2019-2020 Glocal Challenge Focuses on Water Crisis

Teams Faucet Failures and the Water Coolers Win Trips to Panama and Costa Rica

Jessica Chook, Contributing Writer

The Glocal Challenge, organized by CRLS in partnership with EF Tours, is an interactive competition that encourages CRLS students to think, collaborate, and address environmental issues both locally and globally. This year’s theme was how Cambridge residents could contribute to solving the global water crisis. From September to January, each of the nine teams consisting of two to five people prototyped an original and impactful project to raise awareness about the global water crisis while sticking to a budget.

On January 22nd, after months of creativity and dedication, Glocal participants presented their projects at the EF Headquarters in Cambridge to the community and judges. Some groups proposed tangible projects, such as the Hydro Homies whose goal was to create an attachable water-preserving faucet to put in low-income areas. Others created more awareness-focused designs, like the group Aquality 5 who designed a poster about a flood safety plan that they placed in MBTA train and bus stops.

“As the new generation, we are expected to pick up the pieces of the effects of the climate.”

Ananiya “AK” Kinfe ’22, a member of team Faucet Failures created a video game and app that he hoped “would potentially make [elementary students] more water conscious.’’ The app’s demo featured a pipe connecting game based in the Charles River and a water germ flicking game based in various Cambridge ponds. 

Similar to raising awareness about dangerous aquatic species in various ponds, team Pond Protectors created a possible solution to ameliorate Cambridge’s plant problem. Ibrahim Ware ’20 explains, “As [invasive species] overgrow, they limit space for native species and absorb more sunlight, driving them to extinction. Pulling the weeds out by hand is not very effective as breaking one of these plants by accident helps them continue to grow.” because of this problem, the team devised products and machinery to combat invasive species such as an extractigator, a stem-removal tool.

Team Cambridge Freshies designed an awareness campaign to reduce meat consumption in Cambridge. The team highlighted the amount of water used during meat production to try to convince Cambridge residents of the necessity of eating less meat. According to Kyla Peters ’21, “Out of 150 people we surveyed, 77% of the meat-eaters said that they would participate in meatless Mondays. If they were to participate, we would be able to save 11 million liters of water.”

Victoria Chen ’23, a member of The Water Coolers, wanted to combine a clothing swap and a thrift store for her team’s project. She says, “If you brought in clothing you would be able to take clothing from the store, but you could also take clothing for suggested donations. The donation money would then be given to Save the Water, a nonprofit organization that focuses on cleaning water”.

At the end of the event on January 22nd, the top five teams were revealed: Four teams were chosen by a panel of judges and one by a community vote. After a final presentation to the panel of judges, two teams were chosen to win a trip to Panama and Costa Rica for STEM-focused tours on waterways and wetlands. Those were team Faucet Failures and The Water Coolers. The Glocal Challenge has inspired and brought out the creativity of CRLS scholars to promote change in citywide projects. Peters concluded, “As the new generation, we are expected to pick up the pieces of the effects of the climate. It’s been a struggle managing this challenge along with the extracurriculars that I do, but it’s been a good way to find an outlet to make a change.”

This piece also appears in our January 2020 print edition.