AQUALIBRIUM – changing learners’ lives one water competition at a time!

The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) has just had their 13th annual Schools Water Competition. What started as a South African competition where learners had to design, build and operate a water distribution system, exactly the same way qualified civil engineers would do in a municipality, has over the past two years become international with Swaziland and Zimbabwe also participating.

Very few interventions or career days have the advantage of practically illustrating what a career is all about. The finals of AQUALIBRIUM, the SAICE Schools Water Competition 2016, took place at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg on Friday 29 July 2016. This is an adventure that everybody remembers once they had been there to experience the excitement first-hand!

Finals

The 2016 winners, for the second consecutive year, was Hoërskool Diamantveld from Kimberley with team members Paul Henri, Zander Boshoff and Alecia Brits, with only 19 penalty points. The second place went to Hoërskool Oos-Moot in Pretoria, with team members Stefan Beukes, Ruhan Potgieter and WP Struweg with 30 penalty points. In the joint third spot was the Fundukuwela High School team from Swaziland and Domino Servite School from Pietermaritzburg with 40 penalty points. The Swaziland team consisted of Sanele Malindza, Buhle Malinga and Bonsile Msibi, and Domino Servite’s team was Ndumiso Dumakude, Sphesile Nzama and Sehliselwe Hlonga. In total the winners shared prize-money of more than R23 000-00.

Regional winners came from as far as Bloemfontein, East London, Harrismith, Kimberley, Malmesbury, Pietermaritzburg, and Richards Bay, to combat the teams from Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as the national winning team from Swaziland and Zimbabwe! Many of the teams were flown to Johannesburg and accommodated in a four-star hotel ― an experience that these young people, and some of the educators will never forget! For most, this was a first encounter with the ‘big city’. Without the sponsorships of Rand Water, AECOM, the Water Research Commission, Mhlatuze Water, Bosch Stemele, EWSETA and DPI Plastics, this would not have been possible.

This competition affords learners the opportunity of planning, designing, constructing and operating a water distribution network and they encounter all the same challenges that occur in real-life situations!

The 2015 finalists’ team from the Winnie Mandela Secondary School in Ivory Park, Midrand, are all (three) currently studying civil engineering at the University of Pretoria! Phomolong Secondary School in Tembisa, a really disadvantaged school where 80% of parents are jobless, has already delivered four civil engineers from the Universities of Cape Town and WITS! Currently the three winners of 2014 are studying civil engineering at the University of Stellenbosch – because of this competition! How does one put a value to a competition that has led to so many learners, especially from rural areas and townships, studying civil engineering and which, at the same time, makes a difference to the priority scarce skills situation and the lives of many people!

 

The competition

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. The teams have a period of about an hour in which to plan, 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.
The grid used for the water distribution network is on a background that depicts the entire water cycle with all the major impacts affecting this scarce resource. This grid intrigues learners, as well as educators, who find it a very useful educational tool.

The competition creates awareness regarding the issues surrounding water in South Africa. It spreads the message that water is a precious commodity, which should be recycled, re-used and respected, while the use of water should be reduced. Through this annual competition SAICE takes the responsibility of spreading the news that water should be used wisely, that infrastructure should be maintained and that new infrastructure should be developed to provide potable water to all in South Africa.

In two consecutive years (2012/13 and 2013/14) the AQUALIBRIUM initiative had the honour of being chosen as one of four finalists in the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) 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.

AQUALIBRIUM 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 practitioner. Only in this way can we assure that the quality of life of all South Africans will be better in future!

WATER RESEARCH COMMISIION
RAND WATER
MHLATHUZE WATER – AMANZI
BOSCH PROJECTS
AECOM

SANRAL & SAICE drives the development behind young engineering minds

Framseby High School learners, from left, Juandre Gilbert, Donovan Jerling and Philip du Plessis, were crowned the winners of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) Algoa Branch Aqualibrium Water competition, in Port Elizabeth, this weekend.  The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) and Labco supported the event. 

Port Elizabeth, 31 March 2017: Framesby High School in Port Elizabeth was crowned the winner of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) Algoa Branch Aqualibrium Water competition, earlier this month.  The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) and Labco supported the event.

Framesby High learners Donovan Jerling, Juandre Gilbert and Philip du Plessis will compete in the SAICE 14th annual Schools Water Competition, in July in Johannesburg.

SAICE hosted the one-day competition at SANRAL’s offices on Saturday (25 March) to afford learners the opportunity of planning, designing, constructing and operating a water distribution network, whereby they encounter similar challenges that occur in managing an actual water distribution network of a town.

“This competition demonstrates the importance of managing water distribution systems which are important to supply safe and clean drinking water to people. It also exposes the learners to the field of Civil Engineering and provides a glimpse into why Civil Engineers play a critical part in our infrastructure management,” said Pieter Joubert, SAICE Algoa branch chairman.

The participating schools included Framesby High School, Alexander Road High, Loyiso Senior Secondary, Mfesane Senior Secondary School, Newton Technical High school, Pearson High School all from Port Elizabeth and Brandwag High School from Uitenhage.

SANRAL Southern Region’s Marketing and Communications manager, Michelle Ah Shene said participating in SAICE events is an extension of SANRAL’S commitment to the development of the civil engineering field.

Ah Shene said SANRAL promotes the importance of civil engineering through supporting projects like the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) School of Engineering STEM Pipeline Project, bursary and scholarships and training civil engineering graduates in the SANRAL Southern Region Training Academy.

Saturday’s competing teams were 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 various connection pieces. They were then judged on how well they executed the task – working on a penalty points system.

The teams had approximately one hour in which to plan, design, build and operate their network.

What started as a South African competition where learners had to design, build and operate a water distribution system, exactly the same way qualified Civil Engineers would do in a municipality, has over the past three years become international with Swaziland and Zimbabwe also participating in the national SAICE competition.

“This is an adventure that all learners remember once they had been there to experience the challenge first-hand,” Joubert said.

“This competition exposes learners to the processes which influence their daily lives and is often taken for granted, such as providing water supply to homes. They are made aware of the intricacies involved in the design of water distribution networks and the actual water delivery to households,” Joubert added.

Joubert explained that the grid used for the water distribution network is on a background that depicts the water cycle with all the major impacts affecting this scarce resource. This grid intrigues learners, as well as educators, who find it a very useful educational tool.

The competition creates awareness regarding the issues surrounding water in South Africa. It spreads the message that water is a precious commodity, which should be recycled, re-used and respected. Through this annual competition SAICE takes the responsibility of spreading the news that water should be used wisely, that infrastructure should be maintained and that new infrastructure should be developed to provide potable water to all in South Africa.

Juandre Gilbert of Framesby High School said he enjoyed participating in the competition. “It was extremely fun to do the experiment. When we arrived here we had no idea what to expect and what to do. We can go back to school and share what we have learned with fellow classmates.”

Steyn Williams of Brandwag High School said he was happy to have participated in the competition. “I am glad to be here. This was quite a learning experience.”

Morgan Moss of Alexander Road High School, who was the only learner representing his school won second place. “This was exciting. I was nervous because I was not sure if they would let me participate because I was alone from my school and the competition entries call for a 3-member team. Maths and science are my favourite subjects. I also enjoy doing experiments and building things.”

Brandwag High Grade 9 to Grade 12 Science teacher, Peter Baxter, said the children enjoyed participating in the competition. “This was exciting and challenging for them.  They looked forward to this experiment.”

Baxter also added that some learners from Brandwag High also participated in the SANRAL and STEM PP projects.

Loyiso Senior Secondary Tarisai Seven, a Grade 8 and Grade 9 Science and Technology teacher said the school had two teams participate during the competition.

“Competitions like this one is very important to open the minds of the learners. Today was important for the learners who gained knowledge about the working of water systems. At school there are not many experiments that take place because resources at the school are little.”

http://www.nationalasphalt.co.za/