2021 STEM Captain represents Australia at the Stockholm Junior Water Prize

2021 STEM Captain, Julia Cummins, was announced the winner of the the Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize, an annual water science competition for high school students.

2021 STEM Captain, Julia Cummins, winner of the the Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize in April represents Australia at the prestigious international World Water Week in Sweden in August this year.

Julia’s award-winning project, which was the major component of her HSC subject Science Extension, won the Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize was held in April this year. The winner of the Australian competition, where students create solutions for water challenges, is invited to participate in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize , held each World Water Week in Sweden.

Julia has shared her experience of attending and presenting at this important event.

By bringing together creative and ambitious students from all over the world, the Stockholm Junior Water Prize encourages an interest in water and sustainability to help tackle the problems that the water industry is facing. An international competition held in Sweden, I travelled to Stockholm in August 2022 to represent Australia in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, alongside finalists from 36 other countries as a part of the global World Water Week conference.

High school students presented innovative solutions to water issues, highlighting the importance of water in our society and its multitude of threats, particularly in relation to climate change, salinity, ocean acidification, and extreme flooding. It was fascinating to hear about the water issues being dealt with all over the world, and an honour to present my research Why Silver Might Not Be Gold in Water , where I found a safe concentration at which nanosilver can be present in our waterways using bioindicator organisms.

The conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with students from all over the world and meet professionals and experts from the water industry who gave insight into our projects and encouraged further avenues of experimentation. It was also an incredible privilege to meet HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the patron of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, who talked with us about our projects.

Aside from the conference, we were invited to present our research at the StockH2Olm exhibition that took place two days prior to World Water Week. During this time, we were able to engage with members of the public and discuss our research, as well as learn more about the water obstacles relevant to the residents in Stockholm. There were also numerous other social and educational activities organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute team, who arranged the Prize.

We visited the impressive headquarters of Xylem Inc., the global sponsor of the competition, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology (at which I was told I was the only Australian on campus!) and enjoyed a guided tour of the Skansen open-air museum and Gamla Stan (Old Town), including the Storkyrkan Cathedral and the Royal Palace.

Reflecting on my experiences, the true highlight of the competition was meeting so many young people from all over the world with similar interests, and I have made lifelong friends I will continue to stay in touch with. Each and every project was unique and showcased the passion and dedication of each finalist to solving water challenges, inspiring and motivating me to further my interest in research and consider the essential role water has in our world. Participating in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize was an extraordinary opportunity, and it is one that I would encourage every student to consider pursuing in the future.

Julia Cummins, 2021.