Young changemakers make a splash in water sustainability

Student teams from Singapore and Temasek Polytechnics emerge champions in climate change-themed competition by PUB 

A futuristic role-playing game (RPG) where water knowledge saves the day; a stop motion animation to bring the threat of rising sea levels to life and a device that enables users to track their water usage during dish-washing – these were some of the winning creations from students who participated in PUB Splash Lab, an annual competition to engage and empower youths to champion water sustainability. 

With climate change set as the theme for its second edition, PUB Splash Lab challenged students to tackle one of the four challenge statements related to this topic, namely rising temperature, increasing rainfall intensity, dry spells or rising sea levels. Students can choose to ideate and design a physical solution (Innovative Solutions Category) or develop a public movement (Public Campaign Category) to generate interest and spark conversations on water among youths. 

The competition saw overwhelming participation from all five polytechnics for the first time since its inaugural run in 2019, with new contenders from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic. PUB received 70 entries from over 250 students, with ideas ranging from organic biofilters and smart tap attachments to interactive learning packages targeted at school-going children. 

Proposals were assessed on key criteria such as originality, marketability, ease of use and commercialisation. Nine entries were shortlisted for each challenge statement, after which they were put up for public voting on PUB’s Facebook and Instagram pages, which constituted 30% of the overall team scores. A judging panel comprising PUB, Tribal Worldwide (PUB’s appointed creative agency for PUB Splash Lab) and participating polytechnics accounted for the remaining 70% of the assessment scores. 

Following a rigorous selection, voting and judging process, team Quest Saga from Singapore Polytechnic clinched first place for the Innovative Solutions category for their mobile role-playing game (RPG) to encourage families with kids to conserve and save water. Meanwhile, #itstartswithme from Temasek Polytechnic emerged as the champion in the Public Campaign category with their social media movement featuring water-themed Instagram filters and an educational microsite. Both teams walked away with $3,000 in cash prizes each. A total of $18,000 cash prizes were given out to 18 winning teams. 

“Climate change is a multifaceted issue that requires everyone to play a part. Through PUB Splash Lab, I gained a deeper appreciation of the role that PUB plays in safeguarding our water supply and ensuring water sustainability,” said Cai Ying Lim from Quest Saga (Singapore Polytechnic). Eva Wee from #itstartswithme (Temasek Polytechnic) commented that working on the campaign gave them greater impetus to educate their peers on the impact of climate change on Singapore’s water supply. “Now, we feel a greater sense of urgency to practise good water habits and spread the message on water conservation to those around us,” they said. 

“Over the years, we have partnered various stakeholders, including our schools to create a culture where every individual in Singapore values every drop of water, starting at a young age. The growing threat of climate change poses new challenges for Singapore – including water sustainability and rising sea levels – and the theme of our second edition of PUB Splash Lab reflects this. We are heartened to see the quality and diversity of the submissions for this edition, a testament to the creativity and passion of our youths to tackle these challenges,” said Cindy Keng, director, 3P Network Department, PUB. 

The first edition of the PUB Splash Lab was launched in 2019, in partnership with Nanyang Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic, where students can design water-saving products or develop a water conservation campaign. Following positive response and feedback from students and educators, PUB expanded the scope to invite all five polytechnics to be part of the PUB Splash Lab initiative. Applications for the second edition of PUB Splash Lab opened in October 2020 and closed in March 2021.