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Archive for October, 2008

In a attempt to attest to the fact that soap-making is not a complex procedure which can only be done in the lab, and and that it can be easily carried out at home, Gloria, Yu-Jia and Yujin headed to Yujin’s house today to try out soap-making, and at the same time teach Yujin’s mother how to make soap as part of our efforts to ‘reach out to as many homemakers as possible’. This experience proved to be an interesting one – we faced slight challenges since we didn’t have the usual lab apparatus which made soap-making much more convenient and which we relied on with us, but this also made us better understand the obstacles most homemakers would face should they attempt soap-making at home. Nevertheless, we made do with alternatives – for instance, we substituted a measuring cylinder with…

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A medicine bottle...a medicine bottle! (the kind with demarcations on it so that we could measure out the water) We were also forced to abandon our perfectionist instincts since the markings on the bottle only allowed us to measure the water up to 60ml and not our usual, more accurate 60.6ml.Making use of recycled ice-cream tubs as basins for the water baths

Despite her initial reluctance to be photographed/filmed, Yujin’s mother was (thankfully) very supportive about everything! (: We’re really grateful to her for being so enthusiastic, rummaging through all the forgotten apparatus left at the back of our kitchen cupboard just to find the most appropriate ‘measuring cylinder’, monitoring the temperatures of the oil/sodium hydroxide mixture for us, running back and forth to replenish the water baths, helping us cut and blend the fragrance etc. Below are some pictures of my mum making soap –

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Stirring the sodium hydroxide solution

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Taking the oil out of its water bath

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Preparing the fragrances

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Stirring the mixture

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The final result!

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After doing so much research and experiments done to make our soap, many of you must be wondering, do they even use their own soap? Here is evidence that our soap IS being used. We’re helping RGS to save some money by washing up the apparatus used for our experiments with OUR own soap! 🙂 (P.S. It lathers really well!)
Using our soap to wash a container

Using our soap to wash a container

Using our soap to wash a beaker

Using our soap to wash a beaker

Using our soap to wash a bucket

Using our soap to wash a bucket

It isn’t only us who uses our soap! At the workshop with NUS rotaract club, some members also used our soap to wash up the apparatus!

Project BARAY members using our soap

Project BARAY members using our soap.

Washing up has never been so fun!

Washing up has never been so fun!

Vincent says it feels like normal soap!

Vincent says it feels like normal soap!

3 members who used our soap and the sparkling clean beaker!

3 members who used our soap and the sparkling clean beaker!

We have even gotten our parents to use our soap! Yujia’s father also says it feels just like normal soap!

Yujia's father using our soap

Yujia's father using our soap

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Today, we conducted a soap-making workshop for the NUS Rotaract Club. (Remember them? We first met the team leader during Project Mending Sky!) The aim of their project, Project BARAY, was to provide better hygiene for the Cambodians, which include building more toilets and teaching them how to make their own soap from used cooking oil, as this cut down their expenses. We gave a short powerpoint presentation and screened our video before the start of the actual soap-making. Basically, a brief overview of our project was presented, which includes the current organisations that we are working with, accomplishments and future extensions. Vincent Lee, the team leader of Project BARAY also gave us a short powerpoint presentation on his team’s project.

Giving a powerpoint presentation

Giving a powerpoint presentation

Vincent's presentation

Vincent's presentation

Here are some photos of the event. Many experimented with various types of fragrances and colourings, which resulted in the wide array of soap designs and colors! We enjoyed ourselves tremendously- the participants were enthusiastic and exciting! The feedback from this workshop was heartening- the team was impressed with our level of preparation and Vincent told us how GREAT he thought this workshop was! 🙂

Demonstrating to Project BARAY

Demonstrating to Project BARAY

Project BARAY in action!

Project BARAY in action!

GREASE and BARAY!

GREASE and BARAY!

say GREASE!

say GREASE!

Proudly displaying end product

Proudly displaying end product

Group shot!!!

Group shot!!!

Project BARAY has indicated interest in collaborating with us further, after they come back from their trip to Cambodia from 10 Dec-30 Dec 2008, to aid us in promoting this oil-to-soap movement in Singapore as a post-trip activity. You can visit their blog at http://projectbaray08.wordpress.com We will be going down to the NUS campus on Friday, 31st Oct to support their fund raising event.

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Disclaimer: Some references made here may be incomprehensible to you, as they mostly constitute inside jokes. But read on, anyway! 😀

Since we embarked on this project in March, Project GREASE has come a looooong way, leaving a nice GREASEy trail of accomplishments (even though we’re saying so ourselves, we do take pride in our work!). Our biggest, and proudest yet, would be our recent emergence as MIDDLE DIVISION CHAMPIONS for the Australian FPS Finals in Melbourne this year!

*Project GREASE members bow demurely*

Thank you, we appreciate the polite applause. Now let us begin our extremely moving thank-you speech. While we are extremely grateful to each and every fellow teammate for channeling her heart and soul into this project – staying back late in school to ‘chiong’ CmPS every day even though the portentous EYAs were looming, postponing all post-EYA celebrations to religiously meet for hours on end to complete the scrapbook/video/display board/booth materials, burning the midnight oil, forgoing sleep altogether, or conducting impromptu sleepovers at teammates’ houses just to finish what we’d started – it must not be forgotten that there are other individuals around whose help we are, sincerely, eternally grateful for and indebted to, and without whom we would never have come this far. This post, as its category aptly suggests, honours the efforts of 3 very special teacher mentors, whereby how far we have come can be fully credited to their patience, guidance and painstaking efforts.

*Project GREASE members start sobbing into their hankies*

They are none other than –

(drumroll, please.)

1) Miss Tan Beng Chiak!!

(disclaimer: actual image of Miss Tan is currently unavailable. We apologize for the rather inaccurate representation above, but it is as close as we can get to her kindly smiling face :))

We, Project GREASE, sincerely thank Miss Tan for all her invaluable help and support in our project from the very beginning! If not for her pushing us to be more daring in our soap-making ventures, we probably would only have accomplished that much, experiment-wise; if not for her help in vetting through our proposal for the MOE cluster fund, we probably wouldn’t have succeeded in our application (little did we know, then, how essential this fund has proved to be!); if not for her linking us up with Drama Box, we probably wouldn’t have had a door opened to so many precious outreach opportunities, such as Project Mending Sky (PMS), our first major outreach to the masses.

And now, for the second Very Important Person Project GREASE has to thank!

GUESS WHO!

(match the Crocs to their owner!)

Yes, you guessed right, it is She On Your Right (and our left) –

2) Ms May Tan!!

Ahh, speak of Ms Tan, and graphic images of minced meat promptly creeps into many a GREASEy member’s mind. We highly doubt Ms Tan will ever be “kaypoh” or “wuliao” enough to google her own name (which most of us cannot say the same for ourselves :P) – not that she’ll ever be free to do so anyway – thus rendering the chances of her reading this highly unlikely. As such, we shall not “mince [our] words” when we officially thank her for what she has done for us! 😀

Despite the insurmountable mountains of work waiting for her on her desk everyday, as a dedicated teaching staff of the Chemistry Department and doubly as the ever-dutiful Research Studies HOD, Ms Tan has nevertheless gone all out to lend us invaluable tips and advice to improve our formal documents essential for the Australian Finals and, on a whole, trained us to become more efficient, effective and eloquent “thinkers, leaders and pioneeeeeers” as good ambassadors of our school. Our report, for instance, has gone under her critical eye (aptly suiting the expression “gone under the knife”!) for no less than a whopping 9 versions in a short span of 10 days! She, who self-deprecatingly self-proclaims herself to be quite the “slavedriver” and the “bad guy” all at once, have kept the report i/cs of Project GREASE on their toes (and drooping eyebags) for the last ten days before the submission of the report, tirelessly scrutinizing and dissecting version after version in search of any possible semblance of a bone of contention.

Project GREASE is extremely grateful to Ms Tan’s patience and painstaking effort to assist us in any way that it is in her power to do so, even accepting calls and flustered smses from immature, uninspiring team members at unearthly hours of the night to dish out advice about display boards (and their backsides). She has even, on one occasion one day before the official deadline, voluntarily vetted our report despite being overseas in Taipei. We have upon occasion, through our official teacher-mentor Mrs Lee (for it takes some superhuman effort to hold the former’s gaze unflinchingly for more than 5 seconds, much less pop a question hardly relevant to CmPS), not-so-seriously inquired how we can ever repay Ms Tan for her kindness and generosity, and in return, she has sort-of-seriously replied that we can mop her house every week, which, erm, we will kinda-sorta-maybe-seriously consider, and, for the time being, gladly classify under Project GREASE’s neverending to-do list of “future plans”. When we eventually figure out how to use that alkaline ball as an alternative for sodium hydroxide, Project GREASE will personally use our newly-improved soap bars to clean her floors until they are as shiny as mirrors!

And now, the Last But Not Least. Lo and behold!

Mrs Lee playing peek-a-boo. No, actually she’s just being modest.

3) Mrs Lee Lim-Chyn!!

A more flattering photo of our beloved teacher-mentor, with fellow CmPS coach Ms Mariette Ong on her left

Project GREASE thanks Mrs Lee for being the best teacher-mentor ever! (: We sincerely, from the very bottom of our hearts right down to our stomachs, thank her for the sheer amount of time and effort channelled into not only making this project a better one, but also nurturing us wholistically to be better people. Despite her alarming workload as a teacher from the Biology department, as well as the dedicated Head of Department for Admission, she has nonetheless been the ever-patient, ever-efficient and ever-responsible teacher mentor, ever-ready to dish out insightful advice and share with us interesting anecdotes and experiences to lighten the atmosphere. One such fondly-recollected moment would be the 2 priceless hours before the interview during the Australian FPS Finals, whereby instead of fervently preparing for what was to come, we were instead sitting around in a circle on the vast, green fields, listening voraciously to Mrs Lee sharing her previous experiences as a teacher in Jintai secondary where she, left-brainer and all, actually taught English Literature! :O

Project GREASE and Mrs Lee basking in the sun moments before interview

Project GREASE has learnt much from Mrs Lee throughout the course of this project, and are especially impressed by her admirable project management skills – her artistic inclinations (“It’s suuuuuuper ugly!”), her practicality (“One teabag for THREE people?!”) and her insightfulness (“You’d better give me the first cup!”) in guiding us, even though it is her first year leading a CmPS group. More than that, we are extremely appreciative of her commitment to this project as our official teacher-mentor, and are sincerely grateful for all the time and effort she has channelled into making this project, and its members, a better ones.

We, Project GREASE, fully acknowledge that we are, on a whole, not an easy team to manage, given the demanding nature of our project and our team’s sometimes over-conscientiousness, over-ambition and even obsessive-compulsive tendencies. We are extremely grateful to Mrs Lee for not only steering us in the right direction in times of doubt, but also particularly for being caring enough, as a person, to seriously point out certain flaws and straighten out certain issues or obstacles that we irrevocably had to face along the tumultuous course of our GREASEy ventures. There are times where we have unintentionally rendered her “heartborken” (spelling error intended) from the immature nature of the errors we have made, but she has forgiven us time and again, and for this we are extremely grateful.

If asked about our teacher-mentor, members of Project GREASE will affectionately describe her as one of a thoughtful, peaceful disposition who has never liked the idea of “competiting” with others, preferring to learn from opponents than see them as official competitors. We are, above all, extremely grateful to her support and genuine concern for, not just the project itself, but each and every individual that makes up Project GREASE.

(:

Project GREASE is extremely lucky to have the help and support (such mundane words cannot truly convey the extent of our gratitude, but we are so awed by their contributions that we are at a loss for better vocabulary) these 3 wonderful people have made for us. We hope that we will continue to have their help and support (ditto the italics) in our near-future endeavours, especially in the International Conference held in Michigan next year.

Then again, without the outstanding contributions of these three awesome people, there would be no International Conference to speak of for us greasy people. Thank you so much, Miss Tan BC, Ms MTan and Mrs Lee; we won’t let you down!! (:

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Besides the Coalition of Aid Fair, the remaining 3 members in Singapore participated at the judging session of “Central Singapore O.N.E Awards – Outreach, Nurture, Enable”.

This was an event conceived to acknowledge groups proactive in the public health and environment arena in their community. In an entry sent by our school, three CmPS teams gave a combined presentation in the following order: Monkey Business, P.reserve it, Project GREASE (:

Being only allocated a total of 3 minutes to share our own project, our main difficulty was in fact to in fact minimize and literally SLICE off information from our PowerPoint script! Hence the overused exasperated shouts of “ARGH! JUST CUT OFF! THAT ONE? CUT OFF TOO!” erupting from the room we were working in.

As it turned out, the judges were scarcely concerned with our overshot timing (T.T). However, it was a rather pleasant and comfortable event followed by a Q&A.session. Scroll down for the result!

Presenting Project GREASE

Presenting Project GREASE

Concluding our presentation

Concluding our presentation

Judges smelling our soap samples

Judges smelling our soap samples

I see you brought alot of... ammunition)

More prepared publicity materials (Quote: I see you brought a lot of... ammunition)

5th Nov

The results have been announced! RGS has received a GOLD award. Congratulations to P.Reserve it, Monkey Business and US! 🙂

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After a hearty breakfast, we rushed up to our rooms to finish our packing, tidy our rooms as best as we could and to lug our luggage (luggage is for lugging!) down to the ground floor luggage holding room. This day’s morning was purely for shopping and souvenir-buying. The teachers briefed us on details including what time we were to return, and our group was reminded the hard way that one should never shut one’s eyes when the teacher is giving instructions, as it gives the impression that one is sleeping and being disrespectful. Once again, we sincerely apologise to our teachers who were like our second mothers during the trip.

On a happier note, roaming the shops along the streets and buying food and presents for loved ones at home was a pleasant experience for our group. With each other as company, we were never bored and spent many amusing moments taking photos while waiting for our friends to finish their purchases.

Talia and Gloria with new glasses!

Talia and Gloria with new glasses!

With little time left to eat, we dashed into a dumpling shop – ah, we had all missed Chinese food and soup dearly.

Warm, soothing soup...(and noodles, dumplings and rice)

Warm, soothing soup...(and noodles, dumplings and rice)

We gobbled down our food in record-breaking 20 minute and jogged all the way back to the hotel, thankfully arriving on time.

Top-rate hustle and bustle, imported from Singapore

Top-rate hustle and bustle, imported from Singapore

The reception area on ground floor was a mess of bodies and luggage, which we contributed to too. Everybody stuffed their prizes from that morning’s shopping into their bags and soon after, brought them out to the waiting bus (same friendly driver, same comfortable bus) for loading.

We arrived at the airport all too soon, and hastily made our way to the check-in counters. After handing over our luggage, we were given permission to wander about the shops near the waiting area for a while. When we finally made our way to the waiting area, however, we found out minutes after the original boarding time had passed that the flight was to be delayed. Even so, the time was passed peacefully as our group played hangman, ate snacks, and took pictures of sleeping fellow teammates.

Snacking and playing hangman while waiting

Snacking and playing hangman while waiting

Tired and sleeping

Tired and sleeping

Yes, this competition had indeed been hard work.

The flight back to Singapore was a fast one; most of us fell asleep for the entire trip, only waking up to eat, drink and perhaps use the washroom. Everyone arrived in Singapore safe and sound.

A group photo - "We're back!"

A group photo - "We're back!"

Back at Changi Airport in Singapore, we were greeted with news from Ms May Tan. This coming Wednesday (22 Oct), we have presentation to make with Monkey Business to the S7 (South 7) Cluster Schools’ principals as they will be coming to our school to know more about the CmPS programme and might want to introduce it to their schools too.

Hearing the news from Ms May Tan

Hearing the news from Ms May Tan

All in all, even these 5 blog posts can’t fully describe how amazing this trip has been. I personally have been very enriched by it, not just from the competition but from the time spent with my teammates. I’ve seen with my own eyes what teamwork can do, and I really do hope that Project GREASE will continue to stay strong as time passes. We all have our differences, but together as one voice we shall say,

“Project GREASE – 加油!”

(‘加油’ is read as ‘jiayou’, meaning ‘go for it!’ or ‘all the best!’. Yet it can also literally translate to ‘add oil!’)

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19th October 08!!! This has indeed been one of the best days ever. It started off with us giving Yujin a surprise in our room since it was her birthday! ((:

Yujia and Mrs Lee at the door right before sneaking into the apartment.

Yujia and Mrs Lee at the door right before sneaking into the apartment.

Here’s a picture of Yujin [blocked by hand] and the all pretty cake [courtesy of the girls from MGS].Here's a picture of Yujin [blocked by hand] and the all pretty cake [courtesy of the girls from MGS].

And here’s a video of our Birthday surprise for Yujin!

After the short celebration, without eating the cake we got ready to go shopping at the Queen Victoria Market and the Arts Centre. After which, we took THE TRAM to The University of Melbourne for the announcement of results. Here are a few pictures of our activities in the morning.

THE QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET

THE QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET

The Candy Shop

The Candy Shop

The Arts Centre

The Arts Centre

Many art pieces were displayed at the Arts Centre and that includes an array of beautiful soap! We managed to gain some soap making knowledge from these local soap makers too. However, we do realise that they did not utilise “used cooking oil” to make their soap.

The TRAM

The TRAM

We took this tram from the Arts Centre along the whole path which we took to go to the Arts Centre from Arrow on Swanston. The route of this tram is a good representation of what we have been walking along in these 5 days.

The Awards Ceremony

The Awards Ceremony

Our team was not really nervous before the announcement of the results since we realised that we have done our best. Eventually, our efforts paid off when we were announced as… THE CHAMPION FOR ASIA AFRICA MIDDLE DIVISION. (: We heaved sighs of relief when we heard “M8” from Singapore. Uncontrolled smiles were worn across our faces as we ran down the steps to receive our prize in the Copeland Theatre. It felt really good to earn such recognition. More importantly, we were extremely glad that our team would now finally be able to go to Michigan next year to compete with 8 [plus 1] spirits as 1! The jubilation even up till now is indescribable.

The Trophy for CmPS Asia Africa Middle Division Champions

The Trophy for CmPS Asia Africa Middle Division Champions

After the whole ceremony, we were asked to return to our apartments to get ready for dinner before the musical Wicked. Dinner was rather enjoyable with Monkey Business around. Throughout the Australia trip, Monkey Business has also provided us with much support to successfully go through the gruelling 5 days. Thank you Monkey Business! (:

Many of us looked forward to the musical since for some, it is the first experience of going to a musical.

Wicked

Wicked

The musical has really been enjoyable with the live orchestra and the flashy props. All if not most of us, managed to keep our eyes open throughout the whole show. The singing was really good and it was really interesting to know about the origins of The Lion, The Tinman and The Scarecrow.

The last night in Melbourne was spent enjoying the breeze as we paced back to the apartment. Then, we had debrief while eating Yujin’s birthday cake, summarising our trip so far and making future plans and new deployment.

Despite this being one of the most unforgettable days, Project GREASE believes that there will be more of such days in line for us as we continue to bond as a team and continue to strive towards one common goal-to do our best to save the environment.

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