194 students recognised at MOE Special Awards ceremony

Team members for the Smart Diabetic Breathalyser project Mr Yong Huey (second from left), Mr Kee Yen Cheng (third from left), and Mr Aniket Tejpal (fourth from left), are recipients of the Lee Hsien Loong Interactive Digital Media Smart Nation Award. PHOTO: TEMASEK POLYTECHNIC

SINGAPORE - The pain on his grandmother's face as she pricked her finger every day to monitor her diabetes motivated Mr Aniket Tejpal to come up with an alternative way for diabetics to measure their blood sugar levels.

Through research, the 19-year-old, together with Mr Kee Yen Cheng, 19, and Mr Yong Huey, 20, learnt that people's blood sugar levels match up with another chemical - acetone, which humans expel when they breathe.

The Year 3 computer engineering students from Temasek Polytechnic developed a breathalyser which allows diabetics or those at risk of diabetes to measure their blood sugar levels by measuring the amount of acetone in their breath, cutting out the pain and discomfort of ritually pricking their fingers to draw blood.

The breathalyser collects data onto a mobile app and also sends it to a cloud database where doctors can access it remotely.

The trio were among 194 students to receive prizes at the Ministry of Education's (MOE) Special Awards ceremony, held virtually on Tuesday afternoon (Aug 24).

Director-General of Education Wong Siew Hoong said at the opening of the ceremony that the special awards have a long history of recognising achievements in a variety of areas.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the recipients exemplify the qualities the Singapore education system seeks to nurture.

He added: "Holistic education is a cornerstone of our education system. Our recipients are well-rounded students who not only do well academically, but also put in time and effort to develop essential life skills, broaden their experiences, and pursue their passions through different undertakings."

Mr Aniket and his group mates were among 18 recipients of the Lee Hsien Loong Interactive Digital Media Smart Nation Award, for which they received a certificate and a cash prize of $1,000.

It is one of 11 prizes collectively known as the special awards. They include the Prime Minister's Book Prize - an award for bilingualism which was first given out in 1974.

All the special awards are funded by donations from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Among this year's 28 recipients of the Lee Kuan Yew Exemplary Student Award was 10-year-old Canossian School pupil Rex Chan, who was born with severe hearing loss.

Rex Chan was born with severe hearing loss but he has still learnt several instruments and become a prefect at Canossian School. PHOTO: CANOSSIAN SCHOOL

The award recognises students in government-funded special education schools who are role models to their peers.

Despite being hard of hearing, Rex has been able to learn to play a variety of instruments with the school's percussion band including the drums, the xylophone, the glockenspiel and his favourite - the marimba.

Rex, who is also a prefect at his school, told The Straits Times that he does not allow his disability to stop him from getting the most that he can out of lessons or from being a good role model for his friends.

He said: "My advice to others who have learning disabilities is to go to teachers for help and to keep talking to them year after year."

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