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HKU using STEM to educate engages about light pollution effects

Image Credits: HKU, Press Release

In a crowded metropolis like Hong Kong, light pollution is a severe environmental problem. Hence, HKU researchers organised the Dark-sky-friendly Lighting Fixture STEM Competition to raise public awareness of the severe light pollution problem in Hong Kong.

In addition to conducting light pollution research, students and teachers encouraged to show how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) knowledge can be applied to reduce the adverse effects of light pollution. The winning team members also presented their entries in person to the public during the HK SciFest 2019.

Throughout the competition, students worked on outdoor lighting fixture products aimed at minimising or reducing the impacts of light pollution using STEM knowledge.

The winning entry came from Fanling Kau Yan College titled “Smart Sensing Lamps Array with progressive intensity change.

The team visited Sheung Shui Wai and learnt how residents there suffered from light trespassing that originated from lamp posts. By applying multiple technologies such as 3D printing, programmable microcontrollers, displacement and ultrasound sensors, the students created a smart sensing street lamp array with adjustable light intensity based on the flow of pedestrian traffic, thus leading to a reduction in the intensity and the number of lighting fixtures required.

One of the judges of the event stated that the work presented by the students was of very high quality, in addition to their enthusiasm for science and their strong dedication for environmental conservation.

The Founder and Executive Director of The Green Earth remarked that the participating students are aware of light pollution and came up with simple ideas and innovative solutions to reduce such problems.

Some of their ideas, if implemented, would be far more effective than simply relying on the government’s Charter on External Lighting alone.

Winning entries of the Competition were showcased at an event organised by the Hong Kong Science Museum between. It showcased STEM project outcomes.

Students and teachers introduced their winning entries and promoted light pollution reduction in person to thousands of members of the public, fully achieving the aim of knowledge exchange.

Furthermore, light pollution research conducted by the Hong Kong Light Pollution Research Project Team of the HKU Department of Physics was also highlighted.

One student noted that joining this competition encouraged them to wonder why there are so many lamp poles which generate severe light pollution all around Hong Kong. Inspired by this, the team decided to design their lighting fixture to enter the competition. Through numerous revisions of the design and modifications of the competition entry model, and practising our presentation, we are excited about winning the competition.

A student from one of the winning teams noted that they feel fortunate to have a first-hand experience to present their winning entry to the general public during HK SciFest 2019. During this time, they talked to a wide segment of the public and listened to their opinions.

Many members of the public want to learn more about the STEM knowledge applied behind the work. People want science and technology knowledge to improve and bring more convenience to their daily lives.

In addition, using STEM knowledge to solve practical daily problems effectively, the students displayed excellent teamwork, effectively dividing the tasks and actively collaborating with each other.

The students were given the opportunity to present their work to the general public of different age groups and in different languages, during HK SciFest 2019 enabled them to learn to listen to questions and suggestions from the public in a humble manner. Through this experience, the students gained a better understanding of the light pollution problem in Hong Kong and will continue to contribute to society by improving the environment.

The plan is to meet with relevant government departments so that the students can introduce their works to professionals and get their opinions in order to design smart lighting devices that are more effective in reducing light

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