Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Project Experiences

Fastest Ball Challenge:
Today we carried out an experiment about the angle of a ramp required to make a ball bearing roll across a particular stretch of about one meter at the shortest period of time. We experimented on what particular inclination of the ramp would be the most appropriate for a fast run. During an early briefing, we were given two challenges. The first challenge was to find a particular angle that would make the ball reach the end of the stretch for the shortest period of time. The second challenge is very similar to the first, however with the addition of cooking oil to the stretch, to test whether lubrication would shorten the duration of the run.
During the first challenge, we had to undergo myriads of attempts to see which ramp angle would work best. Angles included are in between a range of 18º to 55º, and for each angle we tested around three to four tries. Despite changing the angles rather dramatically, timing usually remained between 0.62s to 0.72s. A particularly good angle was about 30º or 35º, which took about 0.62s.
Our second challenge was to repeat what we have done in the first experiment. Except with oil on the surface of the track. This was even trickier as we had to factor in the lack of friction into our new measurements.
The competition results have not been released. But we are not hoping for much. 
A difficulty we have faced in this project is the angle. We have continuously calculated the angle wrongly and this led us to over-assuming that we have reached our predicted optimum angle. Also, our lack of knowledge on trigonometry has led us to be unable to calculate the angle using the sine. Thus, we settled to using the height/opposite side of the triangle. 

Extraction of Caffeine from Beverages
Plenary Sessions (Day 1)
  1. My Key Learning Points From Each Session.
  1.   Plenary session by Prof Kerry Sieh.
Our region: South-East Asia, resides at an extremely earthquake prone area. Many lives are at risk. However, it is possible to estimate when and where the earthquakes might strike. 
By analyzing layers of soil, or dead corrals, we can see layers of sediments brought into the earth through tsunamis, or in the case of corrals, the regions where they have died out in large By carbon-dating these soil samples, we can find out when the tsunamis, which are triggered by earthquakes, have struck.
After a series of analysis, research concluded that earthquakes in these region occur in sets of two. After all, the past hundred years always had an earthquake striking after another, followed by a long period of silence.
As we know there has been a recent earthquake, it is highly probable that another earthquake would follow. Thus, the scientists would then be able to predict and evacuate the people affected by such a thing, saving many lives.
  1.   Plenary session by Prof Seah Hock Soon
Math has a very important aspect to play in animations, to increase how realistic it may be or create special effects. For example, calculus is used to create shadows and light, while the laws of physics have to be applied to motion of objects.
There are 2D and 3D animation and one stop. However, 2D is extremely labor intensive, of lower quality, and harder to incorporate special effects, 3D, is less expensive, easier, higher quality, and easy to make special effects. But, it requires specific equipment to carry out.
  1. Plenary session by Prof Ma Jan
Nanotechnology is one of the many fields of science. Others include; biotechnology, electronic technology and defense technology. Nanotechnology, however, is the design, fabrication and application of nano (very small) materials.
Nanotechnology is perhaps a whole new frontier of science that humans have begun to breach. Soon, we would be able to manipulate the properties of atomic particles through electronic atomization, make our own elements, who knows what else? We can make nano machines that can detect and destroy tumors from weeks of formation.
Nanotechnology has indeed made interesting progress. We are beginning to manufacture mesoporous materials, high dielectric materials. Hydrothermal engineering, or making of ceramics and carbon fibers are too recent developments.
  1. New Questions
Could we ever stop earthquakes, or completely resist them?
Can nanotechnology banish the curse of mortality?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Discussion Questions From Your Mentor

Upload the questions that were posed by your mentor here and answer them.

Our Achievements

  • What did you achieve by completing this project? When answering this question, consider both personal and academic development.
  • Post photographs and videos that you recorded during the project here.
  • Describe how the design of your experiment or the design of your product allowed you to achieve the projects desired outcomes.
  • Identify possible limitations (restrictions) to your project. When answering this question, consider the design of your experiment or the design of your product.
  • Suggest possible improvements that could be made in order to minimize the limitations that you have identified.


1. What does the group need to accomplish by the end of the project?

FASTEST BALL CHALLENGE: The main objective of this challenge is to determine the angle of inclination, 0 , for which the time of travel across the horizontal track will be least. We will have to make use of the concepts of conservation of energy, kinetic and potential energy to win this challenge. Students will also make use of a stopwatch and photogate sensors in their data acquisition.

CAFFEINE EXTRACTION: In this experiment you will extract caffeine from tea. You will encounter the following techniques:
1) Büchner filtration
2) Solvent extraction
3) Distillation using a rotary evaporator

2. How will you know whether or not your project has been successful? 

FASTEST BALL CHALLENGE: Our ball will be the fastest among everyone else's balls! And our calculations will be precise and accurate, supporting our hypothesis.

CAFFEINE EXTRACTION: We are able to successfully extract the encouraged amount of caffeine using all three methods.


Read the introduction, objectives and theoretical background to the project and then answer the following questions:
  • What main theory or concept is the project based on?
The application of the conservation of energy principle provides a powerful tool for problem solving. Newton's laws are used for the solution of many standard problems, but often there are methods using energy which are more straightforward. For example, the solution for the impact velocity of a falling object is much easier by energy methods. The basic reason for the advantage of the energy approach is that just the beginning and ending energies need be considered; intermediate processes do not need to be examined in detail since conservation of energy guarantees that the final energy of the system is the same as the initial energy. In this exercise, make use of the principle of conservation of energy to solve the challenge.

A useful rule of thumb for judging solubility is “like dissolves like”. Organic compounds tend to be soluble in organic solvents. Polar materials, such as salts tend to be more soluble in polar solvents, such as water.
Some organic compounds are exceptions and are more soluble in water than in organic solvents. This is because they have a large number of polar functional Groups, such as hydroxyl groups, relative to the amount of hydrocarbon. Glucose is an example of this kind of molecule.
In general, an organic compound and an inorganic salt can be easily separated using these solubility differences. If a mixture of 1-4 dimethoxybenzene and lithium chloride is dissolved in a mixture of diethyl ether and water, both will dissolve. The mixture will separate into two clear layers. One will be the “organic layer” and it will contain the 1-4, dimethoxybenzene. The other will be the aqueous layer, and it will contain the lithium chloride. If the organic layer is separated from the aqueous, dried to remove traces of water and then evaporated, pure 1-4, dimethoxybenzene will be obtained.

  • What do you already know about this theory or concept?
As for the theory of energy conservation: Energy cannot be destroyed nor created, it can only be converted from other forms of energy. 

Caffeine is an example of a type of organic weak base called an alkaloid – alkaloid means "alkali-like‟. Caffeine is a stimulant and is found naturally in tea, coffee and kola nuts. Other examples of alkaloids include cocaine (a drug of abuse), strychnine (a poison), morphine (a pain killer), piperine (found in black pepper) and quinine (used to treat malaria and added to tonic!). Clearly some alkaloids are beneficial and others extremely harmful.

Our Team

Our team consists of:
Cowan Ho (S2-02)
Dylan Loo (S2-07)