In the event of a natural disaster, could solar powered solutions be used to help save the day, and even lives? That was the premise posed to high school students participating in the first-ever Clean Tech Competition student challenge. The contest was put on by Applied Materials and the National Science Teachers Association.
The competition was designed to inspire a new generation of innovators in the cleantech field. Students aged 13 to 18 came together from the San Francisco Bay Area and Xi’an, China. Students were challenged with the compeition’s theme: “Solar Solutions to the Rescue.” Teams of students designed a solar-powered solution to a basic human need identified in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Participants identified a situation, explored the issue and then presented their cleantech solution to a panel of industry and education experts for judging.
Project entries ranged from a tracking system to locate victims swept away by a tsunami or flood to a lightweight, chemically active filtration mask that used solar and battery power to reduce the risk of developing respiratory problems from exposure to volcanic ash. Other projects included a solar-powered reverse osmosis water supply system and an emergency communication station that can direct search and rescue teams to a trapped person’s precise location after an earthquake.
The winners were John Zhao, Melody Hsu and Jun Chang, a team from Cupertino High School in California. The team’s project was called H2Oasis, a solar-powered reverse osmosis water supply system. The student’s disaster was based on a real-life disaster, the flooding of the Huang River in China. In their scenario, the river had flooded and left nearby residents without a clean water supply.