Katharina Schmitt-Mücke from the TU Bergakademie Freiberg is currently working on the international project “Moment for Water” to sensitize European pupils to the topic of water scarcity. For this mission she is also part of the European Youth Parliament for Water (EYPW).
Water has become a natural resource in modern industrial nations such as Germany. Like electricity, it is always available and can be used in many different ways. But water will become increasingly scarce in the coming years. It is estimated that the last resources will be exhausted by 2051. In order to make young people aware of this problem, a 27-year-old student from the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg is participating intensively in the “Moment for Water” project.
“Water, the ‘blue gold of the 21st century’, has always fascinated me. But it can’t be found everywhere. There is only one percent usable water of the entire salt and freshwater resources of the earth. Believing that there is an abundance of clean water also tempts many people to waste it and puts dependency on the resource in the background. Many ecosystems are dependent on the water cycle and react much more slowly than humans, for example the introduction of (micro)plastics into nature’s cycles. In my process engineering studies I learn a lot about physical, chemical and biological material transformation. This includes, for example, processes such as the removal of pollutants from water, exhaust gas and soil. I am particularly interested in how the recycling of polluted water can be improved from an ecological point of view,” explains Katharina Schmitt-Mücke.
In order to make the topic of water scarcity more popular, especially in schools, the student from TU Freiberg is planning several activities. For example, in the participating pilot schools in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland, the water is turned off for one hour. During this time, the students will reflect on how to deal with the lack of an infinite supply of water and what it means for everyday life. Activities such as washing hands, showering or flushing after going to the toilet are then no longer possible without further ado.
Teachers are also encouraged to spread the word. The project team provides the teachers with a portfolio of experiments and ideas for teaching, which they can incorporate into the respective curriculum (e.g. in chemistry, biology and physics, geology and expertise). The project supports, for example, teachers in St. Petersburg in preparing the natural science lessons in terms of content and digitality and in promoting interactivity. To this end, the young scientists provide above all scientific and technical know-how on the subject of water.
Katharina Schmitt-Mücke also reported on her ideas and actions at the 15th edition of the European Youth Parliament for water (EYPW) in Nizhny Novgorod. As a representative of the German-Swiss delegation, she was present and debated the future of water management. The main focus was on the question of how young people can contribute to better management of water resources.
The European Youth Parliament for water
The EYPW is an initiative launched 20 years ago to promote the participation of young people in the water sector. The aim of the parliamentary sessions is to give young people the opportunity to acquire knowledge about water resource management in order to act as actors in ecological change.