Hwa Chong Institution (High School)

Projects Competition 2015
jtcnew.jpg Jurong Town Corporation
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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
Use of sedimentary rock for concrete production
Singapore currently relies heavily on foreign imports of granite for concrete production when embarking on construction projects. However, granite quarrying causes several environmental problems , and foreign sources may sometimes be unreliable. To strengthen Singapore's resource resilience, our group aims to use sedimentary rock excavated from the Jurong Rock Cavern (JRC) to produce concrete. Physical properties of concrete with sedimentary rock have been tested to ensure that physical properties such as compressive and tensile strength meet industry requirements. Methods to mitigate Alkali - Silica Reaction - a chemical reaction that takes place within concrete produced from sedimentary rock that causes deformity and cracking - have also be tested. The results of our investigation have shown that sedimentary rock does have high potential to be used as aggregate for concrete, but further testing has to be conducted in order to make a definitive conclusion.
Link to Web-report page
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Link to Video page
Click HERE to access Video
Mr Zhang Weide (JTC)
Mrs Ng-Ang Siew Hoon (Hwa Chong Institution)
Team Leader/Members

(Name & Class)
Team Leader :

I felt that the greatest learning point that I had throughout this journey in STEM was independence. Only our first meeting with the companies were coordinated by JTC, and this was because they wanted to familiarize us with the project so that we could actually start. Other than that, all the other meetings were organized by us via email, including the first few lab sessions at NSL Chemicals and Sawoh. This meant that we would have to keep them informed through email about our plans. We also had to do a research paper and literature review, and this was complicated by the fact that most of the standards and methodology were based on industrial standards, and thus the terms we encountered were difficult to understand. We had to Google some of the terms, and clarified further by asking our external mentors Dr Hong and Mr Chai about some basic definitions.much of the work was done by ourselves, including the methodology, which we created by basing it on industrial tests. I am also glad that our external mentors did not do all of the work, and instead let us do some parts of the testing. Dr Hong allowed us to mould the mortar bars by ourselves after demonstrating once, and we were also allowed to take measurements using a comparator, a very sensitive piece of equipment, and I am thankful that our external mentors trusted us enough to let us handle such equipment. Independence has been very important throughout this project, and it is one of the greatest takeaways that I have from doing a STEM project. Another takeaway was responsibility. We were working with external companies, and since they had their own projects that had to be completed, we did not want to burden them with an additional project that was not even theirs. Thus, for much of the June holidays we would have to come down so that outer mentors would not have to take the readings on our behalf. The lab sessions usually required more than one person to conduct the experiment, and thus much of our holidays were taken up. The readings were also usually to be taken on consecutive days, and much of the moulding and de moulding had to be done on consecutive days. Much of our holidays were thus spent doing lab work. We also had other commitments, and because all of us are trainers for our St John competitions, we would also have to come back to school to train the competition teams. All of these commitments left us with very little time to do our revision and holiday homework, which we then had to do on weekends. The labs were also at Jurong, and it was quite a hassle for us to go down on a regular basis. This has really taught us a lot about responsibility. Since this was our project, it was also our commitment, and thus we wanted to do it to the best of our abilities so that we would not trouble the companies too much. This STEM project has also taught me about innovation in our industries. The project that we did aimed to solve an existing problem that Singapore is currently facing, and it aimed to do so using a cost effective and readily available method. All of this would be impossible without the innovation of the engineers at JTC who thought of using sedimentary rock as a substitute, and the innovation of laboratory staff and engineers has led to our tiny nation being able to solve some really big issues. Throughout my 4 years in Hwa Chong, the projects that I have done were mostly building upon prior knowledge or work, and aiming to improve it by changing some variables. The end product was a very nice collection of data that rarely, if ever, was built upon. Most projects ended with conclusive results, but those results were had no real life application. However, in STEM, an existing problem is provided, and we then have to work with companies to develop existing methods to counteract the problem. These are real problems, and the results could potentially translate into saving Singapore millions in transport cost for aggregates that are used in concrete, and the real life application of our project is very obvious. This made us feel that our project was more meaningful, and the end goal was very obvious, and thus we were more motivated to complete the project.

Group Members :

This was my first time embarking on a STEM project, and while in some ways it was similar to experimental projects which I had done before, I also enjoyed several new experiences this year. What I appreciated most about STEM was the collaboration with companies, because we could observe how companies today are currently testing solution designs to solve real world problems, and I was able to better appreciate the value behind my project. This project definitely developed me cognitively, because our project was based upon the construction industry and concrete production, topics we were unfamiliar with. As such, we read up on literature reviews and papers to learn the theories and concepts related to our topic, and understand the background knowledge. We were also tasked by one of the companies to design an experiment for ASR testing, and this required us to understand information related to ASR and the methods for mitigating it, and critical thinking was also important to design and execute an experiment based on our background knowledge. I also developed in the affective domain, as I learnt to be more considerate towards my group. There were a few instances where we all had to do project research, and my groupmates asked me to complete his task due to urgent commitments (such as tests). At first I was displeased that he was not doing his job, but found out that he indeed have urgent matters to attend to. Also, in the subsequent weeks to come I encountered the same situation as my groupmates and needed them to help me complete some of my project tasks. Hence, I learnt to be more thoughtful and considerate to my groupmates because we are a team, and should help one another in times of need. The most significant event throughout my project journey was the visit to Jurong Island to view the sedimentary rock stockpile. This is because students rarely get access to Jurong Island, and it is an eye-opener to view the sedimentary rock firsthand and observe its size, hence understanding the rationale behind using this abundant supply for concrete. Representatives from the various companies also followed us on the visit and it was interesting to observe the companies at work, collecting samples for their testing. Hence the visit was very enriching for me. However collaborating with companies on our project was definitely met with various challenges. The most major of which was the time constraints faced by us. Having to spend several weeks at each company to conduct testing, we faced difficulty managing our schedule. This was especially so during the June Holidays because while we had to go to the companies, we only had less than a week of free time due to other commitments . To overcome this we had to split up to go to the various companies and schedule our meetings at odd timings such as public holidays. Sometimes our other commitments had to be sacrificed as well to accommodate our project, because some experimentation required going down to the lab 2 - 3 times a week. Looking back, while this solution was not ideal - as sometimes only 1 of us would be at the company conducting testing, which was unproductive - I felt this was the best way to solve the problem, with so little time and yet so much to do. While we could have reduced our commitments from the start, many of these commitments were important or compulsory, such as CCA camps and Community projects, and we did try our best to cancel the least important commitments to give ourselves more time. Another challenge was the very high amount of workload from the project. Having a collaboration with companies meant that we had to have additional workload set by the companies besides the requirements of Projects Competition such as research paper or web report. For example, NSL Chemicals requested for us to design an experiment to mitigate ASR reaction based on literature reviews. While this was a good learning opportunity, it was a huge task for us because we had little knowledge on the science behind concrete and had to read up a lot. We managed the high workload by splitting it up into parts for each of us to do, with each of us taking responsibility for different tasks. This made us accountable for our own part so there was no chance to freeload off the effort of others, and through this we managed to get all our tasks done. It was also encouraging that when one of us faced difficulty with our part, other groupmates would help them or explain certain concepts to them to help them accomplish the tasks. The method of allocating people to different parts of an assignment can be used in all group projects, because as stated every person is responsible for one part and cannot be dependent on others to do the work for him. To conclude, I grew in different areas throughout this project, not only learning new Scientific concepts, but more importantly, understanding the value of Science and its relevance, and learning values like responsibility and teamwork.

At the end of my Finals presentation, I was swept with a cocktail of emotions – a sense of relief and satisfaction along with a tinge of regret. Upon retrospect, I can sum up my experience over the past year as a tedious, yet immensely enriching and fulfilling one. This project has definitely allowed me to grow tremendously in the cognitive domain. Before embarking on this project, I was clueless about how concrete was produced, but while working on the project, I gained extensive knowledge on not just the process, but also the cost and problems related to concrete production. Also, throughout this project, I had to conduct extensive reading on research papers in order to come up with a solution design to mitigate the ASR expansion. When I first began reading, I found it hard to absorb the information in the papers as I was not used to reading such materials. However, after a while, I became acclimatized to it and found myself picking up information much faster than at the start. In addition, I also developed many vital IT skills over the duration of the project. Over the past month alone, I learnt how to create a video, how to upload it online and how to create a poster. Working with a team-mate (Zhuoyang) who has an aptitude for creating aesthetically pleasing powerpoint slides also gave me the chance to learn many tips on slide designing – something that I have always been very bad at. Asides from this, I also grew a lot in the affective domain. Before going through the 3 rounds of judging, I never believed that I could give a smooth presentation without referring to a script as I did not consider myself as an eloquent person. However, as it was specified that we were not allowed to refer to a script during presentation, I had no choice but to give it a try and the result turned out much better than I expected. As such, the 3 rounds of judging have taught me to have confidence in my abilities and reminded me that one should always seek to step out of his comfort zone and challenge himself in order to grow as a person. Next, throughout our project , we were also presented by various challenges. One of the biggest problems that we encountered was a lack of time to commit to the project. Being a secondary four student is already extremely demanding, yet on top of that, all 3 of us were heavily involved in competition training for our CCA. Hence, we often found ourselves struggling to find time to commit to the project. During the June holidays, in which most of our work should be completed, all 3 of us had less than 10 days in which we did not have any activities on. Also, the period between semi-finals and finals was packed with tests and assessments. As such, the strategy that we employed to solve this problems was efficient deployment of manpower. Instead of having all 3 of us going down to the companies’ labs on a particular day, we only sent 1 or 2 members down each time (which was sufficient), unless the need arises for all of us to go down at the same time. Looking back, I think that this strategy was effective, and perhaps the best method to resolve our problem at that time. This is because it ensured efficiency and to a great extent, allowed us to have more time for other commitments without compromising on our project. Such a strategy can be employed in many other different situations. In fact, I have already used this strategy in my CCA. For our competition training, there are 8 secondary 4 trainers and 8 secondary 3 trainees. However, it would be inefficient for all 8 trainers to go down during a training session as there would be some trainers who would have nothing to do and end up simply wasting their time there. Therefore, only 3 trainers were required for each training session. Even though this strategy was highly effective, I believe that prevention is better than cure. Instead of being stressed out and having to come up with a solution to resolve my time constraints issue, it would have been better if I had planned out my time better from the start. Before signing up for a particular activity, I should have put serious consideration into whether I will be able to manage the added demands. Perhaps if I had done so, I would not have opted to be part of the Organising Team of a “Youth for Causes” project , which would free up 5 days of my holiday, allowing me to devote more time to the project and other commitments. In conclusion, even though the process of the project was tedious (such as when we had to reach through stacks of research papers), I managed to learn a lot from it. Being able to work with external companies and having hands-on experience on concrete making and viewing the sedimentary rock stockpile in Jurong Island first-hand were really enjoyable experiences. This project definitely gave me the most pleasant experience out of the 4 in my high school life and I am glad to be able to end my 4 years of project competition journey on a high note!