The seventh edition of the ever-popular First Lego League (FLL) in Malaysia saw the tournament take on a green theme. Dubbed ‘Trash Trek’, participants were assigned to think of new, innovative methods of collecting and sorting out trash as well as smart production. There is also more to trash than meets the eye. Thus, young minds were encouraged to come up with novel ways of reusing trash.
R.E.A.L Schools are no strangers to the FLL having participated in every edition since 2009 and winning notable accolades along the way. This year, the R.E.A.L Schools team was represented by three Shah Alam Campus students who collectively called themselves ‘The Hazardous Hackers’. They were Wong Tik Wing (Team Leader), Oscar Tan Jun Hong (Project Manager) and Dennis Lim Yan Bin (Technical Manager). Tik Wing is a Senior 3 student from R.E.A.L Schools National while Oscar and Dennis are both Year 8 students of R.E.A.L International School.
The Hackers’ fascinating project, codenamed ‘The Bacteria Killer Bin (BK Bin)’, was quite an ingenious way of decomposing plastic. With the majority of teams focused mostly on sorting out materials such as paper, glass and waste; the R.E.A.L students took on a different direction by actually decomposing trash. Their trash of choice was plastic, considered to be the most bio-unfriendly material of all.
“I think we did very well on the idea of the BK Bin as we conducted good research. However, due to limited time, we could not express our idea to its fullest potential to the judges,” said team leader Tik Wing. “The unique feature of the bin lies in its sleek design and handling where one can mix plastic bags and soil together so that the plastic bags can biodegrade properly. It works by inserting used plastic bags from the top. The plastic is then secured by a trap door which protects users from direct contact with bacteria. The bin also comes with a water tank that stores rain water to feed the bacteria,” he added.
Oscar Tan elaborated further. “Even recycling requires power which causes pollution to the environment. Decomposition on the other hand, is safer and more environmentally friendly. To show our determination in saving Earth, we thoroughly researched on what plastic bags are made of and experimented on decomposing three types of plastics; namely Type 2 (high density polyethylene or HDPE), Type 4 (low density polyethylene or LDPE) and Type 5 (polypropylene or PP),” he explained.
Dennis Lim, the team’s technical manager who was responsible for programming and robot design, weighed in with his thoughts. “We were able to perform most of the missions successfully, incurring just two or three penalties. I feel that given time, we would have been able to create more complex designs with better functionality,” he lamented.
The tournament, which was held from May 28 to 29 at Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Bahasa Melayu, attracted 100 teams from all over the nation. Participants were evaluated in four categories and the total accumulated points determined the overall winner. For the R.E.A.L Schools team, the event ended on a high note after they clinched the coveted Excellence Award in the ‘Robot Performance’ category. “It has been awhile since we last won the Judges Award. I hope this will encourage our students to excel, not just in tournaments but in life as well,” said Mr. Ong Poh Lai, Technical Director of Team FLL.
The award can be attributed to the team’s winning combination of teachers and students from both International and National schools. Early preparation was also crucial to their success, having started work since October 2015. Despite time constraints and clashes in schedule, the team managed to do ample research and analysis on robot and prototype design. They also learned a lesson or two on entrepreneurship by effectively raising funds for the project. The budding inventors were able to collect RM1,250 and generating a net gain of RM950 after expenses. With this substantial balance in funds, the team magnanimously decided to channel the money towards building a new, customized FLL table for the benefit of future teams.
“I am very proud of our students’ effort and dedication. They had spent more than 30 sessions of intensive training during the school holidays. Despite being a young team, they were focused and shared a common goal”, said Dr. Khoo Sui Sin, Project Manager of Team FLL 2015/16. She was assisted by the experienced Mr. Ong Poh Lai and Ms. Lin Chun Xiu.
Ms. Serena Chow, General Manager of R.E.A.L Schools, Shah Alam Campus, concurred. “It’s great to have a team represent the campus and this year we literally have a team made up of both National and International students. Despite being only a three-man team, these young gentlemen from both the Secondary divisions made headway in the world of FLL. They worked so well together, complementing each other for a common goal,” she said.