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08 June 16

Budding innovators try to change the world, one drop at a time

Five teams from schools in Welwyn, Hatfield and Luton are ready to change the world by addressing pressing water issues, starting with their own communities.

Young innovators from schools in Affinity Water’s area have competed in a new WaterAid initiative, ‘Challenge: Water’, to showcase ideas to make a real change towards sustainable living.

Team WASPS, from Putteridge High School in Luton, won with their campaign to have students turn off the tap while brushing teeth. Students were encouraged to make water-saving pledges, for which they received stickers and house points; the team designed a toothbrush with a built-in water container that releases enough water to rinse after brushing, saving water in the process.

The Deputy Mayor of Welwyn and Hatfield, Councillor Lynne Sparks, presented the team with their award.

The awards ceremony and celebration event took place on Friday 27 May, at Affinity Water’s Head Office in Hatfield, where each school pitched their ideas to a panel of judges from across the water sector.

‘Challenge: Water’ launched earlier this year in Northwest London and the Home Counties, served by Affinity Water, to encourage young people to come up with pioneering solutions to water issues. The challenge also connects schools with water experts in the key areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and is closely linked to the national curriculum.

Along the way, the five teams have learnt how local actions can have global impact. During sessions, the children have been encouraged to use games, debates, films and activities to better understand why water conservation is such a crucial issue in the UK and around the world.

The entries included:

  • Challney High School for Girls, in Luton - Team Waterlicious ran a ‘shower shorter, save water’ campaign including their own YouTube channel.

  • Putteridge High School, Luton - Team WASPS (Water Awareness Squad of Putteridge School) developed an innovative toothbrush to overcome the problem of people leaving the tap on when their brushing teeth.

  • Denbigh High School Team - Hydroburgers decided that they would tackle the issue of students having long showers, as they found over 50% of students were spending more than 10 minutes in the shower.

  • Sir Frederic Osborn School, Welwyn – Team: Splish, splash, dosh developed an innovative shower device and app where each person declares a personal goal for water and money saved, allowing them to save for an item they desire.

  • Onslow St Audreys School, Hatfield - Team: Code Name Puppies (Planets Unappreciated Political Problems in Every Society) designed a product which replaces taps with a computer system which would be installed in showers to incrementally reduce shower times. They also undertook a behaviour change campaign, reaching 550 people through assemblies, posters and surveys.

Panel judges included Marcus Missen, WaterAid’s Director of Communications and Fundraising; Nic Gilbert, Water Efficiency Strategy Manager at Affinity Water; Tim Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of Save Water, Save Money and Helen Spencer, Director of SETPOINT Hertfordshire.

Marcus Missen, WaterAid’s Director of Communications and Fundraising said:

“These incredible, young people have interpreted the urgency and the need to conserve one of our most precious resources during this exciting challenge. Their ideas and presentations were inspiring and I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in this hugely successful project, especially the winning team, WASPs from Putteridge High School.

“The children involved have worked extremely hard, and have gained hands-on creative skills to get a better understanding of the importance of water for everyone, everywhere.”

Simon Cocks, CEO of Affinity Water said:

“I am delighted with Affinity Water’s involvement with Challenge: Water, a real life Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) initiative. The students involved have gained valuable industry experience, enhanced their employability skills and used their creativity to develop innovative solutions to save water. It is important to inspire young people to consider the range of opportunities that the water industry can offer.”

David Graham, head teacher, Putteridge High School, said:

"We are immensely proud of all the students that took part in our Challenge: Water programme. They have worked extremely hard since Jan 2016 producing an outstanding water saving device. Of course none of this could have been achieved without excellent guidance from all the staff involved, in particular Mark Brennan who has lead the project from start to finish. We now look forward to investing our £500 prize money back into STEM work. It's exciting times for Putteridge High."

Mark Brennan, Science Teacher at Putteridge High School said:

"I found it immensely rewarding. The number of children we managed to get on board was incredible. Everything they did from start to finish has been incredible, the children put in a lot of effort, using their own free time to work on the project. Even if we hadn't have won the prize, we'd still have been so proud.”

WaterAid is looking to expand ‘Challenge: Water’ from September 2016. Schools or companies interested in running the Challenge: Water programme are encouraged to email to register interest.

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