Poly students find fun ways to encourage Singaporeans to conserve water

The two teams won different categories in the PUB Splash Lab competition.

Sitoh Shanice

Dances in her free time and can also lick her elbow.

Published: 10 May 2021, 12:43 PM

Imagine a game that involves fighting off monsters in the toilet bowl that lets you save water in real life. This was one of the winning projects at the Splash Lab competition by PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency.

This year’s competition challenged polytechnic students to ideate and design a physical solution to climate change, or create a public movement to generate interest in water conservation among youths.

Team Quest Saga, which is made up of five Singapore Polytechnic students; Cheam Zhi Kai, Lim Cai Ying, Joseph Goh, Teo Wenxin and Lo Ho Tin, created a mobile role-playing game to incentivise children to save water. 

The game, called Quest Saga, takes place in Singapore in the year 2050, where climate change is at an all-time high. Players, who have to conquer monsters of various levels, can power up by answering questions about saving water. The game is complemented by an actual flow meter set that measures the amount of water used per showering session.

“The game is correlated to the amount of water you save per month or per day. For example, if the flowmeter is installed in the bathroom, the more water you save, the easier you level up,” said Wenxin. 

Fellow team member Cai Ying shared that when testing out the game prototype, she realised how much water flowed out of the flowmeter in a short period of time. 

She said: “It turns out that one shower can take up to 20 litres of water and that was really surprising.”


The team considered creating other prototypes, but they found that they were much more interested in creating a game. PHOTO CREDIT: TEAM QUEST SAGA


The team’s creative idea helped them to win first place for the “Innovative Solutions” category in the competition. 

Another winning team at the PUB competition was the #itstartswithme team from Temasek Polytechnic, who won the “Public Campaign” category with their social media movement. 

The team, which consists of six year three communication and media management students; Wee Tong Lin Eva, Wong Kar Wai Naomi  Abigail, Kandakumar Harshitha Smruthi L, Rachel Rui-Qi Castaneda, Sim Theen Yen and Teng Yu Xuan Fiora, created a campaign that revolves around fictional Singaporean girl Sammy. 

Through Instagram, Sammy educates her followers on the importance of water conservation.

The team used the persona “Sammy” for the campaign as they wanted it to feel like a regular teenage girl telling her friends how to save water. This would further amplify the effect that saving water starts from a person. 

“#Itstartswithme basically means that you’re the one starting to conserve water, and this gets the ball rolling among your friends and family,” Eva explained.


The campaign leveraged Instagram’s functions such as filters, story templates and IGTVs. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@ITSTARTSWITHSAMMY


Rachel shared that they used a three-phase approach throughout the campaign to ensure they could target each stage effectively.

She said: “People can understand dry spells first, then water usage, then starting a water conversation. Everything flowed really nicely and the content was digestible.”

Theen Yen felt that their team’s dynamic was the reason for their win. She said: “Because we had each other’s backs, we could help each other. During the project, no one struggled alone.”

Overcoming challenges during the competition

When asked about the challenges they faced during the competition, both teams said they had to scrap multiple ideas and redo many things to produce their final product.

Naomi and Harshita from #itstartswithme said that the team was already in the middle of editing two videos when they decided they didn’t like the videos and had to refilm them. 

“We didn’t want to produce something that we didn’t want to see ourselves,” Rachel said.

Rachel and Eva, who were in charge of the Instagram filters, had to learn coding from scratch to operate the programme. Similarly, Harshita had to learn Adobe After Effects to create animations.

During the ideation stage, the #itstartswithme team went back and forth with different ideas for the campaign to ensure that the message of water sustainability is spread across. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@ITSTARTSWITHSAMMY


Meanwhile, Cai Ying from Team Quest Saga said that her team found it challenging to transfer their game from desktop to mobile. 

She said: “At first we were able to totally customise the character from hair to skin to clothes on the desktop version, but we couldn’t get the same feature working on mobile, so we had to take it out.

Learning from the competition

Both teams pushed through their respective struggles, and got positive takeaways by the end of  the competition. 

With the help of her teammates, Fiora from #itstartswithme improved her graphic design skills. She said: “It was nice to see my group mates giving me space to grow. I know I’m not the best but they were like it’s okay and told me not to worry.” 

Similarly, Eva felt the team’s entire journey in the competition was more important than winning.

“When the whole campaign came together at the end, there was already a sense of pride that the hard work had paid off. Winning the competition was just the cherry on top,” she said.


Ho Tin (back row in white mask) shared that the competition made him realise that there are other ways apart from campaigns to teach people about the habits of water conservation. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SITOH SHANICE


After participating in the PUB Splash Lab, many of the team members continue to think about how they can continue to save more water, having understood the importance of water conservation.

Joseph from Team Quest Saga said: “You usually don’t see the direct need to save water, so there’s not much emphasis placed on individual responsibility. But if every individual uses five per cent more water, as a whole there will be a significant amount of water used.”

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