AQUALIBRIUM: SAICE-WRC Schools Water Competition 2013
The finals of AQUALIBRIUM, the SAICE-WRC Schools Water Competition 2013 will be held:
Date Friday 16 August 2013
Venue Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
Miriam Makeba Street
As in previous years, teams will arrive at the Executive Hotel in Midrand the day before the finals, i.e. Thursday 15 August by 17:00, and as in the past, they will be accommodated at:
The Executive Hotel
31 Gallagher Avenue
The finals of AQUALIBRIUM, the exciting SAICE-WRC Schools Water Schools Competition 2013 will be held at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg on Friday 16 August 2013. This worthwhile competition never fails to excite the teams, spectators and everybody involved!
This year AQUALIBRIUM had the honour of being chosen as one of four finalists in the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) and BHP Billiton Awards, the oldest and most prestigious in South Africa, in the category where an individual or team is recognised for their outstanding contribution to science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) through science communication and through creating science awareness.. The standard is extremely high – this year only twelve awards were made across the science, engineering and technology spectrum. Making it to the NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards as a finalist is therefore an exceptional achievement. The SAICE team comprises Prof Kobus van Zyl from UCT, Marie Ashpole and Fridah Mahlangu from SAICE National Office.
This year the winners of the regional competitions come to Johannesburg from as far as Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Buffalo City (East London), Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth), Kimberley and Mafikeng, to battle the local winners for top honours. Many of the teams are flown to Johannesburg and accommodated in a good hotel - an experience that these young people and some of the educators will never forget! For most, this is a first experience of the ‘big city’. Without the major sponsorship of the Water Research Commission (WRC), Marley PipeSystems, SMEC/VelaVKE, the Water Institute of Southern Africa, Prentec and Bigen Africa, this event would of course, not be possible.
The 2012 champions with 160 penalty points conceded were the all-girls team from the Domino Servite School in Pietermaritzburg – they were in the second place in 2011! In the second place was the Steelcrest High School from Middelburg, Mpumalanga, with 180 penalty points. Hoërskool Grens from East London (Buffalo City) was in the third spot was the with 315 penalty points. They shared the prize-money of just more than R17 000-00.
As a direct result of this competition there are presently three students studying civil engineering. These young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are determined to go MAD, i.e. Make A Difference in their communities. We just have to continue with these kinds of projects in order to make a difference to the scarce skills situation and the lives of many people!
Both the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and Rand Water celebrated a hundred years of existence in 2003 and as part of their centenary celebrations they launched this joint competition for high school learners devised by Professor Kobus van Zyl and students from the University of Johannesburg. Since then the competition had been streamlined and has gained momentum in application, such as team building and demonstrations on ‘technovation’ days!
Water distribution networks
Water distribution systems are important to supply safe and clean drinking water to people. The teams are tasked to design a model water distribution network to distribute three litres of water equally between three points on the grid using two different diameter pipes and connection pieces. They are then judged on how well they execute the task – working on a penalty points system. They have a period of about an hour in which to design, build and operate their network. This competition exposes learners to the practical application of processes that influence their daily lives, which is how water gets to their homes. They are made aware of the intricacies involved in the design of water distribution networks and the actual water delivery to households.
As part of the competition the water cycle is explained to the learners. Issues such as why we have to pay for water, explaining the building of dams, distribution of water through water boards to municipalities and then to users, as well as the conservation of our water resources are discussed.
The grid used for the water distribution network is on a background that depicts the entire water cycle. It intrigues learners, as well as educators, who find it a very helpful educational tool.
The competition creates awareness regarding the issues surrounding water in South Africa. It spreads the message that water is a precious commodity, the use of which should be reduced, recycled, re-used, respected and conserved. Through this competition SAICE and the WRC, the current major sponsor, took the responsibility of spreading the news that water should be used wisely, that infrastructure should be maintained and that new infrastructure should be created to provide potable water to those without water.
This competition strengthens government’s initiatives aimed at encouraging learners to take Mathematics and Science at school and to follow a career as a science or civil engineering professional. Only in this way can we assure that the quality of life of all South Africans will be better in future!
Concentration is the name of the game.
Many students have already decided to follow a career in civil engineering or in the water field because of this competition.
Presently three students are busy studying civil engineering (one third-year and two second-years) because of this competition.
All three are from the very disadvantaged Phomolong Secondary School in Tembisa.