WHEN Fuhua Primary School decided to paint a piano on the floor of the canteen, it was supposed to be a simple decoration to mark the musical corner.
But several Primary Five pupils decided to turn the painting into a real-life piano, with the help of technology. The 11-year-olds - Avanie Aniruddha Joshi, Clarence Choong, Vanessa Yu, P G Rahul Nivash and Lee Jo Yee - worked together over five months, guided by teachers and the school's head of IT, Ho Kok Soon.
"The school has a musical corner and there are a lot of facilities for the students to use," says Avanie. "However, they find it boring . . . so we decided to install actual piano keys above the painted piano keys."
The students used a technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology called Makey Makey. It uses alligator clips and a circuit board to turn anything into a keypad, from staircases to bananas.
In this case, the Makey Makey was applied to the painting so that the keys turned into actual piano keys that could play proper notes.
Mr Ho says the students did the research and came up with the idea themselves. The Makey Makey kit was funded by the school.
The pupils' curiosity and appetite for experimentation earned them the gold award in the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation's Best Innovative ICM Student Project (Primary) category.
"Yes, it was fun as we had never done anything like this before," says Avanie. "It is also interesting to play with the piano after it was completed and it gave us a great sense of achievement. Other students found it fun and meaningful, too."
Wellington Primary School nabbed silver in the same category for an ambitious project to teach coding to its students.
The pupils use sensors, computers and free software to create programs that help solve everyday problems, says the school's head of infocomm and technology, Roslee Jalie.
One example was a project to deal with the high levels of noise in the canteen, which forced teachers to raise their voices to make themselves heard above the din.
A team of pupils used sensors to detect the noise level and if it went above a certain point, the computer would send out an alert through a projector which would turn from green to red, signalling that pupils should lower their voices.
"With the knowledge of how to code and with the right tools, our students become more than mere observers. They become empowered and actual participants in helping to solve problems," says Mr Roslee.