SINGAPORE: Children can take charge to green the earth, as proven by the exceptional team winners at this year’s Panasonic—NEA Eco Ideas Challenge.
With double the number of submissions this year compared to the last, ideas included a car powered by urine.
With just S$500 donated by Panasonic and three months to put their plans into action, the challenge was to be resourceful, innovative and to work as a team.
To give the students a boost of inspiration, Panasonic also hosted a study tour of its factory for the opportunity to learn about real—life environment applications in industry processes, including cast—iron recycling and the use of natural lighting.
The first prize of the Secondary School category went to a group of boys, who came up with a rather unusual way to power a car.
Hari Narayana Kope, a secondary 2 student from Raffles Institution, said: "We were thinking of ways of how we were able to use waste, which is currently in a way under—utilised in Singapore.
"In Singapore we’re not allowed to test on human fluids as per se, so what we instead used is urea, which is a common chemical compound found in urine. After you electrolyse urea, you get hydrogen gas, it’s a by product of urea, the hydrogen gas is pumped into the fuel cell and it collects oxygen from the atmosphere. With only water as the byproduct and both of this is able to produce electricity. So this electricity is then able to run the motor in the prototype car," Hari explained.
But sometimes, even simple ideas can work wonders.
For example, a team of Secondary Students from Hai Sing Catholic School came up with a method to salvage orange peels and turn them into a cleaning detergent that’s not just eco—friendly, but also rather effective.
Alicia Tan, a secondary 1 student from Hai Sing Catholic School, said: "You put it in a blender and add water to it and you blend it. Then after that, you filter with the filter paper or a filter cloth thereafter you can use it. We have tested on using on wiping away of permanent marker ink. And it works amazing."
The eco—movement seems to have gained momentum even amongst the younger ones like a group of students from Anchor Green Primary, who designed activity books for kindergarten students to share their love for the Sengkang Floating Wetland.
Their programme package includes hand—on activities that aims to teach kindergarten students about the flora and fauna of the wetlands.
Others were touched by the plight of amputees abroad, and decided to go beyond serving a green mission.
Irdina Syaurah, a primary 4 student from Greenridge Primary School, said: "Some of the amputees in Chiang Mai actually lost their legs in landmines explosions. We were quite upset with this kind of happenings going about, so we decided to actually collect ring tabs from the kids in our school so that they can actually help other amputees."
They set up a recycling programme to collect aluminium tabs from drink and food cans, which will be used to make prosthetic limbs for amputees and artificial leg for animals.
Loh Ying Xuan, a primary 5 student from Greenridge Primary School, said: "Our initial target was to collect 150kg of ring tabs, but we ended up collecting double the amount, which is 300 kg of ring tabs. We went door—to—door to distribute flyers that we created to raise awareness for the public."
With these fresh ideas from such young minds, perhaps the future of Singapore’s environment is good hands.
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