Hwa Chong Institution (High School)

Projects Competition 2015
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We declare that the web-report is our own work and does not contain plagiarised material.
Upper Secondary
Engineering Science
Project Title
Indoor Plants
The rationale behind this project was to test for the feasibility of implementing a portable-sized green wall in classrooms in terms of maintenance, cost, resources needed et cetera. Also, HCI classrooms were found to be dull and lacked a touch of nature. However, many existing commercial green walls are very costly and impractical to place one in each classroom. Hence, we want to find a way to cultivate plants in classrooms while saving space, which was to build a vertical green wall on a smaller-scale to fit the classroom size as well as provide adequate greenery to the class. Our solution would be affordable, accessible and sustainable in the long run. Our prototype consisted of 16 pots of plants placed strategically on a grid, forming a terraced-type green wall. Initial results do conclude that these plants could survive indoors in that structure, while keeping the size of the structure to a minimum. The solution design relies mainly on a self-circulatory watering system, which would be able to solve the possible challenge of under-watering. Our solution design went through many stages of revamp and reconstructing to allow the water to flow through the whole system effectively while watering the individual pots adequately. The first few batches of plants produced positive results that proved our prototype could function well. However, due to the apparent slow growth of the plants and unforeseen time constrains, we had difficulties implementing the system in an actual classroom environment. Our project provides for a cheaper, cost-saving and smaller-scale alternative to green walls indoors, especially in classrooms where there is a lack of greenery and a limited space.
Link to Video page
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Mr Zac Toh (Chop Ching Hin Pte Ltd)
Mr Lim Seow Yi (Hwa Chong Institution)
Mr Paul Goh (Hwa Chong Institution)
Team Leader/Members

(Name & Class)
Team Leader :

I embarked on this project on the notion of increasing the practicality of having green walls in public spaces such as schools. As my first year trying on a STEM project, all the prototype and experimentation seemed new to me. Throughout the course of the project, we had many problems with the watering system of the green wall we built. We had to constantly do trial and error on the watering system to make sure that it worked. It was a cycle of success and failures of the watering system. Well, that, in my opinion, is the spirit of STEM projects where one has to try and try again until the final product works. Essentially, the value of innovation and perserverance in practice. It all starts with a simple idea from our innovation and progresses to become greater things. Perserve on, never stop trying and one day, it will finally work. Thomas Edison failed. Albert Einstein failed. But all that doesn't matter, what matters is that they persevered in their innovations and achieved success at last. My STEM project has taught me that it doesn't matter if you stumble and fall (repeatedly!) because all that matters is that you can pick yourself up and finish the marathon. I quote: "I have tried 99 times and have failed, but on the 100th time came success", Albert Einstein said.

Group Members :

At first, our group encountered some problems in being able to meet the criteria set by the category we were in. Our initial idea was to merely put plants at the side of the classroom, then measure their impact on the students. Our project, however, was deemed to be not scientific enough. The factors were too varied to be able to draw a link between students’ feelings/emotions/thoughts and the plants. In the end, we decided to do green walls instead and see if it was feasible to create a small scaled green wall, using plant survival rate and height as a way to determine its effectiveness. Over the course of the project, we encountered many challenges. The first of these challenges was finding a way to make an effective watering system. We were unable to ensure that the water flowed well while making sure that the water dripped out of our holes. A consistent flow of water was unable to be achieved. We overcame this by replacing parts and doing several rounds of testing in order to make sure that it worked. Some of our plants also died due to natural, uncontrollable factors. We did not let this hold us back. Instead, we replanted the plants and carried on with the project. In order to maintain teamwork and collaboration, we made sure not to get into arguments about small things. We focused on the project and focused on getting things done. We made sure to put the end in mind and worked towards that goal. Unfortunately, we only managed to start on the bulk of the project during the June holidays. We did not have enough time to fully grow the plants, or at least not as tall we needed them to be. Had we had more time, we would have been able to ensure that our plants were in the best possible condition before starting the testing. In conclusion, we learned that it is important to manage time wisely. It is also important to maintain harmony within a team and avoid conflicts as much as possible. Lastly, I also learned that I should not give up when I face setbacks, but just keep pushing forward.

I would like to start by thanking Mr Goh, Mr Lim, Josiah and Ryan for being very accommodating and agreeable throughout the duration of the project. As with the past few years I have been busy with my external commitments in terms of competition, training and coaching, but not as busy as I have been this year. It means a lot to me that they have been so kind as to accommodate to my schedule and have been very encouraging and involved with the project, giving me the time and space to not just pursue track but also be able to balance schoolwork, track, and the project at the same time. While officially the group only has 3 members, it has felt as though the group has 5 members, thanks to the involvement and commitment of both Mr Lim and Mr Goh to this project. In terms of growing and learning I feel that this project has certainly taught me that you have to be daring enough to try your ideas, to not be afraid of failing. At the start of the project, I was a little bit lost and a little bit hesitant to do it as I was not sure of what exactly was required of me now that I was in a 3 man team and that the idea behind the project was not my own. However, I took on the responsibility and decided that if I was going to do this project I was going to do it to the best of my abilities. So I let myself dare to try all the new ideas that I had for the project, and all the possible directions that we could take with the project. Perhaps this led us to be slightly delayed and off track as we then had to try so many different types before coming to one desired prototype model. Yet the opportunities that we took and the chances that we took have shown me that it is much more educational to follow your ideas rather than stick to an obvious path of success. Even if you fail, it does not matter, as you have learnt something in the process. For example, despite not making the prelims initially, nor making the finals, I feel that this project has been one of the most interesting and most fulfilling projects thus far because of what I have learnt through it. Not only have I learnt that a project could bring not just the students but also the teachers together, but also I have learnt that success should be defined yourself. I realized that despite not making the finals, which would be a failure to many, the relationships I developed and the sheer educational process of the project is in itself a success – a success in educating me and broadening my perspectives. In terms of strategies in overcoming problems, I feel that the main problems of our project were our lack of time due to clashes in schedules. As mentioned at the start of this reflection, the strategy employed was our willingness to put aside our own time to invest in the project, and our accommodating spirit. For example, despite our leader being away due to his commitments, his absence was barely felt due to the immediate response of both our mentors stepping in to help us. This spirit of wanting to help each other out to complete the project and being willing to sacrifice precious time for each other is one that I have rarely seen and am immensely grateful for. Perhaps rather than strategy, I would say that overcoming this problem of having clashes in schedules can be solved if all the members are committed and involved in the project. When all members feel that the project is truly theirs and truly want to succeed, then I believe that problems such as clashes in timetabling will not actually be a problem.