Tackling climate change with education: “Destination Zero Carbon” goes global

As much as our climate change challenge is world-scale, so are the opportunities to build new industries that respond with innovative solutions to decrease or eliminate our carbon footprint. As entire nations work to reinvent themselves into the 21st century, fostering new generations of highly skilled scientists and engineers is now critically important for both the economy and the environment. This issue has now also become strategic to the future competitiveness of several western countries, including the United States, where only about 5 per cent of US bachelor’s degrees are in engineering, compared to an average of 20 per cent in Asia and a total of around 33 per cent in China.

Two innovative Singaporean companies, 3D Classworks and Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies have come together with the aim to provide a solution named Destination Zero Carbon fit for adoption in schools worldwide. Their solution aims to inspire young people everywhere to become future low carbon science and technology leaders, and engage them in design, engineering and competitive programs that build engineering skills, technology awareness, and produce innovation.

Developing the next innovators is a critical enabler in achieving our ambitious carbon emission reduction targets in the future. If every student in the world was exposed to the issues and if the interest in these could energize and sustain their transformation as building blocks for technological solutions, a much larger and stronger innovator community could grow beyond what exists today. The architects of the solution hope to enable new skills development, new jobs, and a nesting ground for new industries into the 21st century.

Created as a ready to go and modular classroom-based program, Destination Zero Carbon is a multi-disciplinary Science STEM solution that adapts to diverse national science curricula. Subjects covered range from Science to Mathematics, Earth Science, Design, and Hands-on Technology Education. The availability of dramatically lower cost 2D or 3D printing tools, combined with student packs of Solidworks 3D CAD software, student teams can go through a real product development cycle within a classroom setting. Add the dimension of miniaturized zero emissions technologies and now young students can build their own hydrogen-powered vehicles, and have them compete against one another.

“We have created the ultimate viral STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education solution able to spread interest for low carbon engineering and science, a key starting point for new industries to form across many nations and communities”, said Kunhimohamed Naduvanchery, CEO of 3DClassworks. “Our program is scalable and was successfully tested in Singapore, from where we are now starting to adapt the solution to other countries with specialized in-country localization partners.

Destination Zero Carbon was developed in multi-cultural Singapore, taking many regional and national factors into consideration. In densely populated Asia, competition for top grades is fierce and starts at a very early age. With curriculum-integrated lesson plans, these can easily be accepted across Asia as a way to help improve student scores. Destination Zero Carbon had its first pilot in Singapore last year involving over 500 local students. The program is expected to involve 100 schools in Singapore during 2012 and is currently preparing to start in South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, India and the Middle East.

In the United States, the program is expected to be of strategic importance. Recent international indicators placed American students near the bottom of Western nations for STEM achievement, forming what many call a STEM crisis. Today only 4.5 per cent of US college graduates are engineers. For the country to successfully compete globally on innovation and reduce its $14 trillion debt, it must urgently bring its 12 year-olds back into the science lab. For make science attractive to students, Destination Zero Carbon connects theoretical science concepts to every day reality and concrete objects. Classroom activities end with a design, fabricate, and racing event for self-built zero emission cars. Student teams must learn core mission-critical physics and engineering concepts in order to win. The program is launching in the U.S. through Ten80 Education, developers of the Student Racing Challenge, a NASCAR STEM Initiative that has the support of several important organizations including The United States Army.

Emerging economies such as South Africa, India, and Brazil all have unsustainable energy demand that require innovation and an urgent implementation of new low carbon technologies. Destination Zero Carbon made its debut on the African continent in partnership with Young Engineers and Scientists of Africa (YESA) at the recent South African National Science Festival. Making this possible in countries such as South Africa, meant partnering with open-access and community-based Fabrication Laboratories (FabLabs). South Africa has a total of six FabLabs, which help level the STEM playing field by providing free access to the tools and skills for digital manufacturing. They are seen as the point of departure to be able to reach 1,000,000 South African students participating in the program within a few years. Young Engineers and Scientists of Africa (YESA) is also a dissemination channel to young students throughout 20 other countries in Africa.

This initiative is also rallying support in European countries, including a program involving London schools, which is backed the London Mayor’s office. This can enable more individuals, including unemployed youth, to make a meaningful contribution in an innovation economy.

For more information or to sign up for the program, visit www.destinationzerocarbon.org

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ABOUT 3DCLASSWORKS www.3dclassworks.com

3DCLASSWORKS is a Singapore based company that is focused on developing and implementing education programs that promote engineering literacy into classrooms for schools and tertiary institutions. Our vision is to be a world leading developer and provider of innovative educational training programs in maths, science, design and engineering. Our mission is to mould students into becoming imagineers of tomorrow, and prepare pupils with a dynamic learning mindset, accustomed to the latest technological know-how in order to live and work as effective global participants in this fast-moving technological age.

ABOUT Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies Pte. Ltd. www.horizonfuelcell.com

Headquartered in Singapore, Horizon’s overall vision is a zero carbon society with hydrogen as a clean energy carrier and future fuel. Starting on a miniature scale, the company has begun enabling a number of zero emission fuel cell solutions across 35 countries simultaneously. Their solutions include electrical energy storage and distributed power generation, as well as novel infrastructure solutions for hydrogen. Horizon’s end-goal is to make self-refueling capability a reality for every-day electric powered applications ranging from portable electronics to real-size vehicles. Although today’s implementations are still in the infancy stage, one of Horizon’s envisioned zero carbon solutions include using organic waste and hydrogen-producing bacteria as a hydrogen feedstock for home-based or community-based hydrogen car refueling.

ABOUT Ten80 Education (USA) http://www.studentracingchallenge.com

Ten80 Education is a team of engineers, scientists, teachers, professors and parents all dedicated to a single mission. We have joined forces to help students and teachers understand STEM subjects, STEM careers and how they affect the world around us. Ten80 partners include school districts and Universities around the United States, Texas Instruments, SolidWorks, NASCAR, Sargent-Welch, and the North Carolina Motorsports Association; all entities that share the same, progressive vision for education. The Ten80 Team offers dynamic professional development and streamlined K-12 supplementary curriculum that can be incorporated directly into our current assessment and instructional plans.  As you’ve requested solutions, we’ve developed programs and materials to deliver results.

ABOUT Young Engineers & Scientists of Africa (YESA) http://yesa.org.za/web1/

The Young Engineers and Scientists of Africa (YESA) is an initiative aimed at increasing the pipeline Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI). YESA interventions operate from Grades 0-12 and are designed to supplement the national curriculum in a stimulating and challenging environment to promote creativity and innovation. All interventions are aimed at addressing the gaps in the developmental stages of providing support to learners through a broad range of activities.

Key partners include the Department for Science & Technology of the Republic of South Africa, the Meraka Institute, and FabLabs South Africa,.

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