Trio of secondary schools realize the potential of creating affordable and eco-sustainable climate management solutions that also help improve social mobility in rural communities
WHEN a forward-looking business knocked on the door, three spirited high school girls from Miri rose to the game-changer challenge and ended up creating an innovative solution that would be the pride of the United Nations (UN).
It was also a welcome boost to bring Malaysia to nurture interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), as well as critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills, among the young minds of the country.
The 17-year-old trio Anisha Praveen Karunakaran, Daphne Douglas and Liew Jia Wen – all from SMK Lutong – emerged from the “Best Team” at – a highly innovative education program created by Shell, aimed at helping young people develop skills. skills, understanding and mindset to find lasting solutions to many of the major global challenges of this modern era – which makes them agents of positive change.
Introducing themselves, ironically, as “static” in the competition, Miri’s schoolgirls had come up with an invention called “Chillax” without burning a big hole in their pockets.
The Chillax was designed as an affordable, innovative and environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional air conditioning unit, in that the former could harness rainwater and sunlight for fuel – a feature that should benefit households. rural people who did not have access to a reliable electricity supply. .
This invention earned “Static” the national championship victory at “Shell NXplorers Grand Finals Malaysia” last year and since then Chillax has received international recognition, with the story now featured on the Shell NXplorers website. (https://nxplorers.com/ fr / news / rethinking-rain-water-in-Malaysia).
His creative use of evaporating rainwater as a cooling system could provide rural homes with a way to stay cool without relying on unstable power supplies and expensive equipment.
Chillax consisted of an automated sprinkler system powered by rainwater, a solar panel, a temperature sensor and a water pump, as well as a mobile app to monitor and control the entire mechanism.
Beyond creating a cooler home environment, this project helped the team realize they could create affordable climate management solutions that would produce zero waste, contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). United Nations and would also help improve the social mobility of communities who otherwise find it difficult to provide a productive learning environment for their young members.
“Static” leader Anisha said that Shell NXplorers had “broadened their horizons on the possibilities and wide application of STEM in problem solving, encouraging new ideas and perspectives in problem solving”.
“NXplorers also gave me new ways of thinking about things. This is what I think is cool about the NXplorers – it doesn’t teach us anything specific that could only be used in the competition we’re in. “
His feelings matched exactly what Shell had in mind when it launched the program in 2014 – to empower young people to tackle the complex challenges the world faces today.
Shell NXplorers aims to equip them with the tools and skills to solve problems using collaborative, innovative and interdisciplinary approaches.
The school girls’ achievement rewarded Shell Malaysia’s belief and confidence in innovative Malaysian talent and also its commitment to heeding the call from technocrats and government to focus on STEM education to move the country forward.
Shell NXplorers aims to challenge students to work as a team to design and innovate solutions to real-world problems in the context of energy, food and water. Along with STEM applications, this was also aimed at enriching participants with the development of soft skills and self-confidence, encouraging students to improve their communications, presentations, teamwork and project management, which should greatly help them in the future.
For aspiring engineer Jia Wen, time management, goal setting and meeting deadlines were essential for the team as they had to balance their time for schoolwork and their respective projects, in addition to others. individual time constraints.
“The NXplorers tools allowed me to identify issues in a larger framework and deepen my understanding of issues where I was able to learn to think creatively not only by coming up with new ideas, but also in my life. daily.
“I realized that a small idea could really solve a big problem. Ordinary people like us, who are only school children, can solve a big problem in our daily life with a small project; a small system like this (Chillax) could bring many benefits not only to people, but also to the environment, ”enthuses the student from SMK Lutong.
Her teammate Daphne said she learned that achieving the desired results and the international recognition that followed came from great teamwork, persistence, a methodical approach and attention to the smallest. details.
“The team is already planning to improve the project, but only after we girls took our SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) exams this year,” said Daphne, who is “deeply excited” about the programming. computer science.
In addition to this, Jia Wen said that she is already considering the idea of adding a hydraulic turbine to Chillax, which would make it an even more energy efficient system that could also generate electricity during the days of rain or night.
Shell Malaysia (Upstream Malaysia) President and Senior Vice President Ivan Tan said the emphasis on instilling an interest in STEM topics in children from an early age was “crucial” to promote the complex and creative thinking necessary to meet the growing world.
“The future is not yet made, but the STEM way of thinking could bridge the skills gap in our future, and it would help us build the future together. This is why Shell has developed a program that encourages STEM education, ”he said in a statement.
STEM-based education could create talent and encourage young people to look at things differently, see opportunities and find lasting solutions to global problems, he said.
He also pointed out that STEM could link education and application, equipping students with tools to apply from their learnings and also to realize their ideas.
“We are enabling the next generation to reimagine our world, giving them the confidence to make a difference in their local communities, but also globally,” added Tan.
Embracing the world of technology and innovation while bridging the urban-rural STEM divide in Malaysia remains the legacy of Shell and its long-standing partnerships with government and educational entities, aimed at empowering the next generation of Malaysians. .
Greater student interest in STEM subjects would meet Malaysia’s future human capital needs and address the current shortage as it equips them with the skills required for the jobs of tomorrow.
The country is already facing a shortage of a STEM-trained workforce as fewer students are enrolled in the science stream in secondary schools, despite the country’s goal of achieving a 60:40 ratio. ‘students following the respective scientific and artistic streams in secondary schools under the “Education Master Plan 2013-2025” of the Ministry of Education.
“We believe that STEM culture starts in the classroom; hence our desire to invest in our young people, to equip them with the appropriate skills and tools and to give them the means to become future innovators and engineers who would meet the aspirations of the nation ”, declared Tan.
In the long term, STEM education would contribute to Shell’s “Powering Progress Strategy” of accelerating the transition of its business to net zero emissions; reduce emissions from its operations and from fuels and other energy products; and capture and store any remaining emissions using technology or balance them with offsets.
The oil giant is moving towards the supply of more low-carbon energies such as biofuels, hydrogen, recharging of electric vehicles and electricity produced by solar and wind energy in its activity.
While human ingenuity, innovation and technology remain essential to unlock cleaner energy for years to come, Shell places its trust in bright young talent who, with the right support and guidance, should deliver solutions. sustainable to the great global challenges of the current era. .