Special Programme in Science (SPS)

SPSians Awarded Special Mention at the Amazing Science-X Challenge 2014

Team Triumvirate, consisting of SPSians Joseph, Xiao Rui and Zhen Yuan (Class of 2017), were awarded Special Mention at the Amazing Science-X Challenge 2014.

We are proud to announce that a team of SPS students was awarded Special Mention in the recently concluded Amazing Science-X Challenge 2014 co-organised by the Defence Science Organisation (DSO), Science Centre Singapore and the National University of Singapore (NUS). The competition requires participants to create a stand-alone exhibit that will be able to, within a span of just three minutes, illustrate certain scientific concepts or principles to the general public. Several months of hard work and preparation culminated in a three-day exhibition held from the 17th to the 19th of September.

A total of three teams of students from SPS took part in this year's Amazing Science-X Challenge - Frosties, consisting of Charlene, Ganesh and Glendon; 5.0, comprising Jin Feng, Kian Fong and Ryan; and Triumvirate, consisting of Joseph, Xiao Rui and Zhen Yuan. All the three groups, from the class of 2017, put in numerous hours of hard work and effort in the few months leading up to the competition, and Triumvirate was eventually awarded Special Mention for their demonstration of fluid vortices using a mist generator.

Triumvirate's award-winning exhibition consisted of a mist-generating machine that sent lines of mist through a box. Obstacles, such as external objects and even hands, could be placed into the box to disrupt the flow of the mist, thereby resulting in the creation of various different interesting patterns. For instance, the presence of blunt obstacles would create the well-known Karman vortex street (a string of vortices). Meanwhile, Frosties showcased a microbial fuel cell that made use of the anaerobic respiration of yeast to generate electricity, while and 5.0 demonstrated scattering phenomena such as Rayleigh scattering and Mie scattering using soap emulsion as well as a cloud generator.

The winning exhibit by Triumvirate, "Fluid Flow Observatory". Mists are used to visualise the interesting patterns of fluid flow that result from the presence of obstacles that alter the streamlines.

A jubilant Team Triumvirate together with their winning exhibit.

The exhibit by Frosties, "Microbial Fuel Cell". The set-up makes use of the anaerobic respiration of yeast to generate electrons which are harvested to generate electricity.

The exhibit by 5.0, "Visualisation of Scattering Phenomena". Rayleigh scattering is demonstrated with the use of soap and water. The soap emulsion scatters the visible light, creating blue and red tinges in the solution.

The second part of the 5.0's set-up demonstrates Mie scattering through the generation of clouds in a bottle. White light is scattered by the water droplets, giving the observable white tinge to the cloud generated.

The time we had in the competition was great! While it was quite tiring and challenging when designing the poster and the set up. However, when the elegant form of the poster and the set up started emerging, it was very satisfying. The SPS has been a great motivator and inspiration for this competition and also a source of great advice. It was thanks to SPS that we realised that we could procure the parts of our set up and borrow occasional tools from the Physics Workshop. Of course, we were excited about winning the Special Mention Award. However, it was really the fact that the set up worked that we were happy about. We hope to see more involvement of the SPS in future ASXC competitions! Joseph, a member of Triumvirate

For ASXC, our team decided to do a biochemistry project on Microbial Fuel Cells. We chose this because we thought a biological exhibit was new and would be a good addition to the Science Centre as it currently does not have this kind of living system that visitors can interact with. Initially, the setup did not yield promising results. However, after guidance from the SPS community and many weeks of hard work, the results became more observable with improved voltage and current readings. We are also thankful that Prof Leslie and Andreas allowed us to use the wet lab, including some of its equipment. We are really thankful to have had the experience of participating in the ASXC and we have learnt a lot, in terms of how to create an exhibit, explain ideas simply and better engage the audience. It was an enriching experience overall and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole process! Charlene, a member of Frosties

I feel that this competition is an enriching experience as it taught me the importance of scientific communication. The beauty of scientific communication is the ability to use simple equipment to communicate difficult scientific concepts to the general public, which is what this competition aims to achieve. I would like to thank SPS, especially Dr Leslie and Dr Chammika for providing us with the equipment that we used in the competition. Jin Feng, a member of 5.0

Ultimately, we would like to applaud all three teams for their hard work and sacrifice for the past few months, from the initial brainstorming process up till the sourcing of materials and construction of the exhibit itself. To quote SPS Assistant Director Mr Andreas, “Winning or not does not matter; more importantly, enjoy the process”. Although none of the teams from SPS succeeded in clinching the top prize this year, they nonetheless had an enriching and exciting experience, and that is the key takeaway in the true spirit of the competition.

All the three teams from SPS which took part in the Amazing Science-X Challenge 2014.