Video Contest Taps Ingenuity in 82 Teams
Imagine using microwave radiation to transform sewage into biofuels. Or building “chameleon houses” with paint that harnesses solar energy. Or gathering up grocery bags so they can reinforce construction materials.
These are just a few of the amazing ideas proposed by students in the Shaping the Future Video Contest, a collaboration between Dow and the nonprofit organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), which engages more than 400,000 students around the world in four, age-based divisions of robotics competitions.
The contest invited FIRST teams to submit one-minute videos that describe a world challenge the team would like to solve using science, technology, engineering and math. The challenges, and the solutions, were left up to the students’ imaginations. And there was no shortage of imagination. A total of 82 entries were submitted from all around the world.
A $5,000 grand prize went to each of the top four entries, as determined by online public voting. Then, a $1,000 prize went to the top remaining entry from each of the four FIRST divisions. An additional $1,000 sponsor’s prize went to a team selected by Dow.
“These videos reflect the kind of innovative, creative thinking that FIRST is so good at fostering,” said Jordan Tremblay, a Dow Public Affairs manager who works closely with the robotics organization. “That’s why we’ve partnered with FIRST for so long, and why the partnership is growing as we strengthen our commitment to build the workforce of tomorrow, especially in the classroom-to-career area.”
The video contest entry receiving the most online votes came from Novo Hamburgo, Brazil. Team 1156, which goes by the team name “Under Control,” proposed to control the proliferation of sewage by using energy from a microwave reactor. About 2.6 billion people around the world do not have access to basic sanitation services, the students point out in the video, contributing to the spread of harmful diseases including cholera, malaria, hepatitis and many others.
“Our solution consists of using radiation from a microwave reactor to power dehydration that will get rid of part of the waste,” one of the students says in the video. “This solution can be applied in communities that have no access to sanitation. Besides having its volume reduced by 80 percent, the leftovers can be used as fertilizers and biofuels, adding value to something that normally would be discarded.”