One Bottle at a Time
You don’t often hear about a school project that sets out to solve, or at least work towards creating a solution to a societal problem. Well I know I was never asked to when I was in high school 11 years ago. I’m not sure our teachers had enough faith in us to be honest, and if they did, they never empowered us to the point that we believed it.
Thankfully times are changing and there’s one particular subject that encourages and assesses students on problem solving skills and creativity.
Design & Technology allows students to use the design process to develop a Major Design project in their chosen design field. The final design project reflects the student’s personal interests, perspectives and expertise developed through projects and exploration of resources experienced in earlier years. Students undertake a comparative study of their design project with industrial and commercial practice. This project is marked externally and is weighted at 60% of the final HSC mark, with the final 40% being assessed via the end of year exam.
Lucy Lancaster, a recent year 12 graduate from NSW, studied Design & Technology and after some research into growing problems in society, was blown away by the excessive consumption of bottled water and the negative effects the plastic has on the environment.
“I started researching issues on the internet and came across a staggering statistic – 600 million bottles of water are being sold every year in Australia alone. I thought that was a really excessive amount,” Lucy explains.
Lucy also discovered that around 64% of the plastic ends up in landfill, rather than being recycled. Her mind started to wander and she began to brainstorm ideas that could potentially lessen the impact.
“While researching I also realised that I wasn’t drinking enough water each day. Curious to know about other students’ water consumption I developed a survey that asked about their daily intake. It turns out that I was in the majority as 80% of those surveyed were also consuming less than recommended. I decided to tackle both issues head on.
“I want my generation to be more interested and active in protecting our environment, while also staying healthy. So I brainstormed some solutions and decided to design a water bottle filling station for schools, made from reused plastic bottles. This addressed both of my concerns.
“I emailed plumbing product supplier RBA and told them about my project as I was keen to buy one of their taps. I asked if I may be able to get it at a cheaper rate due to my project’s budget and they were kind enough to offer the tap for free because they loved my idea.”
Lucy developed an idea that encouraged students to bring their own reusable water bottles each day which could be filed at the refilling station whenever they required a top up.
To come up with the final design, she created a lot of sketches and worked closely with her teacher to come up with some CAD drawings. She then obtain some help from her father (also a teacher at the school) to build it. The project was so well received that she was top of the class. There were other positives to take from the project too.
“I have even started drinking more water and I’m a lot more conscience of water bottle consumption.
“I received access to a bunch of the exact same bottles for the design because one of my family friends works in the emergency department of a hospital. He was telling my parents how all of the workers are provided with water bottles each day and was telling them about all of the bottles that were being wasted. They asked him to collect them for my project and in three weeks I had around 200 bottles.
“The boss saw it and realised how ridiculous it was so he installed a water bottle filling station in there – they aren’t using plastic bottles anymore.”
Perhaps a nationwide movement is on the cards… how’s that saying go?
‘From little things, big things grow’.