It’s neither a scooter, nor a go-cart, and certainly not a harvesting machine. The Eco-dust Cleaning Machine Version 1 (ECM-1) is a small electric car fitted with a back-support chair and equipped with a sweeping system.

Developed by three inventive students from Hun Sen Serey Pheap Secondary School, the ECM-1 is garnering attention from both the local community and the education sector.

Designed to transform the way we clean public spaces, the ECM-1 project is a shining example of young minds leveraging Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education to solve real-world problems.

“It may not look impressive, but for me, it’s amazing because it’s the result of our team’s collective ideas and hard work,” said Try Solidet, one of the students behind its development.

Rim Peng Hong, another learner involved in the project, underscored the importance of STEM education in achieving these innovative goals.

“It provides a platform where we can apply various theories to create not just this sweeping machine, but also anything else that interests us,” Hong said.

The project is part of a broader initiative supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under its Upper Secondary Education Sector Development Programme.

Jyotsana Varma, ADB Country Director for Cambodia, elaborated on their aims to enhance the quality and relevance of secondary education, particularly in STEM fields.

“These initiatives also support career guidance, school partnerships with local industry and the upgrading of qualifications for STEM teachers,” Varma stated.

She clarified that while ADB does not offer incentives to individual students, merit scholarships are available, particularly for female students in the science stream.

ADB’s efforts align with the government’s strategy to transform its young, low-skilled workforce into a knowledge- and technology-based one.

“Our projects improve the effectiveness of the higher education system by increasing access to quality schooling, thereby strengthening institutions’ capacities,” Varma added.

Beyond secondary education, ADB partners with other organisations to enhance post-secondary training and workforce skills, aiming to meet the demands of an evolving economy.

Turning Ideas into Reality

Thol Chanthorn, a Grade 12 STEM and maths teacher at Hun Sen Serey Pheap High School,T played a pivotal role in guiding the students.

“They develop ideas to solve their own challenges. We assist them in areas they find difficult, like welding,” said Chanthorn.

The design of the ECM-1 resembles a small electric car, enhanced with a sweeping system similar to a plough. It can efficiently collect not just dust but also fallen leaves and various kinds of litter, making it a versatile solution for maintaining clean public spaces.

“Some products we have made in the past aren’t practical for everyday use. But with ECM-1, it’s a different story,” Chanthorn said.

As for future plans, Chanthorn is pondering over the necessity and effectiveness of additional production of the unit to assist in cleaning school grounds.

“We are contemplating whether to continue using battery power or to switch to gasoline engines. Though gasoline engines have a minor environmental impact, they offer greater cleaning capacity and can be equipped with additional features,” he said.

Inspiring Future Innovators

Thorn Sreynich, another team member, urged budding innovators to collaborate and persist with their ideas.

“Don’t give up; discuss with friends and partner up,” Sreynich advised.

Echoing this sentiment, Solidet said: “Working as a team enables us to bring good ideas to fruition, benefiting both the community and the country.”

Chanthorn, always one step ahead, is already considering his next project: a communication robot for the school library that would make it a more interactive and technologically advanced space.

“Students can interact with robots for services like book searches and research,” he said.

The ECM-1 may look unassuming, but its impact on both the community and its young creators is nothing short of remarkable. It stands as a testament to the power of innovation and cooperation in shaping a brighter future.