Pretoria, South Africa, 23 June 2017 – More than 30 senior primary school students from Pretoria, South Africa, participated in the #SaveOurOcean competition organized this month by the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in partnership with Greenpeace Africa, an advocacy group, in an effort to raise awareness about the current situation facing the world’s oceans.
The competition, held at Centurion Montessori School, was divided into two segments. The first consisted of briefings to students by UNIC and Greenpeace Africa officials on the state of the world’s oceans. The second segment was an evaluation by a panel of judges of the students’ artwork to demonstrate their understanding of the state of the oceans and to suggest possible solutions. Some of the information on which the students were briefed included threats to plant and marine life, the impact of oil spills, plastic pollution and over fishing.
The competition organizers gave the students a week to complete their artwork, working individually or in groups under the guidance of a school teacher. The evaluation of the artwork was based on the thoughtfulness and attractiveness of the presentations, the level of creativity, an understanding of the subject matter and finally the originality of possible solutions to #SaveOurOcean.
The enthusiasm of the students on the day of judging the artwork was incredible. Many couldn’t wait to showcase their artwork and creative projects, with some going the extra mile by producing short video clips, PowerPoint presentations, posters and art collages. The three judges, who included UNIC staff and a school teacher, were hard-pressed to decide on just three winners from the 12 groups.
Science and technology played a key role in many of the creative solutions that the students suggested as ways to protect and clean up the oceans. These included recruiting “ocean police” to prevent over-fishing and pollution; ensuring broken nets are not left in the ocean to prevent ensnaring fish; designing solar panel for boats used for oil rigging to prevent fuel from leaking into the sea, inventing boats to clean up oceans through the use of special pipe structures.
Students used slimy substances, oil and various other ingredients to illustrate how water is contaminated and its effect on marine life. They showed vivid graphic images on slide presentations of birds and other species dying from consuming plastics. Others suggested creating jobs by employing people to clean up the beaches and protect fish from mistaking harmful substances for food. Several groups highlighted the role they could play as individuals, including the use of recyclable bags for shopping, eating sustainable fish and using rubbish bins at beaches.