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It keeps schoolbags light

PETALING JAYA: Tired of waiting for a solution, pupils have taken charge to end the heavy schoolbag problem.
And Year Four pupils from SJK(C) Tun Tan Cheng Lock even bagged awards for their creative solution to the weighty issue.
The 10-year-olds – Bernice Woh Xuan Qi, Ong Ee Xuen, Chow Kay Yue and Chloe Chan Phooi San – received a silver medal and special award at the International Exhibition for Young Inventors 2017 last month in Nagoya, Japan, for their invention – a weighing scale that alerts the user when the load becomes hazardous to health.
The “Weight Watcher” was also named best invention and won a gold award at the recent World Young Inventors Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. Weighing a mere 0.3kg, the device can be fitted into any bag.
Explaining the difference between the electronic and hydraulic versions, Bernice said the former buzzes when the bag exceeds a set weight limit.
“This can be used by the visually impaired.
“Made entirely from recycled materials, the hydraulic version has a liquid indicator. This is useful for hearing impaired pupils,” she said.
The Weight Watcher, said Ee Xuen, was inspired by their daily burden.
“It’s tiring, lugging our schoolbags around every day,” she said during the school’s prize presentation ceremony yesterday.
On Aug 15, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said state and district education officers had visited schools in several states to investigate the perennial heavy schoolbag issue as some schools were burdening pupils with workbooks.
Kay Yue said children should not carry more than 10% of their body weight.
“We set the weight limit at 3kg but this can be adjusted according to the individual’s body weight,” she said.
Chloe said pupils do not realise that the weight they are carrying can injure the spine.
Describing the girls as perfectionists, team mentor Hay Quee Kei said they needed very little help.
“The biggest challenge for them was trying to calibrate the device.
“They did over 100 trials before they were satisfied,” he added.
The school’s headmistress Ngann Sook Wei said they encourage students to be innovative and creative as these are crucial 21st century skill sets.
“Learning must also take place outside the classroom. We want pupils to find solutions to daily problems and become successful inventors,” she said.
The school is part of Kompleks Sekolah Wawasan in USJ15, which also comprises SK Dato’ Onn Jaafar and SJK(T) Tun Sambanthan.
Congratulating the team, Malaysian Invention and Design Society (Minds) president Tan Sri Augustine S.H. Ong said Malaysians, regardless of age, must believe in their ability to be creators.
He said youngsters can come up with ideas seasoned researchers miss, because they ask basic questions that experts brush off.
“I’ve been asked: ‘What can a Malaysian invent that others in the world haven’t already thought of?’
“Plenty. Because the problems we face are different.”
Ong, who is also senior fellow at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, said Malaysians need a change in mindset.
“We must have confidence in ourselves to come up with effective solutions,” he said.
“Ask yourself: ‘What can I do to make this better?
“Don’t just look to Japan or South Korea for solutions.”
He said Minds would work closely with schools to help youngsters take their ideas forward.
“We can introduce them to universities, researchers and experts, who can help develop the ideas,” he added.
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