Young Eco-Innovators to Vie for International Prize

environmental olympiad participants photo

Students present a project on biodiesel at a previous Olympiad. Photo via INEPO.

Can oil pollution be collected from the surface of the ocean? How do different land uses affect the water quality of rural areas? What impact does global warming have on allergies? Can hydrogen be produced without creating dangerous emissions? Are cell phones "boiling our brains"?

These questions, posed by students from Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, Germany, and South Africa, respectively, are among those being explored by youth participants in the 17th International Environmental Project Olympiad, or INEPO, to be held May 24 to 27 in Istanbul.Young people between the ages of 13 and 19 from 40 different countries will present 85 projects at the UNESCO-supported international event, all aiming to find innovative solutions to global environmental problems.

Turkey will be represented by three projects in this year's competition, one to produce high-quality fiberboard out of plastic-bag residues, one to generate eco-friendly biodegradable plastic, and one to recycle corncobs, fruit peels, and other organic refuse. Students from the United States are looking at biodiesel fuel, monitoring air quality with lichens, and whether lignite reserves can improve soil quality.

Competitors at last year's event developed a "first aid package" for endangered species, designed a portable solar-energy system, and investigated ways to extract heavy metals from soil and water using plants.

Started in 1993 with participation from just eight countries, the Olympiad also aims to develop cross-cultural friendships. "The youngsters compete with each other to gain a place. But ultimately, everyone returns to their countries with a glad heart," organizers write on the event's official Web site. "This is because there are other things which people gain from the competition. Students from different countries and cultures meet here, mingle and share their opinions. This is the greatest reward." That, and a planet that might still be habitable when they grow up.

More green innovations by students:
Students at Intel's Science Fair Show Off Incredible Eco-Focused Projects
Siemens, Discovery and the NSTA Announce Student Finalists in We Can Change the World Challenge
Swarthmore College Students Build Hydrogen-Powered Motorcycle
MIT Students Invent Energy-Harvesting Shock Absorber, Plan to Take Over the World
High School Students Invent Electric Motorcycle
Students' Eco Innovations
MIT Students Convert Porsche 914 to Electric
Brainy Students Build Kick-Ass Car

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