Susan Mostowy (lead judge from France), Joeson Toh (Dare to Invent winner), Nancy Soon (Founder of the PWSIC and STEMIE Advantages)
Photo: STEMIE Advantages

As a victim of bullying, eleven-year-old Joeson Toh saw a smaller-sized student being bullied by another bigger student when he was in Primary 3. He wished he stood up for himself and those being bullied. 

 “When I look back at myself, I regret not standing up for myself and letting the bullies do whatever they want,” he said. 

Having witnessed many bullying incidents in various forms (verbal, physical and online), Joeson wanted to create an invention that could prevent this pain and suffering. He empathises with the effect bullying has on others – it affects more than just their studies, but their self-confidence as well.

To make our world a better place to live in, Joeson invented Kai Wins. 

Photo: Goh Yi Shan (Joeson’s Mother)

Kai Wins is a game-based invention that educates students about the emotional hurt that bullying causes. With no coding background or experience, his game creation journey was an eventful one.

He used Scratch, a free programming language, and had to self-learn the complex controls. He was on the brink of quitting as it was too difficult, but encouragement from his teachers and mentors kept him going.

Joeson shared that he learned more than just technical skills on his journey. He had to present his ideas to his CCA members and his initial belief that “it would be easy” soon went out the window when he stood in front of others. 

Joeson presenting to his friends
Photo: Goh Yi Shan (Joeson’s Mother)

“2 seconds felt like 2 minutes”, Joeson reflected, and the game was a “mess” with many coding mistakes by the end of the prototype 1 presentation. His glimmer of hope was “being devoured”. 

He tried many methods to improve his prototype, and perseverance paid off as he won the Dare to Invent Award at the 2023 Pratt & Whitney Singapore Invention Convention (PWSIC). 

The award embodies the vision of this year’s event, rewarding the young inventor for displaying extraordinary courage in solving a problem that few would dare to approach, and even fewer would approach with such a measured response. 

PWSIC brought more than 240 students from Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines to present their invention to real-world problems across two days from 15 November 2023 to 16 November 2023. This annual competition celebrates inventiveness and resilience amongst students in Singapore and the region. 

Other award-winning inventions include Water Egglixer by Secondary 4 students of Hwa Chong Institution, Seah Yuheng and Chng Ming Cong Jerell. It uses eggshells to remove heavy metal ions and as an anti-bacterial agent to purify polluted water. 

Nancy Soon, founder of the PWSIC and STEMIE Advantages, a co-organiser of the event, shared that the goal is to place the power of change in the hands of the next generation. 

PWSIC, in its 5th year, has witnessed inventors solve a myriad of global and local problems, and this year’s focus is on mental wellness, sustainability, and active ageing among others. 

Bonus Question with Joeson Toh: What advice would you give to other kids experiencing bullying? 

You should not be afraid to stand up for yourself. 

“When I look back at myself, I regretted not standing up for myself and letting the bullies do whatever they wanted. I was also scared to tell my parents, teachers or friends. When my grandfather saw the scratch marks, I would make excuses such as, “Oh, I did not look where I was going and fell down”.”

  • On physical bullying, do not retaliate. You may be agitated to hit back, but you may end up hurting the bully unintentionally. I would suggest not to fight back unless for self-defence. Move away and inform an adult.
  • On being called names, do not show the bullies your emotions. If you look mad and look like you are about to explode /look annoyed. it will give the bully a sense of accomplishment that he/she has succeeded, and this will encourage them to continue to bully you.
  • On cyberbullying, this is probably going to be the most common type of bullying in recent times for kids as children get more exposure online. This is also the most dangerous form of bullying as this may not be apparent to our teachers or parents. My best advice is to block and report the user and also inform your teachers or parents. 

In all cases, speak to your teachers or parents. Talk to someone you trust about it.

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