Bright sparks

YOUNG inventors at Perth College Junior School have come up with a device to help kids play safely in the sun.

Year five students Bronte Fong, Violet Horgan, Rachel Lee and Olivia Henry were tasked with identifying a problem in their community and coming up with a solution.

They invented a device that detects UV rays and warns when it’s too toasty for kids at Marjorie Mann Day Centre to play.

Centre director Shelley Carlin said “we brainstormed ideas with the Perth College staff and students about the issues we faced as a local community organisation, and came up with a device so we could always be aware of the UV levels and not have to rely on Googling it whilst out in the playground”.

• Perth College inventors Bronte Fong, Violet Horgan, Rachel Lee and Olivia Henry point at their UV indicator. Photos supplied

Sun safety

“The final product exceeded my expectations and the device has already been very useful for knowing the current UV levels and also helping teach the children in our care about sun safety.”

The device was built with an Arduino board, a programmable circuit board, and it reads UV levels and then lights up different coloured bulbs depending on how high the UV is: blue light mean there’s little chance of sunburn, a green light means children and staff should wear a hat and sunscreen, and a red light means UV levels are too high

When Ms Carlin finally saw the device she said she was astonished.

“They talked me through how they programmed the device, what they know about UV, and the technologies they used,” she says.

“I could see their enjoyment and pride as they explained how they device was used and how they made it work”.

• The UV indicator created by Perth College students.

The year 5 inventors are part of Perth College’s STEaM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) programme, and director Jessi Ussi says the project needed a good understanding of UV light. “The engineering design process, and a great deal of mathematics…what is even more important is they now understand how they can adopt these to solve real-world problems in the community,” she says.

Still a largely male-dominated realm, there’s been a push in recent years to get more females involved in STEaM.

Last year the federal government invested $8 million, under the National Innovation and Science Agenda, in a variety of projects, including getting WA school girls along to Murdoch Uni to encourage them to study science, and a local initiative from Subsea Energy Australia to get more women into the subsea engineering sector.

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