Building the future


The Global Children's Designathon took place on 11 November – supported by Haniel. Five hundred children across the world took part and developed all sorts of great ideas for protecting the important resource of water.

"I've heard that in Africa you have to walk six kilometres to get water. And 12 kilometres for clean water," explains Recep. "And because plastic bags look like jellyfish, they are eaten by tortoises that then die from this," reports Emilia. Fourteen children aged between eight and twelve came to the Designathon in Duisburg and they all know that while water is essential to life, it is also at risk. There is not enough drinking water for everybody, the water habitat is under threat from environmental pollution and natural disasters are also occurring with increasing frequency that result in too much water. The children at the only Designathon in Germany therefore become inventors: In parallel with participants from Montreal, Singapore, Nairobi or Dubai, they develop prototypes intended to help solve global water problems. Haniel is supporting the Designathon for the first time: "Our aim is to be enkelfähig. For us this also includes asking our children and grandchildren how they wish to shape the future," explains Haniel boss Stephan Gemkow.

Think big!
The children are bursting with ideas. The first drafts are already ready after just one hour. Tabea and her team wish to construct a machine that filters small pieces of plastic out of the sea, for instance. Luna and Estella are working on a plant express. They intend to use this seed robot in arid regions to stimulate the growth of new plants. And next to them three boys are working on a solar-powered water filter. The team of Mert, Till-Luca and Mete is thinking particularly big. "There are so-called gas giants in space that contain large quantities of oxygen and hydrogen. These can be used to produce water," explains Mert. "All we need to do therefore is to transport these substances to earth by spaceship.

No problem is too big
After they have presented their ideas to the other children, work commences on building the prototypes. Cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, adhesive tape, wires, circuit boards and propellers – the children use all kinds of materials to create their visions of the future. Excitement lies in the air as the jury comprises some high-ranking figures: Jeanne Kindermann from Kienbaum Consulting and André Paetzel from Agentur Grey are among the judges, as are trainer Nicola Hengst-Gohlke and Daniel Willmes from Haniel's CWS-boco division. In the end every team wins a prize. What experiences will the children take home with them from this interesting day? "You can find a solution to every problem no matter how big it is," says Tabea. And Lena adds: "Just because they're older doesn't mean grown-ups always have the best ideas."