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Ping-pong ball scooper or a jug that won't spill? All the signs the D&T Awards are upon us

16 Jun 2023

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Design and Technology (D&T) trains students in design thinking and prototype-making. So when the annual awards rolls around, expect to see wild pops of imagination and colour everywhere in the students’ entries. Hear what some of them have to say about their inspirations and inventions.

By Kenneth Kwan Yu Heng and Chen Jueying 


Design and Technology (D&T) students across Singapore made a trip to the Ministry of Education headquarters at Buona Vista recently to view the winning entries of this year’s D&T Awards.

They were there to pick up new ideas too, with the ultimate aim of solving real-world problems with their creations.

“As designers, we should make it easier for people to understand the world, to experience the world,” says Bedok View Secondary School graduate Bakri Bin Borham, whose invention “Spills No More” won him the Creative Invention Award.

The annual awards, organised by MOE, National Institute of Education and the Design and Technology Educators Society, are given out in various categories to recognise good design, creativity and innovation. They encourage students to engage in a thoughtful design-thinking process when deriving meaningful solutions to everyday problems. D&T is an examinable subject offered at secondary school level, where students engage in designing and prototyping ideas and solutions using technology.

During the exhibition, which was held from 31 May to 6 June 2023, the lobby of the MOE HQ was awash with colour and life as the various gadgets and gizmos on display stands invited passers-by to touch, read and imagine how they could improve their lives in so many ways, possibly surfacing problems they never knew they had or could solve.

Schoolbag meets some of the award-winners, who share the inspiration behind their inventions as well as their passion and hopes for the future of D&T. 

Creative Invention Award: Spills No More – to pour liquids without spilling

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Bakri Bin Borham’s invention was inspired by his grandfather’s friend, who is a Parkinson’s patient. After observing that the man had difficulty pouring and drinking water due to the tremble in his hands, Bakri thought of how he could make the daily activity easier for him and other Parkinson’s patients.

The result is Spills No More, a set of two holders in one, designed based on the principles of a gyroscope . One holder is for slotting a jug or tumbler, and the other holds a cup – no matter what angle the tumbler is tipped, and even when the hand is shaking, the cup remains in a horizontal position to catch the falling water.

Bakri enjoys D&T lessons as they encourage him to find new perspectives to look at problems, come up with solutions, as well as find inspiration from the world around him to better the solutions. Evidently, the lessons provided him a platform to showcase his talent and creativity. He believes that D&T students can continue to leverage on the skills learnt in the subject and make a difference in the world through their inventions.  

Creative Innovation Award: WriteRight – to write even with a cast on

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If you’ve ever fractured your arm, you’d appreciate WriteRight. This invention helps those whose arms are in a cast to write with greater ease. WriteRight was created by a group of Year 2 students from River Valley High School, comprising Tai Jing Han, Alvin Tan Zhi Qian and Grace Tan En-Yu.

Grace had injured her arm more than once and wasn’t able to write properly each time, which set her back especially during examination season. The team researched on the kind of support that an arm in a plaster cast would require. This led to the design of WriteRight’s triangular shape, to enable the immobilised hand to grip the device for writing, and a pen slot slanted at a precise 57-degree angle for the pen to be run across paper most effectively.

Asked about their biggest takeaways from, Grace shared that her biggest takeaway from D&T lessons was to plan her projects meticulously to avoid surprise changes at the final stages. She also learned to be more patient with herself, she shared with a laugh.

Creative Innovation Award: Turtle Tea Lid – no more fishing around for the teabag tag

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Ever struggled to fish the tag of a teabag out of a cup of boiling hot tea? Abigail Er Shi En's invention, the Turtle Tea Lid, secures the tag so it won’t fall into the tea. The tea lover also worked in other features such as heat retention, the ability to fit different sizes of cups, and get this – a depression to hold your favourite cookie to enjoy with your tea.

Design has intrigued me for the longest time and still continues to intrigue me.” 

- Abigail

The icing on the cake: The cute design, to look like a turtle decided to perch on your cup to offer teatime company. “As a student who took D&T in secondary school, and a polytechnic student currently taking design, I really hope to pursue design in the future,” says Abigail, a graduate from Swiss Cottage Secondary School. “It is definitely a career in my opinion that will never go obsolete.”

Not only do D&T lessons provide students with an opportunity to think creatively, they are also an avenue for them to explore their interests in both design and technology, she adds.

Abigail loves the hands-on aspects of the lessons, which allows her to figure out how products work, and how they function to enhance our daily lives. 

Creative Innovation Award: Whall-E – picks up eraser dust with a smile

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Students dislike generating eraser dust because of the cleaning up they need to do after.

Enter Whall-E, an invention by Yau Fu Pin, a Christ Church Secondary School graduate, to make tidying up fun and easy. The whale-looking gadget lets the user roll nano tape across a desk to pick up dirt. Its ergnonomic rockable shape was thoughtfully planned to cover more surface area with each stroke and provide a relaxing exercise for the wrist too.

When the deed is done, the adhesive tape and gadget can be washed for reuse after reuse, making it environment-friendly too.

After taking up D&T as a subject, Fu Pin saw his budding interest in design soar with every lesson. D&T helped him see how design could be used to solve different and unforeseen problems – and how to work as a team to solve them together, he says.

Creative Adaptation Award: Ping-Pong Ball Picker – leaves more time for training

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Bending down to pick up table tennis balls one by one can be back-breaking and slow the players down, observed Alston Choo Tian Jun and Shi Yu Xiang, current JC1 students from River Valley High School who enjoy the game.
 
Their brainwave? A scooper that can do the job with multiple balls at a time. The Ping-Pong Ball Picker features a rotatable sweeper that collects the balls and drops them into a removable holding unit.
Less time gathering the balls means more time for training, say the students. 
 
D&T is a compulsory subject for Secondary 1 students at their school, but Alston and Yu Xiang decided to continue participating in D&T events after Secondary 1 because of their interest in the subject. “When I’m exposed to all these kinds of technologies, it really motivates me to want more of these hands-on activities, and think of solutions to address real life issues,” says Alston. 
 
 

“We hope that our juniors can continue to use the skills that they have learnt from D&T, to solve real life problems and make our world a better place.” 

- Yu Xiang

 
Yu Xiang shared that through D&T lessons, they learn to identify problems in the world, ideate and generate solutions. They also learn a variety of technical skills and software to make their ideas come to life.
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