Hwa Chong Institution (High School)
Projects Competition 2015
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Upper Secondary
Engineering Science
12- 03
Project Title
Mitigation of dengure spread in Singapore
Dengue, a deadly disease transmitted by mosquitoes, has been rapidly spreading in Singapore in recent years. Over 50-100 million infections occur annually, so it is clear that new solutions need to be developed to mitigate the spread of dengue by reducing the breeding rate of mosquitoes, particular the dengue vector Aedes aegypti. In Singapore, various methods have been put in place to combat mosquito breeding, such as fogging and regular checks by the environmental agency. However, researchers have been working on new methods to curb the breeding rate of Aedes aegypti. One area of research is the use of ultrasonic frequencies to kill mosquito larvae in water. It works by vibrating the larvae’s breathing tube at a certain frequency, rupturing it and causing cavitation and death of the larvae. Large commercialized ultrasonic transducers are on the market and are in use in some parts of the world. However, due to its large size, it cannot be used for domestic purposes. Our project aims to create a small scale ultrasonic transducer that is cheap to manufacture and is small enough to be used at home and user-friendly such that people of all ages can use it.
Link to Web-report page
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Link to Video page
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Dr Christina Liew (NEA)
Mdm Chan May Lun (Hwa Chong Institution)
Team Leader/Members

(Name & Class)
Team Leader :

Our journey into this STEM project has brought us a long way since we undertook it at the start of this year. What started out as an endeavor to do research on the spread of dengue in Singapore has morphed into creating a prototype that could potentially be the latest in Singapore's arsenal of dengue-stopping, larva-popping technology to eradicate the pesky disease carriers that we know so well - mosquitoes. It is somewhat of a marvel how a group of four students- ignorant in the world of vector control or electric engineering -have progressed from not knowing where to start, to creating a (almost) working prototype. Over the course of the project, I have picked up many social skills and management skills The adventure that we were part of thus far has been unequivocally exciting, bringing us to parts of Singapore I never would have ventured without participating in this project. After contacting our external mentor, we traveled to places far and wide to meet up, from Biopolis to the NEA building, and even right in school in the physics lab which I had no idea existed before this project. We were granted special permission to tour a biology laboratory specializing in the study of dengue vector research, a true eye-opener of having a first-hand experience inside a professional research environment. I am grateful for the opportunity to undertake this project, which has given me the chance to experience such a plethora of exclusive and interesting learning trips. I will admit that in my three years of doing Independent Studies in Hwa Chong, this project was easily the most challenging, and we faced countless obstacles and difficulties along the way. However, through pure grit and sheer determination, we managed to pull through and get ourselves to where we are now, and as an added bonus, also subconsciously learnt valuable life skills. The first of our challenges was the engineering aspect of the project. Originally, we had never intended to take part in STEM. We wanted to do non-experimental research to double up as our Humanities research paper, and furthermore, we had zero experience in engineering. After encouragement from our mentor, we decided to go for it. We did background research, brainstormed possible solutions, and even sought advice from external mentors. Up to this point, we were still managing quite well. Only during the road up to semi-finals, when we started building the circuit, did we run into major problems. We met up, with the parts ready, only to realize that we had no idea what was going on. After countless attempts to build the circuit, we still failed. There were other problems too, where the circuit was working yet the transducers did not respond at all. We were rather disheartened at the results, and we decided to call it a day. However, one of our group members stayed up that night to learn more about circuitry, and eventually he was able to make some headway on our circuit. The next day, we arranged to meet with the physics lab technician and consult her for help. With the proper communication and a dedicated mindset, we were able to complete the prototype with the correct pulse under expert guidance just in the nick of time for the semi-finals, as well as test out the transducers at the lab to record some results. I feel that the way we managed to work under pressure and think of ways of getting help where we needed it is an achievement for us. Instead of cracking under pressure, we finished the prototype in time and had something substantial to present. However, I feel that this could have been partially avoided if we foresaw that we were too inexperienced and started learning earlier. Another problem was the cooperation within our group. Firstly our members were from two classes, so meeting up and discussing was not always a breeze. The onus on us to make good use of the time spent meeting up, which was not always the case. Sometimes, we would not even get any work done, and waste a lot of time. Other times, when we did not agree on something or had an argument, especially under the stress of the looming finals or semi-finals, there would be angry outbursts and high tension. At these times, I felt that I should step out of my comfort zone and try to mediate between my groupmates. As the group leader, I feel that I have the responsibility to ensure that everyone is happy and on task. As I tell myself to bear this in mind, the number of conflicts gradually decreased and we were all able to stay on the same page at the end of the day. I also got to understand my friends more and learn how they work, so that in the future we can be more efficient. In conclusion, this project has offered a fruitful and meaningful learning experience that will never be forgotten. Not only did I have fun, I learnt the importance of cooperation and teamwork, as well as work to work fast and work smart. I do not regret not doing non-experimental research, even though I feel that STEM is more tiring.

Group Members :

The project we embarked on this year has been a fruitful learning journey. From the creation of the team to the finals of the competition, I have learnt many things that will possibly benefit me in future endeavours. First of all, the reason why we started this project is because of the increasing prevalence of dengue fever. Thus, we aimed to mitigate the threats of this mosquito-borne disease. After initial research, we learnt of the details of the Aedes Aegypti and potential breeding spots. It expanded my knowledge of dengue and how we can combat it. We brainstormed several ideas but decided on the usage of ultrasonic transducers to kill mosquitos at the larvae stage. The materials were bought at a relatively low price and the prototype was made. We needed several revisions to the prototype as we did not have much knowledge and experience in this sector. It was frustrating at times but with the help of the external mentor, we managed to produce a working prototype. Despite that, testing at a NEA lab determined that the power of the transducer was too low. Nevertheless, the setback did not affect too much of what we have learnt and this was truly a unique experience.
This year’s project was certainly an eye opener for me. Before this, I had little knowledge of how to deal with dengue and I certainly did not know how fumigation was bad for our health. This project allowed me to learn much more about the current situation about dengue and how we can do our part to fight dengue. The trips to the EHI and NEA were very enjoyable and I managed to learn much from the external mentor. I feel that learning more about dengue is very applicable to our lives and it will certainly be useful in the future. The use of ultrasonic waves to kill mosquito larvae was a new concept to me as I have not learnt about resonance ultrasonic frequencies. Through this project, I was able to grasp such concepts and apply them to our solution. I also became more aware of the limitations of current solutions and the advantages of our solution. This really broadened my horizon and made me realise that there can be many solutions to fight dengue. Though we faced challenges and setbacks along the way, eg. the transducers didn’t produce a frequency at the start, I feel that we were still able to bounce back and get around these challenges. In conclusion, I felt that this was truly an interesting and unique experience for me and even though the final product did not work well due to power issues, I still feel that we learnt much from this project and did our best.
I embarked on a STEM project earlier this year with my group, and over the course of this project, have gained many valuable insights and have also learned a lot about the field. We embarked on the project without having any experience with circuitry or engineering, and yet, we persevered and continued on with the project. We first learned about the extent of dengue spread in Singapore and around the world when we began doing research on a topic, and we wanted to come up with a low-cost and easy to use device to combat the breeding of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. During the ideation process, we worked together as a group to come up with different ideas, and ran them through our external mentor before finally deciding to use ultrasonic transducers to kill mosquito larvae as it seemed the most feasible. Despite facing many setbacks, failures and obstacles, we persevered and managed to get the transducer working, and although our project did not ultimately work, we learnt a lot in the process, and have grown both cognitively and affectively. This project has taught me basic circuitry, and also the basics of ultrasonic waves. I have learnt to assemble a circuit, read a circuit diagram, and ultimately use these skills to assemble a prototype. I have also learnt to troubleshoot my prototype and not only research the concept behind the prototype but also how to apply said concepts to better and improve the prototype. Over the course of the project, I have also learned to work more closely with my groupmates and trust them more. In the beginning, I had difficulties letting others do the work in the project as I believed that I could do it better. However, through the course of the project, I have learnt the importance of working together as a team, and allowing others to step in with a fresh perspective as it would allow for a more productive discussion, and ultimately would help to further the project. I have also learned to persevere in the face of setbacks and obstacles, and this has ultimately allowed me to be a more resilient person in the face of adversity. One particular problem that plagued us throughout the project was that we had no prior experience in circuitry. As such, we had to take the initiative to learn as much as we could about it and help each other along as we assembled the prototype, and ultimately, this has helped us to not only learn concepts, but also apply them in a practical manner, and has also allowed us to engage in self-directed learning. To solve the adversity posed by a lack of knowledge in the subject, we worked together as a team to learn different aspects of the field, and came together to collectively work on the assembly of the prototype. This honed our cohesion and my ability to work with others as a team. When we reached a wall during our online research and reading, we then turned to our external mentor for help, and he provided us with encouragement and advice to take our project to the next level. He also offered insights as to why our prototype may have failed to work efficiently during testing, and this allowed us to make the necessary modifications to our project and improve it. When the initial circuit diagram failed to yield results, we turned to alternatives by using new parts and following a new circuit diagram, and ultimately, this allowed us to get the prototype working. This taught me that I must not be afraid to start over in order to get something right, and that I should try other methods when I fail to fix a problem instead of simply trying to fix it the same way over and over again. Ultimately, the strategies we employed to overcome the adversities that we faced turned out to be rather effective, however, we could have done more to improve on these strategies. For example, instead of studying on the field as we worked, we could have studied it beforehand, and gotten a better understanding of how everything works before attempting to assemble the prototype. This would have allowed us to progress much faster and more smoothly and would have helped prevent a lot of frustration. I believe I should have allowed others to help me more, as that would have not only saved me a lot of frustration but would also have allowed my gorupmates to learn more from the project and ultimately would have allowed our project to advance even more. While consulting our external mentor yielded valuable advice and insights, we could have improved this by consulting him more regularly and prepared more for our consultations as it would not only improve the quality of the feedback, but also the quantity. I believe that as a whole, we managed to work well together, but we could have worked better together as our teamwork only really started to show towards the finals as we worked harder together to push our team through. In the end, while we may not have accomplished the feat of getting an A*, we still learnt a lot through the process, and I personally feel that I have grown a lot.