Primary school pupils participate in a green project to assemble mini cars.
IT WAS a hot afternoon but the group of primary schoolchildren seemed unaffected by the heat as they went about testing their solar-powered cars to ensure they were in perfect working order.
For the mini cars to function efficiently, they had to run on power generated by a solar panel that converted solar energy to kinetic energy through a mini motor system. They were then connected to the wheels of the car using a rubber band.
Muhd Harith Haziq Zahari, 9, from SK Sungai Merab Luar.
“The trick is to make sure that the rubber band is loosely fitted for the car to work,” said nine-year-old Muhd Harith Haziq Zahari of SK Sungai Merab Luar.
He was one of 200 pupils from nine primary schools in the Klang Valley who participated in the Agilent After School programme held at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) campus in Bangi.
With a “green” theme this year titled ‘Saving Earth, Green is In’, each pupil was given a science kit to assemble their own mini car, with the help of volunteer university students from UKM, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Tenaga Nasional.
Divided into groups of five, the pupils were then required to race their assembled cars on a mini race track set up for them at the UKM premises.
Muhd Harith’s ingenious idea paid off, when he was announced the champion.
Holding his prize, the beaming Year Three pupil said he would share his prize with his siblings.
Participant Evonne Goh Voon Li, 12, from SJK (C) Sungai Chua, Kajang, said she had fun learning how to build a solar-powered car.
“It was exciting to be able to build our own car as we have never done anything like that in school, plus we get to race our cars afterwards!”
Likewise, SJK (T) West Country pupil S. Keewan, 11, said that apart from learning about how solar power can be converted into energy, he made new friends with a similar interest. He explained that the solar panel had to directly face the sun so that the car could move faster.
The pupils racing their solar-powered cars at the mini race track.
Science teacher Rohana Yahaya from SK Merab Luar, Kajang said that such events encouraged students to learn about renewable and non-renewable energy, which was very much related to the school syllabus.
“Since they get to create their own cars, they are sub-consciously applying what they’ve been learning at school.”
Agilent Technologies vice-president and general manager Daniel Mak said a hands-on activity encouraged young children to learn and acquire skills.
“Although specific instructions were given to participants on how to construct their cars, many of them would take their cars home and modify them to see how they can make them run faster or work better.”
He said that allowing pupils to take home their projects had sparked a spirit of innovation amongst them.
“It is not the competition alone but the experience that we want them to take home,” he added.
Education policy development and education sector deputy director general Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof who launched the event, said it was important to educate pupils about natural resources from a young age.
“I believe that pupils are very inspired to learn through such programmes because they get to work on the theories they’ve been taught at school.”
He added that the ministry would continue to support programmes that would help develop a child’s learning process.
“The Agilent After School programme was first launched in 2001, and has since reached over 500,000 pupils in more than 14 countries. In Malaysia, more than 5,000 students have benefited from the programme.
Mak said, “Programmes like this allow us to nurture, excite and motivate the young ones, and it is important to start at an early age because we want to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers.”