Sustainability? It’s child’s play

Sustainability? It’s child’s play

The European winners of PlayEnergy, the competition set up by Enel for schools, came to Rome. The winning projects show the creativity of youngsters of all ages, in addition to revealing their hopes and dreams

Some of them will work in the clean energy sector when they grow up. Many others will have jobs that haven’t yet been invented. All of them will remember the day when, as school students, they were rewarded for their innovative projects in the name of sustainability.

That day was 14 April 2018 and these students are the European winners of the past two editions of PlayEnergy, the competition created by Enel in 2003 to raise awareness among the younger generation about clean energy and sustainability in general.

Their prize? A visit to Rome to experience the Italian debut of the ABB FIA Formula E championship, the racing competition for electric vehicles: the winning students took part in activities inside the e-village, based in the Nuvola (Cloud) convention centre designed by Fuksas, visited the pit lanes, watched the warm-ups and 100 of them were present in the stands for the race itself.

"Rome? It’s the first time I’ve been here and I’m amazed, it is a masterpiece of art and history. There is such an interesting contrast between the historical monuments and Formula E, which marks the peak of innovation today in the electric vehicle sector"
Alexey Likhachev, student, Asbest Polytechnic (Russia)


PlayEnergy, a global success

Rome hosted 300 pupils from primary, middle and secondary schools from Italy, Romania and Russia: a sample of the European winners of PlayEnergy. A similar award ceremony took place on 16 March in Punta del Este, Uruguay, for the winners from Latin America, who also got their first taste of a Formula E race.

The initiative is now an established global success: 2017 saw the participation of 11 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Italy, Panama, Romania, Russia, Spain and South Africa), 431,000 students and 30,000 teachers from nearly 8,000 schools. Over 3,300 innovative ideas for sustainability were produced during the competition.


Unlimited creativity

The winning projects demonstrate the extreme creativity of young students: a self-illuminating case with innovative solutions for mobility and recycling, from Brindisi; a mobile greenhouse, powered by a solar panel, from Cerreto D’Esi (Ancona); a vehicle that can gather and transport abandoned bottles to the local waste centre, from Bari; two prototypes for a smart house managed by an app, from Rome and Isernia; pedestrian crossings illuminated by LED lights, from Ostia; an ecological boat whose engine runs on salt water, from Fabriano (Ancona); an app where the aim of the game is to save energy, from Panicale (Perugia); bumper cars powered by solar energy, from Sant’Agata sul Santerno (Ravenna); a gadget to recover the kinetic energy produced by moving vehicles (buses, trams, underground trains), from Udine; the model for a hi-tech disco using a photovoltaic structure, from Palermo; the project for an innovative waste management structure, from Asbest (Russia) and a system of solar energy traffic lights, synchronised to pedestrian footfall, from Bucharest.

"We came up with this idea after experimenting with a new model of teaching based on a focus on wonder and responsibility"
Gaetano Aliberti, teacher, I.S.S. Galileo Ferraris, Cairo Montenotte (Savona)

There are no limits to the students’ imagination: primary school pupils from Casamassima (Bari) created prototypes of creative objects from recycled materials: shoes which warm and massage the feet, washing machines that separate garments, school boards with mechanical arms that write, pencil cases that keep their contents in order and robots that  prepare snacks from locally sourced ingredients. A school from Modena produced prototypes for three sustainable vehicles (one with solar panels, another running on biogas produced from urban waste, and the third incorporating a security control panel for brand new drivers) which were presented as the brand “Ciuchino Rampante” – the “Prancing Donkey.” This is an ironic reference to the “Prancing Horse,” the nickname of Ferrari, which has its headquarters near Modena.

Special mentions were given to two communication projects: a comic book about energy designed by a school in Rivoli (Torino) and a video promoting the benefits of the bicycle, done to the soundtrack of Edoardo Bennato’s song “W la mamma” (“Long Live Mum!”), created in Assemini (Cagliari).


Care for the territory

Several schools concentrated on solutions to renew and revitalise local areas. The students from Cairo Montenotte (Savona) studied ways to transform their town into a smart city and to make their aqueduct more efficient, while those from the Istituto Comprensivo Aldo Moro in Maddaloni (Caserta) worked on a project to regenerate Cava di Zi’ Peppe, a severely degraded area close to the school.

Students from the Giuseppe Micali school in Livorno visited the disused Marzocco thermoelectric power plant, devising a project to turn the space into an interactive museum about energy-saving that would run on the renewable resources that are in abundance in this coastal city, such as sun, wind, waves and seaweed. This is an idea that is perfectly in line with the Enel Futur-e project to repurpose 23 disused thermoelectric structures.

The most touching example came from the Istituto Comprensivo Gianni Rodari in Sassa (L’Aquila) which was destroyed in the 2009 earthquake: the pupils, who have been going to lessons in a temporary space, created a 3D model that incorporated the sustainable and innovative solutions they imagined for their new school. This example alone would be enough to define the value of PlayEnergy: the energy that helps youngsters make their dreams come true.