The science of giving the imagination free rein

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 September, 2005, 12:00am

Visitors were treated to a magical mystery tour of futuristic amusements at Hong Kong's annual showcase of scientific inventions by secondary school students.

A rotating tea-house, a pair of musical gloves and a free-standing, auto-drying umbrella were among delights dreamed up by Form Six students for the 38th Joint School Science Exhibition on the theme 'Fantasy - Amusement in Science'.

Teams from 47 schools entered the contest of scientific innovation that is run by students for students and 26 short-listed projects went on display for four days at the Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay this week.

Organiser Tammy Ho, an A-level student at the Hang Seng School of Commerce, said: 'The students have done a great job combining fantasy, amusement and science to make something that you might think was impossible.'

Innovations contributed by five universities - to show school students what they could go on to achieve - included a pair of small walking robots from City University and a low-cost video-conferencing system from Chinese University.

Winning entries from contests in the mainland, Taiwan, South Africa and Kuwait were also on display. Sponsors Philips Electronics Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust helped fund the foreign teams to attend.

Six teams from five primary schools also displayed winning projects from the Hong Kong Youth Science and Technology Contest.

The overall champions and winners in six categories were announced on Tuesday after entries were judged by a panel of seven university professors for qualities including creativity and practical value.

A team from St Paul's College reclaimed the championship trophy with their double invention of a stereoscopic magic box and stereoscopic camera lens, offering novel ways to create 3D images.

Project leader Keith Wan Hay-man said: 'Existing technology for providing images that can be viewed through 3D lenses is extremely complex.

'We have invented a new way of creating 3D images that can be used with an ordinary camera and is cheap and simple. We did a lot of trials in the lab and after a few days, we finally had the idea of using polarization to create 3D pictures.'

However relatively inexpensive the process may be, building a prototype was beyond the financial means of the school and the team won on the strength of their conceptual model alone.

But Keith is determined its potential should be realised. 'We hope to attract some university, research centre or private company to develop our invention into a commercial product,' he said. Anyone interested can contact him on 9378 8566.