SINGAPORE: Call it the great science experiment of Singapore. A total of 43,140 students from levels Primary 3 to Junior College Year 2 helped collect data for one of the country’s largest science experiments.
Ng Man Xuan, 13, from Hong Kah Secondary School was one of those taking part in the National Research Foundation's (NRF) National Science Experiment.
Students like her collected data using a SENSg device which measures and stores data such as temperature, sound and motion. It then sends the information to a secure server, where the aggregated data can be accessed by researchers.
Each participant carried the SENSg device for four days, from Sep 28 to Nov 5. This allowed researchers to measure their transport patterns, for instance.
Man Xuan, who hopes to become a biology researcher one day, said taking part in the experiment made her more interested in Science. “I didn't know such a small device can do so many things, and it's very interesting that science and technology can detect so much things and (allow us to) learn more about our surroundings."
Researchers found that the students took an average of 5,853 steps a day and spent an average of 1.1 hours outdoors each day. Researchers said the relatively low activity could have been a result of the yearly haze, which took place around that period of time this year.
The results also found that 62.6 per cent of students were found to travel between school and home by bus, train or both, while about 24 per cent of the students walked. Similar patterns were observed for trips from school to home.
The NRF said the data can be tapped by Government agencies, such as the Land Transport Authority and the Housing and Development Board.
It can also be used in projects such as Virtual Singapore - a 3D map of the country useful in future urban planning. Educators, too, can incorporate the data into their teaching, whether it's identifying dengue hotspots based on temperature and humidity, or the best spots for LED lights and solar panels based on light intensity levels.
"The National Science Experiment has got three purposes,” said Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO of NRF. “One is to excite young people about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), to get them involved in doing real-life experiments. Two, we want to actually ask them to use this data to understand the Singapore that they live in. Three, is to see how they can actually use this data for meaningful things with other participants of this experiment."
Over the three years from this year to 2017, NRF aims to involved more than 250,000 students in the S$4.5 million National Science Experiment. Subsequent years will see different objectives and experiments, to sharpen interest and provide meaningful challenges for the participants, NRF said.