At Ban Kud Chok Noi School in Sakon Nakhon province, students keep their school clean by sweeping and by collecting garbage every day. "It struck me that our school should apply new technology to lighten our cleaning chores," said Metta Traiwongyoi, a Prathom 6 (Grade 6) student at the school.
The student team at Ban Kud Chok Noi School in Sakon Nakhon and their consultant teacher Aneke Thonhamkaew, left, demonstrate their ‘global-warming-reducing garbage collecting machine’. PURICH TRIVITAYAKHUN
Spurred by this idea, Metta, along with her friends Kanitha Chaipikhun and Walailuk Khumhom, invented a floor-cleaning machine that they call a "global-warming-reducing garbage collecting machine". The machine won the team a gold medal at the 15th "True Young Scientist Awards" (TYSA), which concluded recently.
This year, over 1,000 students from over 230 schools in 65 provinces across Thailand submitted nearly 400 science projects to compete in the TYSA, a joint project by True Corp (True) and the Thai Association of Science & Technology Education (Taste).
The project targets Prathom 4 to 6 (Grades 4 to 6) students and encourages the youngsters to showcase and apply scientific procedures to create their own projects. The contest also expects to hone the students' analytical skills and foster scientific thinking.
Teams of three students each are required to design and implement their projects in one of the following categories: surveys, experiments and inventions. Proposers of 15 finalist projects, consisting of three surveys, four experiments and eight inventions, gave oral presentations to determine the winners.
Cleaning for fun
Metta's team, participating in the inventions category, came up with a cylindrical mower-like cleaning machine. It is equipped with a plastic cylinder blade, which is made from a plastic bottle cut into pieces, and aluminium. As the user pushes the machine forward, the plastic blade sweeps debris into a container that is placed behind the cylinder blade.
So far, the students have produced three machines based on this design, all of which have been put to actual use.
The reason that the team claims that their machine can reduce global warming, Metta revealed, is that it is assembled from inexpensive recycled materials that can be picked up at a junk shop, such as a used motorcycle chain, a discarded mop handle, used plastics bottles, etc.
"The machine costs only 550 baht to make," the young inventor said.
The team expects to develop the machine further by making it lighter and smaller so that it can be used on a variety of surfaces. At the moment, the machine works well on naked ground and on concrete and wooden floors.
'Great idea' boards
The silver-medal team, from Uttarakit School in Krabi province, who also competed in the inventions category, generated multi-purpose notice boards made from minced palm-leaf stalks in place of the ubiquitous plastic.
The team members are Prathom 6 students Jakrapong Suttisakorn, Kanyapat Saebae and Sangtawan Ngunnuj.
"Every time my school holds an exhibition, the teachers have to spend a lot of money on plastic placards. So, my group thought that we should produce boards made of palm-leaf stalks to reduce expenses," said Sangtawan.
To come up with the end result, the team members mixed shredded stalks with latex. Then they put the materials in moulds and waited for them to dry.
Jakrapong explained that the only item that costs money is the latex as the team approaches villagers who own palm plantations. The villagers are keen to donate the palm-leaf stalks.
A project aimed at raising rice production by utilising the mosquito fern (azolla caroliniana) - the brainchild of students from Chatukham Wittaya-khom School in Nakhon Si Thammarat - and a versatile short- and long-range detector entered by a Rachawinit School team in Bangkok also garnered silver medals.
Each member of the two teams received a silver medal, while a 5,000-baht scholarship was awarded to each team. The remaining 11 projects won a bronze medal for each team member and a 5,000-baht scholarship for each team.
Besides a gold medal for each member, the winning team received a True Plook Panya media set and a 5,000-baht scholarship. As a result the school will benefit from the True Plook Panya project.
Assoc Prof Ladda Phukiat, president of Taste, said that more and more schools have begun to encourage their students to come up with projects on their own. At the same time, a growing number of community members are supporting such projects. This trend can only lead to the betterment of society.
"Partly as a result of the momentum generated by this series of competitions, we anticipate greater involvement by outside parties, such as SMEs and other industry sectors, in advancing socially beneficial projects," the president said.
About the author
- Writer: Purich Trivitayakhun