Students Design Innovative Solutions in the Singapore Energy Grand Challenge for Youth

The urgency of fighting climate change becomes more apparent every year, and it will be the youth of today who experience its effects most profoundly. Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) wanted to give secondary school students the chance to engage with this critical issue. In March 2020, EMA launched the inaugural Singapore Energy Grand Challenge (Youth) – SEGC (Youth). This challenge theme sparked learners’ imaginations with a creative prompt: “How would your energy-efficient school or neighborhood in Singapore look in 2050?”

Using Minecraft: Education Edition’s immersive environment, students collaborated in teams of two to four to build the energy system they envisioned for Singapore in 2050. They had to develop creative solutions to overcome the energy trilemma—balancing the trade-offs between energy security, competitive prices, and environmental sustainability. Using Minecraft, students exercised their problem-solving and computational thinking skills, all while having fun and learning more about Singapore’s energy landscape.

A total of 92 teams across 29 secondary schools took part in the challenge and showcased their vision for a cleaner and more energy-efficient world. The submissions demonstrated students’ enthusiasm for contributing fresh ideas and taking a more active part in owning, shaping, and acting on our shared energy future. Some of the innovative ideas included public buses powered by both solar and hydrogen, pressure tiles on roads to generate electricity as cars drive by, thermoelectric generators in schools to convert heat flows to electricity, and green paths that reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. After a stiff competition between many incredible entries, three teams emerged as winners of the inaugural SEGC (Youth).

Meet the Winners

Champion: Team Futurae, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)
Team Futurae from Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) clinched the championship with their creative and comprehensive presentation of energy-efficient ideas. Their creations included a diversified power generation strategy and buses driven by a mix of solar and hydrogen energy. One of their key innovations was installing pressure plates on the highway to generate power as vehicles pass by.

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The team had this to share about the challenge:
Our SEGC journey was challenging yet rewarding. Prior to joining the challenge, none of us had played Minecraft before, and we were also unfamiliar with coding. Despite the hard work in building the items in our energy world from scratch, it was worthwhile and something that makes us feel proud after seeing the final product.

After taking part in the challenge, we learned that there is no one silver bullet that would solve global and complex issues such as the energy trilemma. That said, having many solutions that do not work in Singapore’s context is as good as having no solution. We also learned that we do not necessarily have to work in the power industry in order to contribute to a more sustainable energy future. Anyone can play a part in their daily lives. Often, we think we need to have in-depth industry experience before we can make a difference. But so long as we are willing to learn, adapt, and be open to different ideas, we can still make an impact. Think about today, dream, and act for tomorrow.

As we strive to make Singapore a better place for all, we will always remember: It’s our energy story, ours to create.

First Runner-Up: Physicsociety, Bedok Green Secondary School
Special mention goes to the first runner-up, Physicsociety from Bedok Green Secondary School, for their creative video delivery and impressive Minecraft world. They focused on systemic urban solutions related to transportation and green infrastructure, including maglev trains and plant-based water filtration.

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In their own words:
We joined this Challenge with the hope of being able to contribute our ideas to help shape Singapore’s energy future. When building our energy-efficient world, we were initially worried that we might not be able to meet the deadlines, since we were juggling between this project and our school examinations. But we encouraged one another along to get the tasks done, and we were glad that our strong camaraderie allowed us to eventually finish building a world we are proud of for the challenge.

Through this experience, we have gained a deeper understanding of Singapore’s Energy Story and had fun exploring different, innovative, energy-efficient ideas. It was indeed a gratifying experience for the team as we learned and grew as individuals.

Second Runner-Up: Lightning Prodigies, St. Hilda’s Secondary School
The Lightning Prodigies from St. Hilda’s Secondary School carefully balanced the needs of energy security, costs, and sustainability in a magnificently designed school. Many of their ideas centered on energy-efficient and aesthetic design elements like green facades and energy-harvesting solar windows.

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They reflected on their experience during the challenge:
The thought of using Minecraft: Education Edition to put our vision of a future energy-efficient school excited us. It put our critical thinking skills to the test because we needed to consider implications and trade-offs to come up with new and innovative ideas.

The experience of building the energy-efficient school virtually has been a refreshing one. In the process of building our energy world, we learned how Singapore is changing the way it produces and uses energy, as well as the current limitations for harnessing energy.

One of our key takeaways from participating in the challenge is that we are now all more careful about how we use energy and make a point of saving it where we can. Learning more about Singapore’s Energy Story and the energy trilemma that we need to manage has also inspired us to contribute more actively to making Singapore more sustainable for everyone.

The challenge submissions clearly demonstrated that this generation of students is active and engaged in developing solutions for the climate crisis. With their passion and innovation at work, they’re certain to come up with new ideas to tackle one of our world’s most pressing challenges.

At the virtual SEGC (Youth) award ceremony, Singapore’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth Low Yen Ling shared her excitement at seeing what these learners accomplished:
As our energy sector evolves toward a cleaner and more sustainable future, we are looking to our young generation to co-create ideas and solutions with the government and other stakeholders. I am heartened by the encouraging response from our youths in this inaugural edition of the SEGC (Youth). The winning entries demonstrate the students’ depth of understanding about our energy landscape and capture their hopes for a sustainable Singapore. Their participation bodes well as we see youths taking a more active part to own, shape, and act on our shared future. We look forward to more fresh and innovative ideas in the following editions to come.

You can learn more about the challenge from the Energy Market Authority’s media release: “Three School Teams Emerge Winners for Inaugural Singapore Energy Grand Challenge (Youth) 2020.”

To explore more ideas about energy with your students, try these lessons on urban sustainability and power generation. If you’re new to Minecraft: Education Edition, get started here.