Monday, 8 July 2013

Research Proposal

 NG KEEN YUNG(18)               

Type of project
-Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research
e.g. Development of a SMART and GREEN energy system for households  


Acidity is an important factor affecting the conductivity of aqueous solutions (Covington, Bates and Durst, 1985). However, we need to define the acidity. Thus, we have a pH scale and pH.

The concept of pH was first introduced by Danish chemist Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen at the Carlsberg Laboratory in 1909 (Sørensen, 1909) and revised to the current symbol pH at 1929 to keep it consistent with definition and measurements of electrochemical cells. The meaning of pH has been widely disputed. As Nørby (2000) reported, “Current usage in chemistry is that p stands for “decimal cologarithm of”, as also in the term  pKa, used for acid dissociation constants.” (p. 25)
The pH scale is traceable to a set of standard solutions whose pH is established by international agreement (Covington, Bales and Durst, 1985) The pH is defined as the decimal logarithm of  the reciprocal of the  hydrogen ion activity, aH+, in a solution.
This definition is adopted because ion-selective probes, which is used to measure pH, respond to activity. Ideally, electrode potential, E, follows the Nernst equation, which, for the hydrogen atom can be expressed as follows:

(where E is measured potential,  E0 is the standard electrode potential, R is the gas constant, T is the temperature in kelvin, F is the Faraday Constant. For H+ number of electrons transferred is one)

For example, it is necessary to control the pH of an aquarium as some species of fish can only live within a set pH range. Other fields where controlling the pH is important include hydroponics, fermentation processes like beer and wine production, environmental monitoring of soils, sewage treatment tanks, monitoring of solution and buffers in chemistry laboratories. It is quite hard to find good and cheap pH sensors. So we have decided to build a cheap and simple pH sensor with easily accessible materials. We will be build it so it can fit in a box with a small display making it portable. Building a small and cheap pH sensor will benefit many people by making pH sensor a widely available product.

  • To perform research and develop a pH sensor that is both reliable and affordable.
  • Find ways to improve the functionality to make it a much more usable product.
  • Integration of various sensors to provide consumers with a one stop solution to all their measurement needs.

C. Specifications:
  • Must be affordable.
  • Must fit in a box the size of a typical scientific calculator.
  • Must be portable.
  • Must be able to run on both wall circuit and 2 x 9V rectangular battery.
  • Must be reliable
  • Build a digital pH meter that you can use instead of an expensive industrial ph meter or benchtop ph meter for a fraction of the cost.

  • Instead of using a pH probe, one can simply use a widely available  litmus paper to test for the approximate value of pH.
    • This method, however, is not accurate and is not suited for use in industries that require precise values, not vague guesses. Such example would be in the aquatic industry, in which the pH would affect the business itself (a fish farm would be a good example for this, as some fish are adapted to live in certain pH values)
  • Another solution would to be to use the conductivity of the medium to find the pH.
    • This is not used as it is overly complicated. However, for people that need to know pH without having to go through the hassle of calibrating the sensor, they can use this method for its versatility. It is called the inferred pH, calculated from the cation conductivity and normal conductivity.

  • TL082 pH probe
  • Arduino with codes
  • Voltmeter
  • Seven beakers of water
  • Sulphuric acid to make water acidic
  • Baking soda(sodium bicarbonate) to make alkaline



  1. Purchase the materials needed for conducting the experiment from Sim Lim Square. Compile a part list to ensure the correct equipment is bought.
  2. Conduct a quality check to ensure that all equipment purchased is not defective. If equipment is defective , exchange it immediately.
  3. Assemble all the parts together carefully under the guidance of an article related to our project.
  4. Once we finished the creation of the pH meter, we would install in the code that acts like the “brain” of the meter, enabling all the parts to work together.
  5. Prepare seven beakers of water, using sulphuric acid and sodium bicarbonate to change the pH of the different beakers, but leave one beaker unchanged and label it as “Control”. Label the others according to their respective pH.
  6. Then, we would proceed on to test the our pH meter on the beakers of water.
  7. Then, we would proceed on to test the reliability of our readings to ensure that our pH meter is accurate. We accomplish this by testing our results against the results of other commercially available pH meters.
  8. Repeat step 7 and 8 three times, then  average and plot the data on a graph to prevent random errors.
  9. If we manage to achieve a percentage error of less than 10%, we would then proceed on to improve on its functionality by making it portable.
  10. If we did not manage to achieve a percentage error below 10%, we would work on calibrating the sensor until we have achieve our goal.
  11. Once we have ensure that everything is working properly, we would then proceed on to make it portable.
    1. We would try to fit it into a compact package (that includes shrinking the size down to as small as possible)
    2. We would need to find a portable power source ( for example 2x9V rectangular battery). The Arduino is a relative low power device (9V to 12V) and can  be powered with a commercially available batteries. (which is convenient)
  12. Remember to document the project and include in videos and pictures

G. Risk and Safety

1. List/identify the hazardous chemicals, activities, or devices that will be used.
-There is a risk of electrocution from mishandling of wires and electricity.
-The acids and alkalis that will be used are corrosive and can harm skin greatly if mishandled.

2. Identify and assess the risks involved.
-Care must always be taken when handling tools.
-Follow lab rules strictly to prevent injury from incorrect usage of machinery.

3. Describe the safety precautions and procedures that will be used to reduce the risks.
-Use gloves and proper lab materials when holding the test tubes of acids and alkalis.
-Clean hands thoroughly so we do not contaminate any of the liquids.
-Keep water away from Arduino sets  and the voltmeter to prevent electrocution.

H. Data Analysis
We will be comparing our pH meter to a store-bought sensor. We will test our meter against the store-bought meter on jars of water that have different acidity as explained  under Procedures. We will be using Arduino to help us extract and plot the data on a graph. We will then plot the data from our pH sensor against that of the store-bought sensor. If our data is correct, the line graph that is plotted should have a gradient very close to one.
This is the target accuracy of our developed pH sensor compared to the commercial sensor. If data from our sensor closely matches that of commercial sensor, sensor is properly calibrated.


1. Benoit, A. (2013, July 09). pH, Conductivity and TDS. Retrieved from

2. Covington, A. K.; Bates, R. G.; Durst, R. A. (1985). Pure Appl. Chem. 57 (3): 531–542.

2. Covey, J. (2007, November 01). Inferring pH from conductivity and cation conductivity. Retrieved from

3. Crispa, H. (2006, September 07). Creation of a DIY conductivity meter. Retrieved from

^ Nørby, Jens (2000). "The Origin and the Meaning of the Little p in pH". Trends in the Biochemical Sciences 25 (1): 36–37.

4. Pratical, M. (2011, August 11). DIY EC Probe. Retrieved from

5. Reithmayer, K. (2013, July 10). pH Calibration. Retrieved from

6. Sorensen, S. P. L., Enzymstudien. II, Über die Messung und die Bedeutung der Wasserstoffionenkonzentration bei enzymatischen Prozessen, Biochem. Zeitschr., 1909, vol. 21, pp. 131–304.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Research Question for Project 2

1-Will all types of plants will be able to grow when the direction of gravity changes?

2-How is it possible for the plants to grow when the gravity changes

3-What are the equipment needed?

4-How will it make it face the sun for it to photosynthesis?

5-Are we using a different light source and not the sun?

6-How are we going to water the plants?

7-Method of carrying out experiment

8-How will this be useful to us?

Project 2 Hypothesis

How Do Roots Grow When the Direction of Gravity Changes?

Hypothesis-If the direction of a gravitational pull is changed then the roots of a plant will grow in the same direction of the changed gravitational pull because the easiest direction for the roots to grow in is the direction that gravity pulls the roots towards.

Independent Variable-direction of gravity

Dependent Variable-Growth of plants

Constant-types of plants

Selected Project 2-How Do Roots Grow When the Direction of Gravity Changes?

How Do Roots Grow When the Direction of Gravity Changes?

Time RequiredLong (2-4 weeks)
Material AvailabilityReadily available
CostAverage ($40 - $80)
SafetyNo issues.


You might not know it, but plants are able to sense their environment and actually respond appropriately. One of the key parameters that every plant must respond to is the direction of gravity: stems go up (opposite to the pull of gravity) and roots go down (in the same direction as the force of gravity). In this project, you will construct simple devices that hold several germinating seeds, which allow you to watch how growing rootlets respond as you rotate the devices, effectively altering the direction of gravity.


In this science project, you will study how growing rootlets respond to gravity.


David Whyte, PhD and Teisha Rowland, PhD, Science Buddies
  • Plexiglas® is a registered trademark of Rohm and Haas Co.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Getting a Bang Out of Breath Spray: Studying the Chemistry and Physics of a Small Explosion

Objectives of Experiment: Shoot a film canister into the air by igniting trapped ethanol with a spark. Will study the chemistry and physics of the explosion.

Independent Variables: Pressure within film canister. 
Dependent Variables: Maximum height and distance obtained by film canister. 
Constant: Film canister

Hypothesis: Wll increasing the pressure inside the film canister increase the maximum height and distance obtained by film canister?

Science and the Scientific Method?


Science is a body of knowledge that is acquired through systematic observations of the natural world around us. Science is the human effort to understand, or to understand better, the history of the natural world and how the natural world works, with observable physical evidence as the basis of that understanding. It is done through observation of natural phenomena, and/or through experimentation that tries to simulate natural processes under controlled conditions. E.g.: An ecologist observing the behaviours of bluebirds, or a geologist examining a rock formation. Both scientists making observations in order to find patterns in natural phenomena. They just do it outdoors and thus entertain the general public with their behaviour  An astrophysicist photographing distant galaxies and a climatologist sifting data from weather balloons similarly are also scientists making observations, but in more discrete settings.

Science is the systematic observation of natural events and conditions in order to discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on these facts. 2. the organized body of knowledge that is derived from such observations and that can be verified or tested by further investigation. 3. any specific branch of this general body of knowledge, such as biology, physics, geology, or astronomy.
-  Academic Press Dictionary of Science & Technology

What is a scientific method?

The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.The steps of the scientific method are to:
-Ask a Question
-Do Background Research
-Construct a Hypothesis
-Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
-Analyse Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
-Communicate Your Results
It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. A "fair test" occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same.
While scientists study how nature works, engineers create new things, such as products, websites, environments, and experiences.The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Scientists use the scientific method to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.If the hypothesis is true,we have to report the results.But if it is wrong think and check if there's a mistake and try again.

What is the engineering design process?

The engineering design process is the set of steps that a designer takes to go from first, identifying a problem or need to, at the end, creating and developing a solution that solves the problem or meets the need.
The steps of the engineering design process are to:

Define the Problem
Do Background Research
Specify Requirements
Create Alternative Solutions
Choose the Best Solution
Do Development Work
Build a Prototype
Test and Redesign

During the engineering design process, designers frequently jump back and forth between steps. Going back to earlier steps is common. This way of working is called iteration, and it is likely that your process will do the same.

Differences between the scientific method and the engineering method.

In the scientific method we are supposed to test the hypothesis.In the engineering method we are supposed to build a prototype and test it.
In the scientific method we are supposed to analyze the result while in the engineering method we are supposed to test and redesign if necessary

6W1H Research Question

What will happen when I place hot water instead of cool water in the fridge and why does it freeze faster than cool water?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Hypothesis-Are There Dangerous Levels of Lead in Local Soil?

Hypothesis: If I am able to find out the lead level of the soil,I will be able to see whether the soil is normal or hazardous

Constant variable-soil
Independent variable-lead level of the soil
Dependent variable-The various levels of the lead for example normal level or the hazardous level.

Zhongzhi - Project

Taking Short Cuts: How Direct Reprogramming Can Transform One Type of Cell Straight into Another

In the first decade of the 21st century, scientists found ways to make one adult cell type turn into a completely different cell type. This has huge implications for the medical field, including being able to take some cells that a person could spare, such as skin cells or blood cells, and turn them into another cell type that might be much more important for that person to have, such as cells to make a new kidney. How are scientists able to accomplish this amazing feat of "reprogramming" the identity of human cells? What potential problems will have to be solved before this technology can be used regularly in hospitals? In this science project, you will explore how scientists use small proteins called transcription factors to turn one cell type into another and what hurdles
must be overcome to make this powerful practice more commonplace. 

Determine how transcription factors can be used to directly change one cell type into another cell type.

If I change the transcription factor, then the cell type should be changed.

Research Questions:
What is the current research with relation to the transcription factors?
What are the implications of the research on transcription factors?
How should I carry out the experiment?
Are they any tools I could use to help me with the research?

What are the possible difficulties I would face in this research and how should I overcome them?
What are the resources I need to successfully carry out the experiment?

Are There Dangerous Levels of Lead in Local Soil?

Time RequiredAverage (6-10 days)
Material AvailabilityReadily available
CostLow ($20 - $50)


The element lead is a neurotoxin that is particularly dangerous to young children. Among other uses, lead compounds were common paint additives until being phased out for safer titanium-based additives beginning in the 1960's. Lead compounds were also added to gasoline to prevent engine knocking, until being phased out beginning in the 1970's. Although paint and gasoline sold today no longer contain lead, soil can have contamination from older sources of lead, such as paint from old buildings. This project shows you how you can test soil in your neighborhood for lead contamination.


The purpose of this project is to determine whether local soil contains dangerous levels of lead. This is significant because the results will indicate where the soil is hazardous to the health of humans, especially young children.


Madeleine Disner; Jordan Liu; Sarah Stegman-Wise