Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Our Team

(From left) Jia En, Dr Linda Sellou, Chelsea, Claire, Jie Yi
Our members are:
  • Chelsea (S207) - Leader
  • Jia En (S207)
  • Jie Yi (S206)
  • Claire (S209)

Our project supervisors are:
  • Mr Edwin Lim & Mr Kenny Teoh (SST teachers)
  • Asst Pro Sum Tze Chien & Dr Ho Shen (The Fastest Ball Challenge)
  • Dr Linda Sellou (Extraction of Caffeine from Beverages & Molecular Gastronomy)


The Fastest Ball Challenge

This project is a challenge which the objective is to determine the angle of inclination so that the ball bearing would travel the quickest across the horizontal track.

The theoretical background is about the conservation of energy principle. The principle is supposed to be used to solve the challenge. 
One way to state this principle is "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed". Another approach is to say that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant.

Extraction of Caffeine from Beverages

This project is to extract caffeine from tea. The objectives of this project is to let us experience and learn about Buchner filtration, solvent extraction, and distillation using a rotary evaporator. Buchner filtration is about using a suction to help in normal filtration. Solvent extraction is about 2 layers of solvents and the solubility of organic compounds in these solvents. The rotary evaporator is used to evaporate the solvent that the chemical compound of interest is solubilized in.

Solvent extraction
Buchner filtration


The Fastest Ball Challenge
By the end of this project, we have to find out the angle of inclination with our experiment, that allows the ball to travel the fastest along the horizontal track.
If we find out that our results came out around the same as the ones that the professor collected, the project has been successful.

Extraction of Caffeine from Beverages
By the end of this project, we have to extract the caffeine from the tea.
If we extract the caffeine from the tea and learn about the 3 techniques, Buchner filtration, solvent extraction and using the rotary evaporator, we can say the project is successful.

Our Achievements

The Fastest Ball Challenge

The ramp

First photogate

Second photogate and wooden block

Ramp with sunflower oil (background) used

Knob to adjust angle of ramp

Extraction of Caffeine from Beverages

Goggles that we used

Basket of equipments that we were provided

Lipton tea bags used

Buchner filtration

Bringing down the temperature of the extracted tea in the CHEMISTRY way (ice bath)

Pouring the tea into a separating funnel

Letting the mixture rest after shaking

Transferring caffeine dissolved in dcm into the round-bottom flask

Using the rotary evaporator to get caffeine

Presentation slides



  • What did you achieve by completing this project? When answering this question, consider both personal and academic development.
    • (CHEMISTRY) We learnt the chemists' way of performing certain procedures. For example, if one were to try and cool down a mixture to room temperature, the normal method to do so would be to place ice inside the solution but a chemist places the container of solution inside a basin of ice - 2 different methods entirely but both yield the same results. In addition to broadening our mindsets and opening our eyes to the various means of accomplishing a given task, the project enabled us to gain valuable knowledge in the field of DNA structures and graph reading. We learnt to identify peaks in the graphs to ascertain the chemicals present in our extracts.
    • (PHYSICS) We learnt the important lesson of not assuming things based on previous knowledge. For example, in our research, we found that oil, instead of acting as a lubricant, hinders the movement of the metal ball bearing as it rolls down the ramp. Although it baffled us, other groups have also collected data that proves this theory. This caused us to believe that certain oils contain compounds that makes it sticky and not slippery like we commonly believe. 
  • Describe how the design of your experiment or the design of your product allowed you to achieve the projects desired outcomes.
    • Not Applicable.
  • Identify possible limitations (restrictions) to your project. When answering this question, consider the design of your experiment or the design of your product.
    • Not Applicable.
  • Suggest possible improvements that could be made in order to minimize the limitations that you have identified.
    • Not Applicable.
(to be edited)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Discussion Questions from your Mentor

The Fastest Ball Challenge

1. What is the angle of inclination that gives the shortest travel time in Challenge 1 and 2? From our experiment, our group has gotten 30 degrees for Challenge 1 and 27 degrees for Challenge 2. However, the professor in charge of the experiment has collected his results and they are 32 degrees. So, our results are incorrect.

2. What precautions have you taken in order to ensure consistency of your results? We ensured that we put our photogates at the same place throughout the whole experiment and that the ball is released from the same height in the same way.

Extraction of Caffeine from Beverages

1. Now you have extracted caffeine what techniques can you use to characterize your compound and make sure you have caffeine? By using the infrared machine, we can check the different points of our compound and make sure that the points of caffeine are in our compound. This allows us to make sure that we have caffeine.

2. How would you prepare decaffeinated coffee that is fit to drink?  By using water processing, this process employs water as the solvent to remove caffeine from the coffee beans. Typically a battery extraction process using eight to 12 vessels is employed; each vessel contains coffee at a different stage of decaffeination.