Every week, Junior School students with a passion for all things Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths put their minds to the test at STEaMologists Club.
Throughout the year, students in Years 4 to 6 plan, design, research and create innovative inventions to solve real-world problems.
In this week’s ‘Spotlight on STEaM’, we take a look at Year 5 students Isabelle and Nina who have been hard at work on their project, the First Response Extinguishing Drone – or as it’s more commonly known, FRED.
Using a Tello Drone and 3D printing technology, FRED has been designed to carry Elide Fire Balls to help fire fighters extinguish blazes from the sky during high-risk bushfire seasons.
FRED will also be fitted with a siren, 360-degree cameras, heat sensors and satellite connections.
Nina said this would help FRED patrol in partnership with nearby satellites.
“When there is a bushfire, the satellite will send FRED the GPS coordinates and send a signal to the fire brigade, so they can see what FRED is doing and if they need to assist with more FREDs,” she said.
“If it’s not a high-risk bushfire season, FRED will be charging at the nearest fire station and the satellite will be waiting for a bushfire to give FRED the GPS coordinates again.”
Nina said her inspiration for the invention came after a close call with a bushfire during a family holiday earlier this year.
“We have a beach house in Guilderton and there were bushfires really close to us – so close we could see the smoke and we had to evacuate,” she said.
“Me and my papai were talking in the car and thinking of ideas to help stop these terrible bushfires because it was really sad.
“Our environment is changing – not only are people chopping down trees, so animals are losing their homes and lives from deforestation, but also from bushfires. So, I invited Izzy to help me with my idea.”
Isabelle said she was keen to get involved and help resolve an issue that devastates Australia every summer.
“Nina has done STEaMologists Club for the last few years and she’s done projects that matter to her personally on recycling and dementia, but this was my first time doing it,” she said.
“Our animals are losing their lives, people are losing their lives and homes and our environment is being damaged because of bushfires so it’s really important.”
Guided by their mentor, Nina’s papai Markos, the pair has battled through many failures to create a strong but light drone suited to their needs.
“At first he wouldn’t fly so we made the cannisters lighter and smaller and put one on each leg, but he still wouldn’t take off,” Isabelle said.
“Then we tried to put one right in the centre and he would take off, but it was hard for him to land because he wasn’t balanced so he would keep falling forwards or backwards.
“Now we’ve made little landing legs for him on our fourth attempt.”
Nina added her papai had helped them through the many challenges they have come across.
“He has lots of ideas so if something fails, he’s always thinking of solutions and he is always telling us to ‘keep going’, encouraging us,” she said.
Even after a long day at school, the girls say they “love” going to STEaMologists Club to keep working away on FRED.
“Sometimes we’ll eat snacks and chill and just do a few things and then other times we’ll try and do everything,” Isabelle said.
“If we have a new idea or we’re excited about something, we just want to get here and get it done,” Nina added.
Isabelle and Nina have submitted their entry for the Australian STEaM competition and are hoping to make the national finals.