From smart plant-watering systems to coconut powered lamps, 10 innovative solutions to the food-water-energy nexus issues were feted at this year's first NXplorers: The Bright Ideas Challenge 2019 (NX:TBIC) held last November 29 at the Ayala Mind Museum.

Nxplorers is a global education of Shell, introduced to the Philippines in 2019 to involve the youth in addressing the food-water-energy nexus issues. The systems that provide access to the three critical resources are tightly interlinked, water generates power; energy treats and transports water; and both water and energy are needed to produce food.

 “Young people today are vital to ensuring the security of these resources tomorrow,” said Cesar Romero, Shell Companies in the Philippines’ country chairman. “At Shell, we believe that by teaching the youth how to critically identify and solve problems, they will be better equipped as future leaders and positive agents of change.”

With an increasing global population, the pressure to maintain stable supplies of food, water, and energy will grow. The nexus highlights a need to better understand the relationships between these resources in order to promote effective collaboration between policy makers and industry leaders.

Through a series of workshops, participants learn to explore the relationships found in the nexus, imagine how changes can affect these systems, and are then challenged to create innovative solutions that protect and maximize resources.

Winning teams

Oriental Mindoro National High School’s Team NX-US won the grand prize for creating a smart watering system that detects soil moisture content and sends users a text message with crop data.

In first place came Gusa Regional Science High School’s Team Marigold, who designed a handheld generator that produces energy by utilizing heat difference through the Seebeck effect.

Second place was taken by Philippine Science High School Cagayan Valley’s Team Agribon, who built a drone that can water and spray crops with fertilizer.

Team NX-US took home P100,000, while first place’s Team Marigold and second place Team Agribon took home P70,000 and P50,000 respectively.

Additionally, Bansud Regional Science High School’s Team Antipara and Ramon Teves Pastor Memorial Dumaguete Science High School’s Team A-Team both won merit awards of P20,000.

The other remaining five schools were awarded P10,000 for reaching the final 10, while Team NX-US also won the people’s choice award of an additional P5,000 for winning the popular vote on the competition's online platform.

Equivalent prize money was also given to their schools’ respective STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) funding so that students have increased access to facilities and other resources that will promote better learning.

“Innovative problem-solving needs a good understanding of how change happens,” said Romero. “Shell supports the development of local STEM education, because it will help the youth learn the creative and critical thinking skills needed to envision the future.”

NXplorers is a program that teaches a combination of systems thinking, scenario planning, and a theory of change methodology as a way of showing the youth how to understand and address increasingly complex global problems. It empowers young people to become agents of change by providing them the tools and skills to tackle real world problems.

“This program has shown that we can engage the youth to generate ideas,” added Romero. “Young Filipino’s have so much potential to create positive change for the country, even outside NXplorers.”

For the last 105 years of its operations in the Philippines, Pilipinas Shell has remained committed to the country’s development. As a partner in nation building, the company aims to help spur the development of local STEM education to make the future of the youth.

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