Pupils from two Medway schools left local MP Mark Reckless impressed after telling him about their innovative ideas for saving water.
The youngsters from Fort Pitt Grammar, Chatham and Thomas Aveling School, Rochester got the chance to brief the Member of Parliament when he paid a visit to present both schools with prize money of more than £10,000 from the 2011 Water Design Challenge.
The Challenge, an award-winning scheme run by Southern Water and the Design Council, aims to inspire youngsters to cut their water and carbon footprint, all with a helping hand from professional designers and water industry experts.
Fort Pitt’s team beat off nine other schools from across the South East to take top honours with a design which would reduce the amount of water used in the school’s toilets by a third, saving around £5,000 on their annual water bill.
The concept, which has attracted attention from entrepreneur Peter Jones, centred on using a specially designed cistern float to create two different types of toilet, one for urine only and one for ‘solids’. The urine only toilets only use 2 litres of water per flush, whilst the other type of toilet has a 6 litre flush.
Mark Reckless presented pupils fromFort Pitt with a cheque for £9,000, made up of £8,000 to develop their idea further and £1,000 for educational resources for the school.
Thomas Aveling’s team were awarded £1,500 to make their concept, a futuristic sink equipped with a dial to show how much water is saved or used, a reality. In addition, they also received £1,000 for educational resources.
Mr Reckless said:
“I was hugely impressed by both the presentations I saw, not just by the ideas themselves, but also the way in which both schools developed them from drawing board to reality. The students really thought about how practical their concepts were, the economics involved, along with how long the products would take to produce and how they would be marketed.
“It’s great to see two schools from Medway, including the overall winners, in the final of a competition which spanned the South East. I would like to thank Southern Water and the Design Council for running the Water Design Challenge, as well as their generosity with prize money – I bet if you asked for £4,000 on the ‘Dragon’s Den’ TV programme to develop your idea, you wouldn’t get £9,000. But that’s what happened with Fort Pitt after they wowed the judges.”
As well as accepting their prize money, both school teams were presented with CREST awards from the British Science Association in recognition of their use of science, technology, engineering and maths to solve ‘real life’ challenges. The awards are endorsed to provide credit on future university applications.
Lauren Parmenter is part of the team from Fort Pitt Grammar. She outlined their plans for the future:
“With the money we have received we can cover the labour costs involved in making our product in larger numbers, as well marketing it and patenting it.
“We have contacted Peter Jones from ‘Dragon’s Den’ about our idea and we are hoping to get organisations and businesses to try it out – we have had some interest from local primary schools. Winning the Water Design Challenge has been very exciting and is something that we can cherish forever.”
Jake McCall, a pupil from Thomas Aveling School, added:
“We really enjoyed the Water Design Challenge. We would like to use our prize money to make a proper prototype of our design. I think we’re going to come up with a few new ideas to try and improve what we have already come up with.”
For more information on the Water Design Challenge, please visit www.designcouncil.org.uk/waterdesignchallenge
Southern Water’s 5 year programme to install 500,000 water meters across the South East is currently in Gillingham, having previously visited Rochester, Strood and Chatham.
You can find out more about the programme and how it is helping secure future water resources by visiting www.southernwater.co.uk/metering or calling the dedicated Metering Customer Call Centre on 0333 2003 012.