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NXplorers at Tanglin

Since its launch in 2022, the Institute@Tanglin has hosted and supported many learning opportunities for our community. These included SC Ventures, David Faulkner Speaker Series, a workshop with fine artist Ian Murphy and a talk by Martin Cox from the John Locke Institute as well as the NXplorers programme. 

If NXplorers sounds familiar, that’s because we featured our very first student team (Year 13 students Ishani, Meenakshi, Prishni and Sara) in the last issue. These enterprising students discovered NXplorers on their own and decided to pursue it under the guidance of their Physics Specialist teacher, Chris Dech. 

Calling themselves Team Energyro, the group focused their research on how they could efficiently harness Singapore’s water resources as a potential renewable energy source. The students collaborated with industry experts to design micro-turbine generators in storm drains that would use rainwater runoff to passively generate electricity. This was supported by the Institute, which helped the group immensely because having expert input from green energy and related STEM fields not only gave them a different perspective on the feasibility and design of their project, it also helped shape their direction.

After successfully proposing their solution, the team received seed money ($2,500) to build a prototype and presented it to representatives from Science Centre Singapore and Shell in November last year. The representatives loved it and had nothing but positive feedback for the students. Mr Lim Yong Chuan from Shell said, “I think the team did a very good job from the way they brainstormed the ideas and came up with different ways to actually solve the problem statement that they have come up with.”
So, what was the inspiration for their hydro solution? Prishni explained, “Ishani and I live near a reservoir and that helped us realise the scope of hydroelectricity.” 

Sara also chipped in, “The four of us didn’t have any prior experience before this so even though we had a few ideas, we weren’t sure how to narrow it down initially. That’s why we are really grateful to have people like our physics and other science teachers as well as our peers who do Design Technology (DT) and have a lot of knowledge in this area to support us. The DT teachers also allowed us to use the DT tools so we could work on our prototype.” 

Teaching the teachers
Having concluded the first round of NXplorers on such a positive note, Tanglin is eager to invite Senior students for the next round. But like all ambitious projects, our teachers must first be familiarised with the inner workings of the programme and trained to guide our students through the process. Chris Dech is one of the five teachers who volunteered for the teacher training. We had a chat with him to find out what the training entailed:
What was the training like and what did you learn?
We were introduced to a variety of NXTools and the training walked us through how to use them and what the purpose of each tool is. The training was grouped by the outcome of each stage of the NXplorers programme. This helps student groups come up with a considered solution to their problem statement and enables them to think of the impact it will have on society.

What kind of NXTools did you learn to use?
NXthinking (considering the big picture, connections, perspective, future and change), developing framework behind the explore stage of programme, Connections circle, scenario planning quadrant, feasibility funnel and ripple effect tools, persuasion pyramid.

What kind of student submissions do you hope to see this year after the previous one?
So far, we have three Year 12 teams (Power Rangers, Energyro II and Biodiesel Bearers) who have shown an interest in this year’s programme, looking at developing energy to aid in food production, biofuel production from food waste and a final group eager to continue the hydroturbine project and bring it to new places. We hope that while one group will continue with the NXplorers programme externally, the other two will be funded within the school to create a positive impact on the community and contribute to the school’s sustainability goals. One team has since attended a training session at Nanyang Polytechnic to learn about Micro:bit controllers and get an update on the NXplorer programme, so we are definitely excited to see how their projects will turn out! 

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