DUBAI: – Four winning student projects celebrate receiving mentorship opportunities and support after emerging victorious in the final, weekend showcase of the Changemakers Challenge, a joint initiative of the Expo School Programme, HP and Innov8 Tech Education Services that will be presented during COP28.

The Challenge called on girl innovators aged between nine and 15 years to find solutions to real-world problems that align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the winners selected from a pool of more than 100 submissions, 54-plus schools and almost 400 students. The students presented their prototypes to a panel of judges and industry experts from Expo City Dubai, HP, and Innov8Tech at Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion.  

In first place, ‘NJ Project’ tackles the lack of clean water in urban centres through vertical farms that have both a purification and oxygenation system. GEMS Modern Academy’s Jia Keniya and Nandana Reju Nair will gain a week’s access to the Innov8 Tech Education Services Maker Space – dedicated to enabling the next generation of innovators to succeed in the 21st century – where they will further develop their prototypes with the support of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Art) education specialists.

Two projects tied for second place. ‘Project Reborn’, which focuses on recycling and repurposing plastic bottles using 3D printing, was presented by Kanshika Manikandan and Sashini Manikandan from Delhi Private School, Sharjah, while ‘No Money Down the Drain!’, by Hiba Habeebulla and Niharika Arvind from GEMS Winchester School Dubai, improvises a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system that recycles waste water from hand-washing at schools.

Third-place winner ‘Planting Bricks’ offered a porous sandstone brick building material designed to be environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable throughout its lifecycle, reducing emissions, accommodating plants that capture carbon dioxide, and holding water while insulating buildings. The team behind it comprises Eshal Saad, Maham Zeeshan, Fatima David, Ayesha Khan and Retal Walid from GEMS Founders Al Mizhar.

The Changemakers Challenge will be showcased as part of the UAE’s participation at the COP28 climate summit, to be held at Expo City Dubai later this year, and all four winners will receive mentorship sessions with HP’s management along with other rewards for the students, their families, and their teachers.

Launched on this year’s International Women’s Day (8 March) and open to students from the UAE, the Changemakers Challenge put the focus on digital equity, in line with the three organisations’ shared goals to drive diversity, equity and inclusion across STEAM.


About Expo City Dubai

  • Expo City Dubai harnesses the unifying spirit of Expo 2020 Dubai and carries forward its legacy, continuing to demonstrate that by working together, we can propel human progress
  • An innovation-driven, people-centric city of the future and one of five hubs in the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, it is designed as a blueprint for sustainable urban planning, galvanising action on its journey to carbon neutrality
  • Its ecosystem supports cross-sector collaboration and provides a springboard for businesses of all sizes to scale and grow, enhancing Dubai’s position as a global centre of trade and reinforcing the UAE’s development and diversification ambitions
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