Prize-winning UAE pupils say climate change should top agenda in product design

The group, all aged 14, won a global environment award

Schoolchildren in Dubai who won a global award for their environmental efforts are determined to prove that small steps can help save the planet.

The five pupils at Hartland International School, all aged 14, won the sustainability award in the international F1 in Schools competition, held in June.

Gautam Nambiar; Karthika Ajay; Elizaveta Soboleva; Daren Tan and Wayne D’Souza, all in Year 9, created a scaled down and more efficient version of an F1 car.

They also made uniforms out of recycled plastic, planted ghaf trees and embraced carpooling.

Now, the young climate warriors have turned their attention to spreading their message of saving the planet to people throughout the UAE.

We should carpool wherever possible, reduce our use of plastic and reuse renewable resources
Gautam Nambiar

“By winning the award, we set an example to keep sustainability in mind and we will continue to inform others about our attempts at reducing our carbon footprint,” said Wayne, who was the team’s manufacturing engineer.

“We hope people will be encouraged to try and reduce their impact on the environment.”

He said the group often posted about their environment-related efforts on social media to encourage others.

Wayne, who is Indian, said simple decisions such as driving a car or using a computer could contribute towards global warming.

“Every little action counts and has an impact on our carbon footprint. Whether it is recycling a bottle or planting 100 trees, everything counts,” he said.

Gautam, the team manager, said there are a number of ways in which people could help protect the environment in their daily lives.

“For instance, we should carpool wherever possible, reduce our use of plastic and reuse renewable resources,” he said.

“We need to recycle materials as much as possible and follow the guidelines from local authorities on saving water and electricity.”

The annual F1 in Schools competition is an international science, technology, engineering and maths competition for children aged nine to 19.

This year, 43 teams from 18 countries competed.

Prizes are awarded in several categories; the Dubai team won for having the most sustainable submission.

“As a team, we wanted to be an example to the others,” said Gautam, who is Indian.

The pupils partnered with a sustainable company which made their uniforms out of plastic

They decided to plant ghaf trees because they are native to the UAE, to represent the country globally, said team director Karthika.

Karthika, who is Indian, said the group’s focus was on helping others to understand that progress did not have to come at the cost of the environment.

Russian pupil Elizaveta, who was the graphic designer in the team, said: “In the constantly developing world we live in now, sustainability is often not put at the top while designing products.

“We wanted to create a good and lasting impact, so we put this as the top thing.

“We carried out events that had a lasting impact on the community and all our funds were used wisely.”

The group carpooled whenever possible and items they bought for use in the project were later donated to the school.

James Peacock, subject leader in design technology, said winning at the global stage was a massive achievement.

“We competed with schools that have been doing this for a decade, and this was our first year,” he said.

He said the pupils’ efforts showed that sustainability isn’t merely something teachers talked about but an integral part of industry.

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Updated: August 29th 2021, 12:56 PM