Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Small people, big ideas: kids win award for flood solution

The winning group of 11-year-olds pose upon arriving at Phnom Penh airport
The winning group of 11-year-olds pose upon arriving at Phnom Penh airport. Charlotte Pert

Small people, big ideas: kids win award for flood solution

Cambodia suffers from severe annual flooding, and many people who can’t swim die every year as a result. An innovative solution to the generations-old problem may have been found, not by policy hacks or scientists, but by children.

A group of 11-year-olds from Cambodia’s one-of-a-kind Liger Learning Centre were recognised for their achievement at a robotics and problem-solving competition in Singapore over the weekend.

At the regional First Lego League competition – a global program designed to get children excited about science and technology – the team of six walked away with second place in the research innovations category.

They also scored a “rising stars” nod from the judges, who rewarded the creative thinking behind their solution, which was thought up during a special robotics project.

“In 2013, 188 people died from drowning and 88 of them were children, so our mission was to make natural swimming pools to teach people how to swim,” 11-year-old Ketya said.

The problem is that swimming pools are very expensive, his team realised. A cheap solution had to be found.

“[Our idea] is to plant water hyacinth plants [around it] because it is free and there is a lot in Cambodia.… It’s safe because it won’t be chlorinated and the plants will [naturally] filter and clean the water,” Ketya added.

The competition’s theme this year was natural disasters and involved programming and navigating robots around a model “disaster” table to simulate recovery efforts.

While the Liger team did not win a medal in this section, the students said they were not disappointed. The opportunity to travel to Singapore, work together and compete with much more experienced students was the real draw.

Ketya said: “I feel very excited and very happy. Because [there are] many other teams [and] some are 15 years old and I am 11 so I [did not] think I would not get any award because they are very big.”

The Liger school, whose latest batch of 50 students enrolled last year and has been awarded full scholarships for a unique education after being selected from around the country, aims to mould the next generation of Cambodian business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“The competition is about actually looking at real world problems, and at Liger our main goal is to teach kids how to problem solve and come up with creative solutions . . . [so] we couldn’t be happier to have won a prize for innovative solutions,” said Maxwell Cady, the teacher who runs the robotics project.

The group of pre-teens, who returned triumphantly to their peers on Monday, will be bringing home ideas more befitting of scientists or engineers than primary school students. And one or two simpler stories to share.

“[The trip] is very good but when [we] fly on the plane it was a little bit scary because the plane was flying up and down!” Srey Nith, 11, said with a giggle.

0

Comments

Please, login or register to post a comment

Latest Video

Rainsy after the deadlock

Rainsy after the deadlock

For almost one year Sam Rainsy and his party refused to take their seats in parliament, despite winning the most seats in last year's election that he has since leaving the government.

Sochua free

Deadlock broken, CNRP pols released

The longest parliamentary impasse in Cambodian history looks to have ended with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party agreeing to take their seats in parliament exchange for political concessions from the gove

This month 20 years ago...

1994-06-30 20:00
Refugees return to mines, destruction
1994-06-30 20:00
Exporters cash in on GSP
1994-07-14 20:00
NGOs debate over use of armed guards
1994-06-30 20:00
Car-washing industry lures rural poor
1994-06-30 20:00
CIA says RAC deal is in air
1994-07-14 20:00
Penpals sought