Click the tabs below for Frequently Asked Questions about the National Science Experiment and the SENSg device.

About the National Science Experiment

1. What is the NSE?
The National Science Experiment (NSE) seeks to excite and interest young Singaporeans in science and technology. This large-scale national science project will bring together thousands of young Singapore students from primary schools to junior colleges to use a specially-designed low-cost, simple-to-use pocket devices, called “SENSg” and be involved in contributing and analysing data collected by the device. NSE is jointly organised by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore (NRF) and the Ministry of Education (MOE), in partnership with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the Science Centre Singapore (SCS) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). It was launched by President Tony Tan at the Global Young Scientists Summit@one north 2015 on 23 Jan 2015.

2. What is the aim and purpose of NSE?
The NSE aims to excite and interest young Singapore students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) by making it relevant to their daily lives. Through their participation, students will be able to pick up technological, engineering and information technology knowledge and skills and learn how these concepts intertwine and translate into practical and innovative ideas and solutions that drive a Smart Nation.Results from NSE will be used to derive aggregated maps of students’ activities and travel patterns or to map Singapore’s urban outdoor environment such as temperature, humidity and sound, or Wifi connectivity. These results can help government agencies in urban planning such as transportation systems and greenery of buildings. The results will also go towards ongoing research programmes such as Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge[1] and Virtual Singapore[2]. All these efforts would help to develop new technologies to support Singapore’s drive towards a Smart Nation.

3. What is the duration of NSE?
NSE will be carried out over three years from 2015 to 2017, with each year addressing different issues or challenges. NSE 2015 looked into the number of steps students take each day, how much time they spend outdoors and their travel pattern. NSE 2016 will look into the number of steps students take up the stairs, their carbon footprints from travel modes and use of air conditioning, and also provide a platform for them to blog their moods geotagged to location. We welcome suggestions for next year’s NSE!

[1] The Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge (L2NIC) seeks to leverage R&D to develop innovation technological solutions to increase Singapore’s land capacity for our long term development needs and provide options for future generations.

[1] Virtual Singapore is a dynamic 3D city model and collaborative data platform, including the 3D maps of Singapore. When completed, it will be the authoritative 3D digital platform to allow users to develop sophisticated tools and applications for test-bedding concepts and services, planning and decision-making, and research on technologies to solve emerging and complex challenges for Singapore.

Carrying out NSE 2016

Operational Schedule

1. When will NSE be carried out?
NSE will be carried out over five weeks: the weeks of 11 April, 18 April, 16 May, 11 July and 18 July. Schools can choose to take part in any of these weeks.

2. How much time will participating in NSE take?
Participating schools will use the sensors to carry out NSE for one week between April and July 2016. Each participating student will carry the device for four days (Monday to Thursday).

Logistic arrangement

1. How many SENSg devices will each school receive for the experiment session?
The allocation of SENSg devices to each school will be determined by the number of students stated in the sign-up form during registration. The SENSg devices have to be returned to Science Centre Singapore after the end of NSE.

2. How will the SENSg devices be distributed to the participating schools?
The SENSg devices will be packed by schools and delivered to the teacher-in-charge.

3. Can I confirm the number of students taking part in the NSE after the deadline, as consent forms have just been given out to students?
As we need time to pack the SENSg devices for participating schools, we will need your school’s response by the following deadlines:

Session     Deadline for registration
11 – 14 Apr 2016     25 Mar 2016
18 – 21 Apr 2016     25 Mar 2016
16 – 19 May 2016     22 Apr 2016
11 – 14 Jul 2016     27 May 2016
18 – 21 Jul 2016     27 May 2016


4. Can I change the number of participating students after returning the registration form? 

The SENSg devices have been packed for your school, based on the number submitted when submitting the registration form. You can distribute the remaining SENSg devices to other students to take part in the NSE, or you can leave them in their boxes. Singapore Post will collect all the devices the following Tuesday. We will also send an email containing the admin instructions for returning the devices.

5. Do I need to collect both consent and assent forms from the students and parents?
Yes, both consent and assent forms have to be collected.

6. As primary and secondary students from my school will be involved in the NSE, how many SENSg devices will be sent to my school?
We will send the number of SENSg devices indicated in the registration form (with buffer for faulty devices) for the primary and secondary students. After the secondary students have completed the NSE, we will collect all the devices back. Another batch of SENSg devices will be sent to your school for the primary students.

7. Some of our teachers are also interested to take part in the NSE. Can we request for extra SENSg devices for the teachers?
We welcome teachers to participate in the NSE. Please include the number of teachers in the registration form. However, the SENSg devices are packed for your school, based on the number submitted when submitting the registration form. If teachers were not included in the registration form, we are unable to provide extra SENSg devices.

8. Do teachers need to register for an NSE account?
Teachers do not need to register for an NSE account. Our administrators will set up an account, using the coordinating teachers’ email as the login ID. Please approach the coordinating teacher for the login credentials.

9. The NSE website loads very slowly on my laptop.
The NSE website could be blocked by your school’s firewall. You may wish to try accessing the NSE website using your personal laptop or computer.

Student and School Participation

Benefits of NSE to the school curriculum

1. How will the NSE supplement the curriculum at primary, secondary and JC levels?
The experiment will link science, technology, engineering and mathematical concepts learnt in the classroom to real-world application. Teaching resources will be provided to teachers to enable them to explain the science behind the collection of data and the innovative functionalities of the SENSg devices. After the end of NSE, schools will be given up to 50 devices to carry out experiments, with the aid of supplementary lesson plans and tools developed by Science Centre Singapore. These enrichment resources for school-level experiments, which will be made available on this web portal, are designed to tie in closely with the school science curriculum at each level.

2. Will the NSE affect curriculum time?
There is no significant impact. Teachers are encouraged to make use of the information gathered from NSE to relate to relevant topics in the curriculum during lesson time.

Schools’ participation

1. How can schools participate in NSE?
NSE is open to all students from Primary 3 to Junior College 2. Schools participating in the National Science Experiment are to have at least 200 students involved so that meaningful data can be aggregated. However, only schools with over 400 students participating in NSE 2015 received up to 50 SENSg devices to carry out school-level experiments at the end of NSE. Data collected by students during the NSE 2015 period was also provided to these schools for their own analysis.

2. Will teachers have access to each school’s collected data after the NSE period?
During the NSE period, teachers can log in to the portal to view the schools’ aggregated and anonymous data. There are plans to conduct a data challenge competition where the data collected will be provided for the participating schools to analyse. More details will be provided at the second half of the year.

Role of schools, teachers and students during NSE

1. What is the role of schools during NSE?
Schools are requested to keep count of the allocated SENSg devices, and ensure that they are returned in good condition for use by the next phase of the experiment.

2. What is the role of teachers during NSE?
Teachers will assign the devices to the students by tagging a SENSg device’s ID to a student. Teachers can log in to the web portal to view the schools’ anonymous, aggregated results presented as a class, guide students on the use of the devices, and facilitate their learning through the use of the device.

3. What is the role of students during NSE?
Students will carry the SENSg devices using lanyards for four days. As they go about their daily activities, ambient data such as temperature, humidity and light will be recorded by the SENSg device and transmitted to the SENSg portal. Students need not configure the device, nor perform manual sampling or uploading of data. However, students can configure their mobile phones to connect to the SENSg device to upload the data. The students will be able to log in the web portal to use tools to analyse their own data obtained from participation in the NSE.

Privacy and security

1. How will students’ personal information be safeguarded?
Personal activity information for participants will not be identifiable from the large set collected during the National Science Experiment. Anonymity is achieved by decoupling the personal information of the student and the data collected by them. Students are not required to submit their personal information on the NSE portal in order to access the data collected. Instead they will use the SENSg device ID and a password (that is tagged to the device rather than the individual) to view and analyse their data.

2. Will the consent of students and parents be sought?
Yes, students can participate in the NSE when they and their parents have signed an assent and a consent form respectively. Participation is voluntary and students can withdraw from the experiment at any time by informing the principal investigator (through the school coordinator) without any penalty. Students will have to sign two consent forms. The first is for consent to participate in the study, and will be issued before the start of the experiment. The second is for consent to use the data gathered, and will be as part of the handover process of sensors to students.

3. Does the SENSg device record audio and conservations?
No, the SENSg device will not record audio or conversations, whether at home or in school. It can only measure the environment’s noise level in decibels.

SENSg Device

About the SENSg devices
1. How does the SENSg device work?

The SENSg device is a passive recording device that captures all data automatically. The students only need to turn on the device and keep the device with them as they go about their daily activities.

2. What kind of data will the SENSg devices collect?

The SENSg device will collect data such as the number of steps taken, the students’ geographic location, as well as environmental data such as pressure, temperature, humidity and Wi-Fi strength.

Uploading of data

1. Will the school Wi-Fi be able to cope with the amount of data transmitted for the NSE?

Yes. The SENSg device logs in to the school Wi-Fi automatically to transmit small packets of data. It logs out immediately to prevent hogging of the school network.

2. When students are outside the range of the school Wi-Fi, do they need to use their own mobile phone’s 3G/4G data plan to transmit data from the SENSg device?

No. Students are not expected to tether the SENSg device to their mobile phone or use their own home Wi-Fi network for transmission of data. The SENSg device is capable of storing data locally and will transmit again once it is within range of the school Wi-Fi or other networks made available for the NSE by IDA.

If students want their data to be transmitted to the server every 15 minutes, they can tether the SENSg device to their mobile phone or home Wi-Fi network. Teachers should advise students that doing so will incur charges from the network provider.

Cost and care of SENSg device

1. Is there any cost incurred for schools to take part in NSE?
No. Schools do not need to pay for the SENSg device. The device will be on loan from the NSE organisers for the duration that schools are involved in NSE. At the end of NSE 2015, schools were given up to 50 devices to carry out experiments, with the aid of supplementary lesson sources and tools developed by Science Centre Singapore. The allocated quantity was offset by losses and damage during the NSE 2015 period.

2. What if students lose or damage the SENSg device?
As schools were given up to 50 devices to carry out experiments after the end of NSE, the allocated quantity was offset by losses and damage during the NSE 2015 period.

3. Is the device shock or waterproof? Under which conditions (e.g. during PE lessons or bathing) should the students not carry the devices?
As the SENSg devices are sensitive measuring devices, impact or exposure to water should be avoided, just like a mobile phone. Students should carry the device using the provided lanyard during the NSE period. Students should avoid wearing it when participating in activities such as physical education classes and swimming, or taking it into the bathroom when showering.

4. What should I do if my SENSg device’s blue light stays on and does not blink (like it normally does)?
Please reset your SENSg device by switching it off and on again. Use a pen or pencil to carefully toggle the on/off switch found at the bottom of the SENSg device, next to the micro-USB port used for charging.

5. What should I do if the LED light on my SENSg device blinks red?
If the LED light blinks red, this means your SENSg device’s battery is low. You can charge the SENSg device using the provided micro-USB cable.

6. How do I charge the SENSg device?
The devices may be charged from a standard micro-USB cable plugged into your computer or into the wall. They accept 5V and draw no more than 500 mA, just as standard mobile phone chargers supply.

Safety and precautions when wearing the SENSg devices

1. Do students have to carry the SENSg devices all the time?
Although students are encouraged to carry the SENSg device as much as possible, safety is of top priority. If there is any risk of injury to students or risk of damaging the device, the students should take off the SENSg device.

2. Do students have to carry the SENSg devices when sleeping?
No, students are not required to carry it to bed. Students can put it by their bedside and carry it again when they get out of bed.

3. Is carrying the SENSg devices for extended periods of time harmful?
No, carrying the SENSg device is not any more harmful than bringing a mobile phone around. The components of the device include passive sensors that do not emit any harmful radiation, a Wi-Fi sensor with similar specifications as those in the market, and a lithium battery similar to those in mobile phones.

Click here for more information about the SENSg device and what it can do.