December 21st, 2023 | By Naomi Boon
The inaugural Brilliant Blue Challenge, a UN Ocean Decade endorsed activity took place virtually on Saturday December 16, 2023. This global competition for youth showcased a variety of creative and innovative solutions to addressing ocean challenges and stimulating a sustainable blue economy.
The challenge, which received funding support from National Research Council of Canada, had 38 teams registered from 17 countries, including Nigeria, Belize, Senegal and South Africa, of which 22 teams (99 students in total) participated in the live virtual event.
The competition invited students to design creative solutions to some of the most pressing ocean challenges across three categories: marine renewable energy, marine autonomous systems, and healthy marine life. The students have been working on their projects since the competition launched in June 2023, and were excited to present their presentations at the December 16 event, many of which included videos, prototypes of their solution and detailed logbooks of their work over the past few months. Supported by their teachers, as well as by Brilliant Blue mentors, the standard of the solutions presented across the three categories was incredibly high.
There were multiple awards for the top projects in each category, corresponding with the 7 Ocean Decade outcomes, for example a clean ocean, which was presented to Team Royal Robotics, a team of students from New Brunswick, Canada, who designed and presented a unique claw machine that would autonomously retrieve sub-surface plastic from the ocean.
The Brilliant Blue Challenge aims to provide the students with more than just awards, however. As well as raising awareness among high school students of the importance of the ocean and the vast potential of ocean industries, and encouraging students to apply their STEM knowledge to solve real world ocean challenges, the Challenge offers the opportunity to foster skills beyond STEM, including critical thinking, communication and teamwork. The competition provided students with real-world exposure to ocean industry leaders in Canada and mentoring from ocean professionals, which has allowed the students to gain insights into the ocean sector and make connections that will be available to them long beyond the competition.
Omar Hussein, the director of the Brilliant Blue Challenge, has an ambitious vision for this competition, notably to grow the competition, and to have an in-person competition in 2024. Stay tuned via the Brilliant Blue webpage to see how the competition grows!