The first sweeping and vacuuming machine has been innovated by a group of 15 students, with the aim of tackling garbage and dust issues by using robotic skills to help facilitate the way roads are cleaned saving time.
It is the fruitful result of a six-month STEM training program focusing on robotics by integrating theory and practicing learning. By having the trainer help educate and with support from Hun Sen Serey Pheap High School’s director and other teachers, within three months the group of students transformed their design thinking into reality after hearing environmental issues that students encountered.
Since observing the trash and dust, matters are affecting the body and health such as eyes and respiratory tract. As the dust in the city contains more pollutants and chemistry than dust in rural areas.
In order to produce the machine, students had to divide the tasks and be responsible for following working processes, including design, components, and the shape and color of the lamp.
Thorn Sreynich, 16, a grade 11E student at the Ta Khmau city school, loves technological subjects such as mathematics. As one of the female representatives of students and founders of EMC1, Sreynich told Kiripost on Thursday inside the school area that the sweeping and vacuuming machine is the initiative of 15 students studying the short robotics course.
The idea was first sparked when the trainer asked them to solve social and environmental problems using the STEM knowledge and skills that they learned during the course to create something to tackle these issues.
“We decided to establish it because we know that there are students who are sweeping the dirt, and if we talk about dust we can not sweep it well. So, we had an idea to create a sweeping machine for sweeping in school while the school has construction inside now,” Sreynich said.
This machine uses two 12-volt batteries with 90 Ah (Ampere hours), and uses an inverter chip to convert the battery energy to 70 volts to run the machine.
The ECO Cleaning Machine, version 1 (ECM1) is 82 centimeters in width,183 centimeters long with 85 centimeters high. This machine can run 6km/hour and has the ability to sweep 5,000 square meters per hour.
“For the color, we decided to choose green to represent the environment and nature. Moreover, our school also chose green to represent it as well. So, it represents both school and the environment,” Sreynich said.
“We need to spend more time finding a lot of materials, including some new materials, we have to innovate more. For example, we got the metal from a used car to make it stay strong. For sweeping, we bought it and worked as a team to put it together. And we got the batteries from an abandoned battery car. For the seat and foot mat pedal, we also got them from obsolete items and reinvented them again,” she said.
The challenges she discovered during the production process was related to technical aspects and how accurate it is when assembling the tools together.
Sreynich added, “Before equipping any machine, we have to think critically in order to ensure that those machines are compatible or not. The dust is flying around us every time and it causes a lot of diseases, such as allergies, acne, and skin irritation,” Sreynich mentioned. She added, “The trash we can see with our eyes instead of dust is extremely tiny, so it can get into our noise via the respiratory tract and affect our breathing.”
This 16-year-old believes that this new innovative sweeping machine designed and produced by her team will help elevate street sweeping to the next level of convenience and hygiene.
“As we notice nowadays there are sweeping companies sweeping along the roads, but they are old people. They have to hold one sweeper and it is difficult for them. Despite that, if they have this machine to ride on and drive it while it vacuums,” she said.
Sreypich is enthusiastic and optimistic about EMC1’s potential and believes it will be part of the social and environmental impact in the future. Her team also hopes to develop more functions with another version in the future.
Mean Menghong, 16, currently a Grade 11 student at Hun Sen Serey Pheap High School, is a fan of Maths and Physics. He said the initiative to create the cleaning machine was inspired by a problem that the school and students encounter inside the school yard, dust caused by additional construction activities.
“Since our school starts to have more construction, the dust and trash also increases. This caused us to have a discussion and together we want to create this machine for cleaning our school yard better,” he told Kiripost during his school break.
The machine uses electricity and avoids using mechanical energy to decrease the noise while it is working.
He said this machine function enables usage on any road conditions, even in highland areas, flat lands and other road conditions, as it has strong power. And version one of the eco-cleaning machine has speed limitation functions that allow the machine to drive faster or slower.
“Our team would like to drive it slowly because we want to make sure our machine can sweep the dust from road cleaner and if we go with higher speed it cannot clean well,” he said.
Menghong added, “That’s why our team decided to cut down some functions of the machine's speed to be slower and more silent since it is a cleaning machine and not for transportation purposes.”
The charging holes are divided into two sections. One is a battery to make the machine move and another battery operates to provide energy for the sweeping and vacuuming functions. Charging batteries takes between 2.5 to three hours.
“If we use the maximum speed of the machine, we can use it for one hour. But if the user uses between 3 km/hour or 2 km/hour it can be used to sweep the dust for a whole day,” he said. “We work on making the machine whenever we have free time so it doesn’t affect the other studying hours.”
Since the total 15 members in the group are from various classes and have different study schedules, they hold a weekly group discussion, usually at the weekend. This is a combination of virtual and physical meetings as the project started during Covid-19.
As a team leader, Menghong saw the challenges along the way of establishing the vacuuming and sweeping machine for the first time, such as dealing with design ideas, finding raw materials by using used materials they found in the fields, recycled and combined them with new materials before creating the innovative vacuuming and sweeping machine with a creative design and affordable price.
“For the challenges of inventing this machine, we don’t have all the tools and raw materials, we have to innovate it by ourselves and try to find it or order it. For some parts of the machine, we can buy chips to install and other parts we have to plug the sweep broom together. In addition, we also need to find more used things to recycle because recycling from old materials is better than buying new materials at expensive prices,” Menghong said.
He believes that producing new innovative machines from used materials is less expensive while saving the environment. He added, “This also helps society because we can cut down the expenditure and the cost of producing this machine is cheaper. So, if in the forthcoming days there are ministries or institutions in need of it, they can order at an affordable price rather than the new materials, so we can help the locals too.”
The eco-cleaning machine or EMC1 costs $1,361 and has the ability to support weights of about 200 kilograms, or two big people.
Side Effects of Dust
Menghong perceived that dust in the city is increasing significantly and is affecting citizens’ health with daily life pollution. However, he is hoping this innovative sweeping and vacuuming machine will help solve the issue.
“Typically, there is a lot of trash in our country. Furthermore, the dust in rural areas and cities keep increasing significantly due to our country developing. Therefore, we have to use land to construct buildings and deliver it along public roads, and it drops along the road causing dust to float in the air and go into the population's houses. So, using this machine for cleaning the yard enables citizens to live healthily and avoid health issues,” he mentioned.
According to the fact sheet “Dust and Your Health” publication from the government of South Australia (SA Health), dust may contain microscopic solid or liquid droplets that are small enough to get into the lungs and cause serious health issues, such as heart disease. Large particles will irritate the nose, throat and eyes.
Thul Chanthorn, currently a Math teacher at Hun Sen Se Ri Pheap Highschool and a trainer in the STEM program, said the six-month training course consists of both theory and practical learning, aims to enhance critical thinking based on STEM subjects and encourage more innovative solutions by using robotic skills.
“This work is the robotic one and we motivate students to have more creative ideas to create tools that will help serve their livelihood or solve society matters,” he said.
Robotics involves coding, integration of electronics, system operations, learning of censors, motors in order to establish a beneficial machine that can serve the advantages for society, he added.