In­ge­nious stu­dents de­sign life­sav­ing bed

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - By HONG VAN

EV­ERY year Viet­namese cit­i­zens in the cen­tral parts of the coun­try suf­fer the ef­fects of se­vere flood­ing. A pair of stu­dents think they have a so­lu­tion.

The cen­tral re­gion of Viet­nam is fre­quently hit by nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, es­pe­cially se­vere flood­ing. Ev­ery year, dur­ing the rainy sea­son, which is from May to Novem­ber, the me­dia broad­casts heart­break­ing images of peo­ple strug­gling to sur­vive the high waters that sweep away prop­erty and liveli­hoods.

Deeply touched by the losses, two high school stu­dents from the north­ern prov­ince of Hung Yen put their heads to­gether and came up with a spe­cial bed, able to keep peo­ple afloat on wa­ter.

Luyen Huy Long, a 10th grader, and Tran Quang Thai, an 11th grader, from Hung Yen Spe­cialised High School, won third prize at the Na­tional Tech­ni­cal and Sci­ence Com­pe­ti­tion in March this year for their “life­sav­ing” bed.

“When I saw floods hit­ting the cen­tral re­gion in 2016 on tele­vi­sion and read about it on­line, I felt very up­set. The haunt­ing images of four kids stranded on bits of de­bris, and el­derly peo­ple wait­ing for res­cue on their bed, prompted me to do some­thing to help in these dis­as­ters.

“Given that a per­son spends one third of their life in bed, I came up with the idea of mak­ing one out of sty­ro­foam so it could float on top of the flood,” said Long.

When the an­nual sci­ence com­pe­ti­tion was an­nounced, Long reg­is­tered and was paired with Thai; they share a com­mon in­ter­est in sci­ence and engi­neer­ing.

It took four months for the two stu­dents to trans­late their idea into a fi­nal prod­uct, a float­ing bed that could carry up to 945kg of weight.

“The most dif­fi­cult part was in­cor­po­rat­ing all of our ideas into the de­sign. Al­most ev­ery day, we would meet up after school, spend­ing hours dis­cussing the project,” said Long.

“The prod­uct is very sim­ple. It is lit­er­ally a com­bi­na­tion of a bed and sponge to keep it afloat. It is not highly tech­ni­cal, but the idea by the two stu­dents is highly hu­man­i­tar­ian,” physics teacher Nguyen Vu Anh Tuyet said.

Tuyet pro­vided some tech­ni­cal sup­port to the en­ter­pris­ing young­sters.

With the univer­sal physics pro­gramme, stu­dents are equipped with a large amount of knowl­edge, for ex­am­ple from Archimedes’ prin­ci­ples of buoy­ancy, with which stu­dents can eas­ily cal­cu­late the weight ca­pac­ity of an ob­ject over a sur­face of wa­ter, said Tuyet.

“We closely ex­am­ined the bal­ance of the bed, be­cause in cases of flood­ing or heavy rain, high winds may make the bed un­sta­ble. The bal­ance has to take this into ac­count and be safe for users,” said Tuyet.

The bed, which can carry be­tween five and nine peo­ple at a time, is 2.1 me­tres long, 1.2 me­tres wide and about 40cm high. It floats thanks to four sty­ro­foam lay­ers. In emer­gen­cies, one can tie the bed to a tree so it isn’t swept away, said Thai.

Long said the idea of mak­ing a life raft is not new, but in­cor­po­rat­ing this with a bed means that ev­ery fam­ily can have one ready in their home. It can be changed and mod­i­fied to be­come a life­sav­ing item with cheap and eas­ily found ma­te­ri­als like sponge and plas­tic bot­tles.

“The prod­uct (Long’s life­sav­ing bed) is highly ap­pli­ca­ble in real life. Peo­ple in re­gions that are prone to flood­ing can buy or make float­ing beds from sim­ple ma­te­ri­als in their daily life. The Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy will help to reg­is­ter brand pro­tec­tion for this prod­uct,” the news­pa­per quoted Di­rec­tor of Hung Yen’s Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, Ngo Xuan Thai, as say­ing,

In the flood­ing sea­son, the bed can be at­tached to other sin­gle beds with joints to form a big panel that can keep peo­ple afloat, said Long.

“Plas­tics may not be cheaper than wood, so we tried wood to start with and are think­ing of seek­ing other ma­te­ri­als that could be cheaper. Mean­while, wood is also safe and pop­u­lar with lo­cal peo­ple,” said Thai.

As the in­ge­nious life­sav­ing raft can be made from an ex­ist­ing bed, the to­tal cost falls to just VND1.5 mil­lion (US$66 or RM282), said Thai.

“The project was not easy. Dur­ing our ini­tial test­ing we had to stand on the bed and float on cold wa­ter in win­ter.

“We wanted to make sure it would sur­vive in harsh con­di­tions. So we had to make up­grades for un­ex­pected fac­tors, like strong winds or wa­ter cur­rents,” said Long.

Long said he would add four an­chors to each cor­ner of the bed to make it more sta­ble for users. – Viet Nam News/ANN


High school stu­dents from the north­ern prov­ince of Hung Yen in­vented a spe­cial bed that is able to keep peo­ple afloat on wa­ter.

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