Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Final Group Project Title

After consideration, we decided on a project title of: 

Development of a Temperature Control System for an Aquarium

Reasons for Selection:

This project originated from a previously considered project of the "Development of an Automatic Aquarium". However, before we were going to start on the 'Automatic Aquarium' project, we were told by our mentor, Mr Tan that theproject goals were not feasible within the time limit of two months given for the ISS, as at least 10 variables need to be measured and tested, which is complicated and time consuming. Mr Tan had suggested we embark instead on the development of a Temperature Control System for an aquarium, a subset of our current topic. As it only focuses on one variable - temperature, we will be instead going to develop system that ensures efficiency, electricity savings and regulated aquarium temperature. 

After further deliberation, we decided that using a high-power equipment such as the aquarium chiller that is powered from a electrical main for our initial system would be extremely risky, as may cause severe irreparable damage to the equipment, and may result in electrocutions. That is not a desirable scenario, so we would substitute the aquarium chiller with a DC motor, that is powered with few batteries for this first phase of this project. In the second phase after the ISS will we embark on a full-scale version of the Temperature Control System using a aquarium chiller and do testing in a water environment.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Citation of Sources in Literature Review

Source Citation:
Chiu, M. (2010). A multi-functional aquarium equipped with automatic thermal control/fodder-feeding/water treatment using a network remote control system. Retrieved from

In-text Citation: (Chui, 2010)

Source Citation:
Vassallo, E., & Vassallo, H. I. (1977, November 22). Automatic aquarium lighting and fish feeding device. Retrieved from aquarium&printsec=abstract

In-text Citation: (Vassallo & Vassallo, 1977)

Source Citation: 
Kirby, M. J. (1997, June 24). Automatic cleaning aquarium. Retrieved from aquarium cleaner&printsec=abstract

In-text Citation: (Kirby, 1997)

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Proposed Alternative Research Question: Investigation on how Aquaponics can be beneficial to maintenance of an Aquarium (by Chow Zi Jie)


Aquaponics combines hydroponics with aquaculture. Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil in nutrient-rich water. The nutrients are exactly tailored to nourish and meet the growth requirements of the plants. Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and a variety of micronutrients to thrive. 

Normally, in a hydroponics system, synthetic fertilizers added to the water provide all of these essential nutrients. In an aquaponics system, the fish provide nutrients in the form of their excrement. This waste contains nitrogen in the form of ammonia (which is excreted by fish due to its toxicity), along with nutrients like phosphorus and potassium. Nitrifying bacteria that live in the gravel in the fish tank and on the tank walls can convert the ammonia first into nitrites and then to nitrates

The water in the tank, which contains ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, phosphorus, potassium, and other micronutrients, is continuously pumped into a grow bed where the plants are located. The plants remove the nutrients from this water, and nitrifying bacteria in the grow bed (working together with the tank filter) clean the water by converting excess ammonia into nitrates, which plants use to grow. The clean water is then sent back into the fish tank. The grow bed and plants act as a biofilter, cleansing the water so that the fish remain healthy. In smaller, backyard aquaponics systems, the grow bed sits on top of the fish tank and the cleansed water from the grow bed drips back into the tank. In aquaponics, the fish, plants, and beneficial bacteria all depend on each other to live.


The option of an aquaponics system inside that of an automatic aquarium can be considered, as it is very feasible. Since an automatic aquarium system aims to eliminate as much human effort needed to maintain the aquarium in good condition, the bio-filter system created by the plants and the nitrifying bacteria will benefit greatly to the cleanliness of the tank. The conversion of ammonia to nitrates not only give plants suitable nutrients for growth, but also eliminates the toxic ammonia from the fish tank. Ammonia not only affects the fish if too much is in their bodies, but also when there are high ammonia concentration in the water. Fish will be under stress, and will suffer from ammonia poisoning. Prolonged concentration over a few days can result in fatalities. Therefore, the aquaponic system will improve the overall quality of the aquarium water, and reduce fish casualties.


The build cost of a grow bed is relatively cheap, less than $100. It is made of readily available materials, thus can be constructed DIY if preferred. The nitrification bacteria are also in large supply to those aquaponic or aquarium owners, and should be found in most aquarium stores.


In aquaponics, the fishes, plants, and bacteria are interdependent on each other. When fish excrete waste, it provides a source of food for the bacteria. Their digestion process creates nutrients in the form of nitrates for the plants. Plants then use the nitrates for growth, removing it from the water, hence cleansing it. Such a system if self-sustainable, and easily managed, which is further enhanced by the inclusion of an auto-feeding system for the fish. Also, bacteria levels after a short period, can reproduce rapidly, enhancing the conversion of ammonia to nitrates, and thus provide better filtering efficiency. 

Proposed Alternative Research Question: Material Testing (by Darelyn Lim)


Material testing is a method that is used by many engineers to test out the materials used to build structures and buildings. Often, material testing involve deliberately breakage of things. The conditions of the test must be carefully controlled in order to collect the suitable data about the strength and other properties of the materials used in the study. 

The reliability of the material can be measured by the amount of stress, strain and strength. This project will involve making different structures that are strong and light by using uncooked spaghetti and white glue. 

In this project, we will find out the strength of beams made from strands of spaghetti. There are many different brands of spaghetti available in the market and the strength of each strand of spaghetti of different brands is different. By gluing strands of spaghetti together, the strength of the beam is greater. We can also find out if linguine work better than spaghetti and find out the best strength-weight ratio of the different beams. The convenience of attaching the beams to make a strong and light structure is also essential. 

Terms and Concepts: 

Strength to weight ratio


What is the difference between tensile stress and compressive stress?

When you hang a weight from the center of a beam which is supported at both ends, what stress(es) do you induce on the beam, and where?

What geometrical shapes create structures that are both strong and light?


Building a tower made using uncooked spaghetti and white glue is easy and convenient as many brands of spaghetti is available in the market. We are given a time period of 3 weeks to complete the project and it is certainly possible to meet the deadline. This project will be able to make structures that are light and strong which will be useful for future architectural designs. The lab equipments needed for this project is also readily available in the research lab. This project is also cost effective as it only requires purchasing different types of spaghetti from the market and maybe linguine. 

Proposed Alternative Research Question: The Cannon Fungus: Grow a Fungus That Fires Objects at Light Sources (by Rachit)

The Cannon Fungus: Factors Affecting the Growth of the Fungus That Fires Objects at Light Sources

Introduction: The Pilobolus fungus has an interesting way of making sure the next generation has a good start on life. At high speed, the fungus shoots a sac that contains spores toward a light source. Why toward a light source? Because that is where it is most likely to find an open area with grass. Once the spore is placed on grass, it is eaten by a cow or a horse, which is a critical step in its life cycle. The spore passes through the animal's digestive track and ends up in a pile of manure. For a fungal spore, this is the perfect place to be, since it is warm and full of nutrients. The spore then grows to become a mature fungus, eventually making a new "spore cannon," and the cycle begins anew. In this biology science fair project, you will grow a Pilobolus culture (though not in manure) and test how its "spore cannon" responds to various light conditions.

Feasibility: To find out where the spore cannon works best is a good idea to find out where certain kinds of fungi grow in different lights. This will give a good gauge on how the reaction of fungi is. And we can also find out the optimum amount of light for fungi to grow. It will also be easy to find out the other optimum conditions in which this fungus will be shoot the object at light sources. 

Accessibility: There will be a need to order a Pilobolus culture kit online. This might take a while and we will need the teachers' help to place the order. Furthermore, there is a restriction of not sending the kit to places which are near the residential areas. 

Manageability: This project should be easily managed. Firstly, there are not any major safety issues involved in the project. Even though there are not many safety risks to us, there might be dangers to the environment and the introduction of new organism might be a little difficult. We must also be able to find a way to remove the fungus after the duration of the project. The method must not pose a danger to us. 

Task 1

1) What is science?

By definition Science is the  systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiments. Science allows us to discover more of the physical and natural world around us and have a better understanding of the world.

2) What is the scientific method?

The scientific method is a system of investigation which one should follow when proceeding to do a research project. It guides researchers through proper research procedures to allow them to  investigate phenomena, acquire new knowledge or to integrate previous knowledge.