Six pupils from Diocesan School for Girls and St Andrews College in Grahamstown flew the South African flag high when they came top in various categories during the the Water is Life conference in Tokyo, Japan recently.
Hosted by the Shibuya and Makuhari Senior High schools in Shibuya, Japan, from July 21 to 31, the purpose of the international conference was to bring high school pupils together from around the world to discuss and solve the current and future problems relating to world water crises.
Grade 11 DSG pupils Lauren Poole, Jules Murray, Mandie Gambiza, Lucy Schlebusch and Laaiba Anjum, and St Andrews pupil Euan Stokes were the only pupils representing the African continent against 43 invited teams from other countries including the USA, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria and Brazil.
Each team had to present a scientific investigation on the topic, “Local Water Crises”, in front of 500 people. The South African team presented a project on the effects of natural, bio-absorbent substances on the removal of heavy metals.
The six received three prestigious awards:
● The Toyota Challenge Award, which was awarded to the team that had the best solution to their local challenges;
● The African Society of Japan Award, which was given to the team for coming up with the best solution to benefit the African water crisis; and
● They walked away with the gold medals in the Engineering and Technology category.
The conference consisted of poster and oral presentations to international guests and the public, and cultural activities and general discussions with other international students regarding water crises.
Poole and Schlebusch thanked DSG teacher Clinton York who accompanied the team, handled all the admin and provided constant support.
“The experience would not have been the same without him. We would also like to thank Dr Ingrid Foster for her constant guidance and input over the last 18 months.
“A lot of the success can be credited to her. And thanks to Mr Jacques Pienaar, for arranging the attendance of our schools at this conference over the last four years,” said Poole.
Murray said Tokyo had met her high expectations.
“Although we were there to attend the Water is Life conference, it didn’t stop us from experiencing the city and all of its hidden treasures. Tokyo has been able to keep its traditions, while still becoming more and more developed and technological. I believe that is a section where every country could take a few notes,” she said.
The six pupils were hosted by Japanese families who accommodated them during the conference.
“This was a real honour,” said Poole.
The next Water is Life conference will be in Florida, USA in 2020.