Imagine a day when airplanes can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for their passengers 30,000 feet up in the air without using generators. Is that possible?
Students from Bukit View Secondary School came up with a solution – using algae in a ‘Dialysis Tubing’ to help absorb carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen through photosynthesis. The project, ‘Algae Savior’, reuses carbon dioxide in the cabin, releases oxygen and decreases the amount of electricity used. Furthermore, the excess algae can be converted into biofuel for the aircraft.
The school is one of the 55 schools in Singapore on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Applied Learning Programme (STEM ALP), with its distinctive programme in Clean Energy and Environmental Technology. The ALP allows students to apply knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom in real world contexts and explore the types of jobs they could aspire towards through connections with post-secondary education and industries.
As part of their ALP curriculum, all lower-secondary students spend one and a half hours each week on projects such as building solar cars and robots with water quality and temperature sensing abilities.
From design to production, Carl Shawn and his team had to ensure that they build a solar car that could travel one meter as quickly as possible within one semester in Secondary One. Through this project, the team was able to understand the concepts of aerodynamics, electronic components, gears and even learnt how to solder wires to build the solar car.
How then, is ALP different compared to normal Science lessons?
‘ALP is significantly more hands-on and the lessons are engaging as compared to Science lessons. I never imagined that I could enjoy the process of building a solar car from stretch,’ said Carl.
These projects enable students to develop specific skill sets through carefully designed programmes. It goes beyond the application of concepts and helps students acquire not only knowledge, but also apply Science, Mathematics, Technology and problem solving in real-life situations.
‘Lessons are definitely more theoretical in Science class. In ALP, we are always working towards a tangible end product. It is also very helpful that the programme spans across subjects, exposing students to skills from various disciplines,’ said Mr Heng Chong Yong, the Head-of-Department for Partnership.
MOE will work towards supporting every secondary school to develop an ALP and Learning for Life Programme (LLP) by 2017. Currently, there are 55 schools with a STEM related ALP and by 2017, about half of the 124 mainstream secondary schools would offer a STEM ALP.