Polar Quest 2 awards ceremony: And the winner is …

Alain Hubert and the class from the Institut Royal d'Ans, winner of the 2014 Polar Quest contest.

Alain Hubert and the class from the Institut Royal d'Ans, winner of the 2014 Polar Quest contest.

© International Polar Foundation

Suspense and enthusiasm were in the air in Brussels on May 14th during the awards ceremony for the second edition of the Polar Quest contest, which saw secondary school classes from five different schools in Brussels and Wallonia present their creative and unique ideas to improve energy efficiency in their schools for the chance to send one of their teachers to Antarctica! The goal of the project was to raise students’ awareness about energy management by inviting them to explore as a group how to make their school more efficient using the zero emission Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station as a source of inspiration.

Students from participating schools presented their innovative projects with an ample supply of enthusiasm and creativity as members of the contest’s jury, presided by Alain Hubert, sat and listened intently. Due to the high quality of each project presented to them, in addition to selecting a winning school, the jury also recognized each participating school’s achievements with a specific award for an outstanding aspect of their proposals.

For the originality of the technical solutions they developed to manage energy and the fact that they brought examples of many solutions they had developed to show to the jury, teacher Roger Radoux and his class at the Athénée Royal d’Ans came away with first prize. Mr. Radoux will join the technical team at the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station in Antarctica for several weeks during the 2014-2015 season, and will be in touch with his students in Belgium during his time there. In the meantime, his students will implement the energy saving strategy they devised for their school during the 2014-15 school year.

The winning project includes three aspects that make it outstanding: It involves electricity production using a wind turbine built from recycled materials, a low-carbon transportation solution using a solar carport to charge electric bicycles, and energy-saving techniques including the development of an easy-to-use chip card system students can use to turn computers on and off, saving energy when they are not in use.

Second place went to Christine Chatzigiannis and her class at the Institut des Sacrés-Coeurs in Waterloo. They were lauded for the methodological approach they took to reducing energy consumption in their school.The students identified a series of actions the school could undertake and methodically evaluated the energy savings and positive impacts of each solution. They also put together a very creative model of their school, which they presented at the awards ceremony.

The jury also highlighted outstanding qualities of the projects and presentations of the three other schools. The Institut Technique Cardinal Mercier in Schaerbeek was recognized for their team spirit. Of particular interest was the fact that students focusing on different disciplines at the school worked together on the project, each bringing their specific competences to the proposal. Sint-Pieterscollege Jette was recognized for their enthusiasm and the pedagogical approach they took in their project. The Athénée Royal Marche-Bomal was recognized for their “responsible citizen” spirit, and the original way in which they presented their project: they brought the jury and the public forward in time to 2018 in order to show them how much energy would be saved in four years’ time by implementing their proposed solutions.   

All participating students received a high-quality hardcover coffee table book recounting the construction of the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station. Entitled Princess Elisabeth Antarctica: the Zero Emission Quest, the book features breathtaking pictures taken during many of Alain Hubert’s expeditions in Antarctica. In addition to getting a copy of the book on the first zero emission station in Antarctica themselves, teachers also received a certificate for the school’s participation in the Polar Quest 2 contest award ceremony along with a silver coin minted to commemorate the station’s construction.

The International Polar Foundation would like to thank its partners for their financial support for the project as well as the members of the jury for taking time out of their busy schedules and sharing their expertise.

Now that the first phase of Polar Quest 2 is over, keep an eye out for upcoming news about the second phase of the project - when students start to implement their energy-saving solutions in their schools during the 2014-15 school year, and when Mr Radoux from the Athénée Royal d’Ans prepares for his trip to Antarctica!

Wish you could have been there to witness the creativity and excitement? Have a look at pictures from the awards ceremony to get a feel of what it was like! You can also watch a cool video on the awards ceremony that we’ve put together!

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