It’s an invention set to get tails wagging rather than tongues, but for the short-term its creator hopes it will earn her generous marks in the 2020 Higher School Certificate.
It took a laterally thinking farmer’s daughter to come up with a solution for the work dogs of the land whose lot in life it is to sit on the back of utes and under trucks before they’re whistled into work.
And it was watching dogs in cages beneath huge livestock trucks that inspired Alice Hayes, of Young, to invent a dog enclosure that would offer more in terms of creature comforts.
“I don’t actually have a name for it,” she tells Region Media. “I just call it a ‘cooling system for a dog box’.”
The project is for her design and technology course which, for year 11 and 12 students, involves the study of design theory and practice, design processes, environmental and social issues, communication, research, technologies, and the manipulation of materials, tools and techniques.
There are also hands-on practical activities which develop students’ knowledge and skills in designing and producing.
It took a while for Alice to settle on an idea for a practical project for the big exam as nothing inspired her. She thought there had to be an element that involved the family farm.
“Dad [John] and I were brainstorming ideas,” explains Alice. “We were loading sheep and I looked at the dog boxes under the truck and thought they looked a bit hot. I thought I could do something with that, but it didn’t work, although it did evolve into a cooling system.”
The dog box cooling system comprises fans and misters that turn on automatically when the box reaches a certain temperature.
But the system is far from simple, Alice explains.
“There’s a temperature sensor inside the box, and a display unit in the ute,” she says. “The cooling system automatically turns on when the dog box reaches a certain temperature.”
As the temperature climbs, the fan increases in speed. At 50 degrees Celsius, the misters kick in.
It was no small feat to build. Help came in the form of John, who assisted with the mesh and metal components, and a clever coder who works at Alice’s school.
The box is operational, but it has not been tested on the family sheepdogs because it has had to be minus one side for display and marking purposes.
“We started it to make sure it actually cooled down the box, but it couldn’t be closed,” says Alice. “But we could see it actually cooled the air in the box.”
She says her model was built for a ute, but the design could be retrofitted to any sort of vehicle.
Along with the box comes a 40-page portfolio and video, all part of the HSC project. These theoretical elements are sent to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for assessment.
Alice is now midway through the HSC at her school. She is set to finish on 11 November with the 90-minute written design and technology exam.
It’s a subject that has taken a year to complete, and she’s happy with the result.
“Yeah, it turned out alright,” she says.
Alice is eyeing off a career in nursing, but certainly the dogs of the land will hope the cooling dog box not only fetches good marks for Alice, but becomes a feature of their days at work.