In 2020, we held the inaugural People’s Choice Award as part of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize. For the first time ever the general public could vote for their favorite project. We spoke to the winners, Adittya and Khaled who represented Bangladesh. They told us how they came up with their project, the support they received and share some words of encouragement and advice with this year’s finalists.
Your project focused on solving the issue of water being too dirty. How did you identify the problem?
Bangladesh is a huge delta, we looked at our country which should have an abundance of water, and asked what problems do we face? For example, 60% of population doesn’t have clean drinking water. We saw the issues with current provision of drinking water and decided to focus on that.
What made you confident in your solution?
We have been participating and winning multiple school competitions where we have competed against the best students in our city this gave us a boost in our confidence. We were lucky to have support of our school: we asked them questions as much as possible and they gave us a lot of answers, so our confidence grew.
We believed our idea. We approached it thinking – let us use components that are available to anyone. We choose for example moringa, a household product. These are easily available and people will know how to use them.
How does it feel to be the first ever winner’s of the People’s Choice Award, one year on?
We were very fortunate to have the support of people living here at Bangladesh and abroad who believed in our project. The shares eventually even reached influencers. We have the support of the house of volunteers and SJWP committee helped us a lot, they helped us with a template to present our idea and shared it among a network of schools.
The people’s choice award was the first time one of our projects got support beyond our school: but from the whole country. And approval from people not only from a scientific background. It gave us confidence to continue with science, and boosted our credentials when applying for university.
There is no better feeling than winning on behalf of your country. What helped us even more than the award, was the opportunity to collaborate with some of the country’s leading professors.
If you could give one piece of advice to people thinking about entering SJWP?
It’s important to believe in your project. Make sure you go the extra mile when presenting the project.
Don’t worry about the pressure of winning an award, or the time it takes – just do it. The experience you get working on this project, the skills gained, the network you get was massive. Do everything you can to make the project stand out. Your project could potentially help and save billions of lives – so keep going.
Good luck to everyone! The experience is what mattered: your ideas will potentially save lives. So we congratulate every one of you for being able to research and for getting through to the international competition.