The award winning Water Design Challenge asked 11-14 year olds in the South East of England to come up with innovative new ways of saving water. The Challenge, created and managed by the Design Council in association with Southern Water, ran in 2010 and 2011.
Fifteen schools from across Southern Water’s supply area participated in the Challenge, and were asked to address two questions:
- How much water does your school use?
- How can you use design to reduce wastage?
To help tackle these questions each school was partnered with a Design Ambassador. The Design Ambassador, an experienced practicing designer, worked in a voluntary capacity to mentor students in design thinking and idea development. A total of £30,000 in prize money has been awarded to help schools that designed the best products, services or campaigns to turn their ideas into reality.
Why is it important?
With ever more pressure on the water supply and the effects of climate change, it’s vital that as a nation we manage our water consumption better. South East England is a water stressed area. It has less water available per person than Sudan and Syria. As summers are becoming hotter and drier and our population is increasing, we all need to find a way to reduce the amount of water we use. As Southern Water embarks on the biggest meter installation programme in the country, the Water Design Challenge aimed to help schools reduce their water usage, drive behavior change in the next generation of water customers, and come up with innovative new ways of saving water!
How it worked
The project kicks off with an Inspiration session, where teachers and designers get to know each other, learn about issues related to water conservation, as well as find out about the Double Diamond design process and deepen their understanding of the role of design in behaviour change.
Schools ran the Challenge in a number of different ways. Some ran the Challenge solely during class time, whilst others took a week off timetable, or ran it as part of an after school STEM Club.
Alongside the range of resources provided, including a Water Calculator and an online workspace to share ideas, schools had access to water experts and visited local water treatment plants.
In 2011 five schools were shortlisted to attend the final event at Bewl Water with a chance to win a share of the £20,000 prize fund to help implement their idea. The five schools selected were:
Full-Flush, Mini-Flush from Fort Pitt Grammar, Rochester
Adapting current toilets to create mini-flush and full-flush cubicles for staff and students in the school.
Aqua Monitor and Aqua App from Midhurst Rother College, Midhurst
A water monitor and app to help families save water in the home, and a fun water saving game for 10-14 year olds.
Aqua Palz from Sholing Technology College, Southampton
A constant reminder to help save water, Aqua Palz remind you to save water today and everyday.
H2 Know from Thomas Aveling School, Rochester
A hand washing system that reduces the amount of water we use washing our hands and clearly shows the user how water efficient they are.
Water Mania from Thomas Bennett Community College, Crawley
A fun computer game which allows people to learn about saving water by playing as a water saving superhero.
The schools skilfully pitched their ideas to a dragons den panel of judges, which included representatives from the Consumer Council for Water and Barclays Business Woman of the Year Emily Cummins. Pupils from Fort Pitt Grammar School in Chatham, Kent were crowned winners of the Water Design Challenge 2011, scooping £9,000 in prize money with their entry demonstrating how their solution would reduce the amount of water used in the school’s toilets by a third, saving around £5,000 on the school’s annual water bill.
Their design centred on the concept of having two different types of toilets to reduce the amount of water needed for flushing. The urine only toilets were fitted with a special float device so that they only used 2 litres of water per flush, whilst the other toilet had a standard 6 litre flush.
The other finalists were second place Sholing Technology College awarded £3,500. Whilst runners-up Midhurst Rother College, Thomas Aveling School and Thomas Bennett Community College were all allocated £2,500 to develop their ideas further.
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