Campus Life: Science is the ultimate superpower at Nord Anglia’s superhero-themed STEAM Festival 2019

Students bring their superhero fantasies to life with innovative tech gadgets created using concepts from science, mathematics, engineering and more

Nicola Chan |

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Thomas Benes spent 10 hours creating a "power glove" equipped with a spinning blade and blaster.

Many kids grow up wishing they had superpowers. These young talented scientists took matters into their own hands and invented tech gadgets to give them superhero-like abilities.

Students from eight international schools across the mainland showcased their original superhero gadget prototypes during the three-day superhero-themed Nord Anglia Steam Festival 2019 – from January 17 to 19.

The event was hosted by Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong with support from the Massachusetts Institute Technology. Young Post spoke to students and teachers about their ingenious ideas and why they love project-based learning.

Inspired by his imagined superhero Shredder, Czech student Thomas Benes, 11, spent 10 hours creating a “power glove” equipped with a spinning blade and a blaster. Powered by two motors, it is made of Lego bricks and Lego Mindstorms EV3, a programmable interface which enables programming and data logging directly onto the bricks.

“Shredder is a [life-saving] superhero who can cut through doors with his shredding machine. I also added a [blaster] to protect him from any supervillains,” the student from British International School in Shanghai, China, shared with Young Post.

Originally, Thomas wanted to build a circular chainsaw for his superhero, but he had to call off his plan after some in-depth research.

“After learning about how a circular chainsaw works, I realised that it uses a lot of energy, and I wouldn’t be able to afford one,” he said. “That’s why I decided to use Lego.”

Unlike Thomas, 14-year-old Lawrence Zhu wanted to possess the power to give electric shocks, an idea sparked by a failed experiment in his science class.

“I was trying to build a circuit. It didn’t work, but created a super powerful electric spark … which gave me the idea of making an electric glove,” said the student from Nord Anglia Chinese International School in Shanghai. His plastic glove is connected to a battery and a regulator. When a user places their thumb and index finger close together, electricity will arc between them to create a spark.

Constructing the circuitry whilst ensuring it was still going to be safe to use was a huge obstacle, Lawrence said. “My first model didn’t work, and I got an electric shock when I was making the second one.”

Although the road to success had its bumps, he said inventing the electric glove was his biggest achievement. “I love it so much.”

While these students were demoing their dream superhero tech, workshops were also being held at the festival. One featured remote-controlled battle bots which students piloted via iPads. Though the base robot had limited movement, students could add on more features such as weapons with the provided materials.

Lawrence also said he preferred the hands-on learning experience to learning in classrooms.

“Students can take interest in building their own project, which could make them enjoy learning even more,” he explained.

The regional lead for NAE-MIT collaboration Darren Sutton agreed, and emphasised that project-based learning is very important.

“It allows students to come up with their own solutions to a problem, and solve it in their own unique, interesting ways,” he remarked.

This was Nord Anglia Education’s first China region interdisciplinary event where students could explore science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics through a university-inspired experiential learning model.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda

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