An end to plant watering woes

Trio with a mission: (from left) Warren, Andi Fazirah and Vannie have devised a solution for fuss-free plant watering.

PLANT watering may be a simple task but as some home gardeners like Vannie Verus can attest to, it can be difficult to keep a consistent schedule.

It is on that premise that Vannie and her teammates Warren Junior Patin and Andi Fazirah Usman started their project, which has been accepted as an entry for a regional hackathon involving 15 teams from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Named Haquathon 2.0 (H20), the competition – which will reward five winning teams with a grant worth US$2,000 (RM8,204) – challenges participants to search for solutions tackling issues related to coastal and marine sustainability.

The trio from Keningau Vocational College, Sabah, came up with a device they named “Mechanical Water Veins” as a solution to the plant watering dilemma.

“It comprises several components that allow it to be automatically activated and deactivated. It also reduces water waste by optimising the amount of water used, ” said Andi Fazirah.

In addition, their device channels water directly to the soil surrounding the roots of the plants, and reuses wastewater runoff from sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers, said the college in a press release.

“This technique can be replicated and scaled up so that the concept can be widely applied in a large garden or farmland.

“The team’s main purpose is to conserve the usage of water, especially in urbanised areas, which is consistent with the concept of innovation known as e-STEM (environment, science, technology, engineering and mathematics), ” it added.

Keningau Vocational College director Johari@Jaibet Sabin lauded the electrical technology students’ effort in putting their skills to practice by developing a project that can help tackle environmental issues.

He hoped that more students will explore real-world problems and design solutions to address them.

Having presented their idea and prototype, the 20-year-olds will join the other participants in a series of virtual workshops on citizen engagement, communications for social change, data science, business models and more, to improve their tech-based solutions.

These workshops, held between April and this month, include online mentorship sessions with marine and tech experts from the Asean region.

Next month, the participants will move on to the next phase, which involves pitching for project funding to further develop and implement their activities.

Speaking to StarEdu, the team from Keningau Vocational College said they hope to gain insights into how to improve their project at the virtual workshops.

“If we win the funding, we’ll continue experimenting with the project to come up with a high-quality device, ” said Vannie.

They also expressed their gratitude to their lecturers, Mohd Sirhajwan Idek and Haini Kotin, for their support.

“We knew about this contest from Mr Sirhajwan. I hope more youths will be involved in programmes like this, ” said Warren, adding that H20 is the trio’s first foray into hackathons and regional competitions.

Mohd Sirhajwan, who heads the research and innovation programmes at the college, said through their participation, he hopes more students will be aware of hackathons, which are common in universities but not at the school level.

“Unlike most innovation contests, hackathons have their own formats that can really help participants get the most through training, mentoring support and experience in pitching their prototypes or proposals, ” he said.

The winning teams will carry out their activities from July to December, while an in-person event for the winning projects will be held early next year.

H20 is a project of Save Philippine Seas, American Spaces Philippines and the United States Embassy in the Philippines. The first Haquathon took place in 2019-2020.

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