Regional STEM students solving water waste with 3D printing and a little imagination

Students from Riverland primary schools have gathered in Berri to showcase their most imaginative inventions to promote water conservation.

Younger generations are learning about the importance of saving water by designing innovative solutions to real world water use problems as part of a South Australia-wide STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) challenge.

The challenge, facilitated by SA Water and SA IT company Makers Empire, is being hosted at Berri Primary School as a satellite event for Riverland students alongside a larger expo in Adelaide.

The students were able to use 3D printing to demonstrate their inventions.

Cobdogla Primary School students Jordan and Jack exhibit their 3D prototypes.(ABC Riverland: Sophie Landau)

Inspired by real world problems

Berri Primary School STEM coordinator Zack Plaquet said the challenge had jump-started students’ creative problem-solving skills.

“The kids had that freedom to think about what issues they see around the school, around their homes or anything to do with water,” he said.

“They got to put their skills and knowledge to use to try and solve problems.”

A pink block that says 5:00 STOP, GO
Amy Simon’s shower timer was inspired by people enjoying long, hot showers on cold days.(ABC Riverland: Sophie Landau)

Year 3 Berri Primary School students Amy Simon and Nardia Gilles came up with solutions for water-use problems they noticed around the house.

Amy’s group invented a shower timer after noticing extended water-use as a result of the chilly winter weather.

“When you enter the shower, you enter a number into the timer and the maximum is 10 minutes,” she said.

“I step in the shower and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, it’s a bit cold outside’, but before I created the shower timer, my mum has told me to get out but I think, ‘I don’t want to get out. I think I’ll just stay in’.

“Our shower timer will automatically turn off the water and you’ll know it’s time to get out.”

A pink and a red disc being held by a young student.
This no-spill pets’ drinking device is among items invented by the students.(ABC Riverland: Sophie Landau)

No spilling for pets

Meanwhile, Nardia Gilles’ group wanted to create a way to reduce water waste while feeding their pets.

The invention is contoured to the floor to avoid tipping over, and has a button-and-release system that squirts water up into the air for the dog to drink.

“The leftover water will go in a bowl and the dog will either drink it or it will go through a filter and be re-used,” Nardia said.

Three primary school students stand at the front of a classroom
Students from Berri, Monash, Glossop and Cobdogla Primary Schools present their ideas.(ABC Riverland: Sophie Landau)

The students said they loved learning science at school because it gave them a new way of thinking about the world.

“I really like science, and I’ve had quite a lot of fun,” Amy said.

“I hope the inventions come into the real world because I want to save a lot more water.”

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