BT Young Pioneer Award winners

The Water Works team: Alex, Elye, Atticus and Saul, creators of the Water Watcher, share their journey which led them to win the Tech4Good BT Young Pioneer Award 2018.

I am Elye Cuthbertson (14) and I have spent the last year working with Saul Cuthbertson (10), Alex Lynch (16) and Atticus Ticheli (13). We came together as a team in September, for a competition called FIRST LEGO League. As part of this competition teams are tasked to identify a problem (this year to do with water) and create an innovative solution. We picked the problem of people – especially people who are particularly forgetful – forgetting to turn the tap off, wasting water and risking flooding.

We used the BBC micro:bit to create our solution: a simple alarm system to remind people to turn the tap off. Called Water Watcher, this user-friendly item simply straps onto the faucet of any tap. It contains a small accurate vibration sensor, and is encased in silicone to make it adjustable and waterproof. It contains an alarm which sounds after a pre-set period of time if the water is left running. We made a prototype of this innovation using the BBC micro:bit with its in built accelerometer which was perfect to sense the vibration of the water through the tap. We also used a small speaker for the alarm which we connected to the BBC micro:bit.

Back in January 2018, we competed in our London regional tournament for FIRST LEGO League. After getting some very positive feedback about our prototype, we won the champion’s award, and a place in the UK and Ireland finals! We then had a month to further develop our product the Water Watcher and the prototype before the next stage in Bristol. After having a fantastic time there, we won an award for our product, and bagged a place in a FIRST LEGO League international competition in Tallinn, Estonia! After competing there in June, it came as less of a surprise this time when we again won an award for our Water Watcher. At each of these competitions, we were able to show judges a working model of our idea by using the BBC micro:bit prototype we had made.

We also took our idea to a company that makes water saving products to get feedback from professionals. We were able to show them what our final product would be like using our BBC micro:bit prototype. They really liked our idea and told us they want to take it forward and actually make it! This was very exciting!

In July 2018 we were named winners in the Young Pioneer category of the Tech4Good awards for the Water Watcher innovation. Attending the awards ceremony and being awarded that prize among such an inspiring group of finalists was amazing!

Being able to show “proof of concept” at every stage by using the BBC micro:bit prototype we had created and programmed, everyone we shared our idea with was able to fully understand our solution and see the potential that it has.

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