Young innovator

After making a low-cost water purifier using coconut shell, Bakhtiar Zaman Bhuiyan, a 9th grader from Dhaka has become a finalist for Stockholm Junior Water Prize…writes Adnan Akib

Life of an average teenage boy should be relatively simple. Playing in the football tournament in the neighborhood, the next episode of The Simpsons, the exam that is due next month – these, many may assume, could be on his mind. But what if he was thinking about solving complex social problems?
Bakhtiar Zaman Bhuiyan, a student of class nine in Saint Joseph Higher Secondary School, Dhaka, has taken his science project to another level. And now he is representing his country in an international competition.
Bakhtiar won the national level of Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2016 and is currently in Sweden to participate in the final round of the competition. Bakhtiar’s idea is nothing short of an innovation. He has innovated a low-cost water purifier using a coconut shell.
After topping the competition among other Bangladeshis with his water purifier, he set off for Stockholm on August 25.
‘This is definitely amazing. I am so excited to be one of the finalists. I hope that my project will make the country proud,’ Bakhtiar shared with New Age Youth before leaving.
Although the innovative teenager is a science enthusiast since standard three, he eventually wants to become a doctor. When asked if he ever wondered about becoming a scientist or an innovator, he simply said that he is still not sure about the future. ‘I want to become a doctor but like doing innovative things,’ he said.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize is an international competition where each year students of over 30 countries participate. Fifteen to 20 year olds who want to develop water related projects are eligible to take part in the competition.
These projects might address water related issues on a local, regional or even a global scale. The winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize gets an award of 15000 US dollars, a sculpture, a diploma.
Bakhtiar’s water purifier can purify water at a very low cost with the help of activated carbon collected from coconut shell. He named his project ‘Purification of Drinking Water using Coconut Shell – based Activated Carbon (PDWCAC)’.
The water purifier uses four layers of filtering system. ‘This water purifier uses layers of stone, sand, coconut shell based activated carbon boxes and copper chloride. When the raw water passes through the layers, the bacteria and other harmful agents in the water will be removed. This water filter can detect and remove anything harmful, even if they are present as small molecules,’ Bakhtiar claims.
Although only a 15-year-old, Bakhtiar is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of society. Before thinking about any project, he first looks at what problems are prevalent, and then brainstorms about plausible solutions.
Bakhtiar is also mindful about making solutions affordable for people with low income.
‘I am really happy for this project. This could help the rural people of our country. The concept of this filter is very simple and it can be a great solution for the water issues of rural people. Besides being cheap, the filter is also very easy to operate. I think this will be popular in villages,’ he asserts.
Faculty members of Bangladesh University of Science and Technology (BUET) verified the effectiveness of Bakhtiar’s filter.
‘According to statistics, a family spends around 100 US dollars per year for water purification nowadays. But this filter can cut that cost significantly. This purifier can filter 5000 litres of water only at the expense of 50 cents. This purifier also does not require that many spare parts and could last a lifetime,’ Bakhtiar claims.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize authority is paying for the accommodation and travel costs of Bakhtiar.
‘I will go there with my father. I am very much excited and hoping for the best. Participants from 29 countries will go there and I will get the opportunity to know other cultures. I hope I can learn new things from them,’ he adds.
He further adds excitedly, ‘We would be staying at the same hotel that is used by the attendees of the Nobel Prize, so I am super excited about that as well.’
Bakhtiar has been participating in science fairs since he was a student of class three. Among two children of Aktaruzzaman Bhuiyan and Beauty Aktar, he is the elder child.
‘He makes me proud. What he does and the award he is getting is amazing. I would like to request everyone to pray for my child so that he can do better in life,’ says Beauty Aktar, his mother, to New Age Youth.
Bakhtiar’s father is an engineer by profession. ‘As my father is an engineer and he works on solid waste management, he helps me in many ways with my science projects. I learn many things from his works too,’ Bakhtiar adds.
Apart from his interest in science, Bakhtiar is also a scout and a member of Bangladesh Scouts. He went to Japan last year to attend the 23rd World Scout Jamboree, where a total of 33,628 participants from 155 countries participated. He has also been awarded with Shapla Cub Scout, which is one of the most prestigious scout awards among Cub Scouts.
Bakhtiar is also a high achiever in his academic pursuits. He received a scholarship in Junior School Certificate and received a Golden A+ in his Primary School Certificate exam.

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