RP) which aims to cultivate a passion for science and technology among secondary school students.

Over the course of the five-month programme which began in February, some 230 students from 20 secondary schools attended workshops, did research and analysed results with the guidance of academic staff from RP's School of Applied Science.

Yesterday, the top five projects were recognised during an award ceremony held at RP. The winners were from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Chestnut Drive Secondary School, Naval Base Secondary School, Singapore Chinese Girls' School and Woodgrove Secondary School.

Rishabh Tiwari, 15, from Chestnut Drive Secondary, whose group created a "vortex cannon" firing compressed blasts of air, said he was inspired by the riot in Little Indiain 2013. It could be used as a non-lethal riot control method, he said.

Celestine Teo Cui Wen, 14, from Naval Base Secondary School, whose team conducted experiments to determine the effectiveness of household materials in filtering polluted air, said: "During the 2013 haze, there were low-income households which could not afford air-conditioning to filter the haze. We hoped to find cheap household materials that could be used to filter the harmful particles."

The team found that polyester, available in craft stores, was effective in keeping out haze particles while still allowing oxygen to pass through, making it ideal for covering windows in the event of haze.

timgoh@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Students come up with ideas to tackle haze, riots'. Print Edition | Subscribe