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Elementary School Students Attending Utsurobo's Science Courses Won a National "Kids' Research" Competition! Winner of a national competition for "Kids' Research"! Presentation of research on "Desert Greening ~Dr. Satoshi Nakamura's thoughts and his sister's diaper were the hints for his research.

Surrounded by rice paddies, an elementary school student's thought is, "My mission is to save the earth."


Utsuribo (Location: Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, President: Kuniyoshi Kaseda, M.D., Ph.D., Information Technology) is pleased to announce that M, a second grader taking an online science course, won the Excellence Award (first place in the lower elementary school category) in the "FRaU SDGs edu Children's Presentation Contest.

M, who is very healthy and says, "My house is surrounded by rice paddies," reads as many as 100 books a month. What is also wonderful is M's thoughts, "My mission is to save the earth," and "My dream is to become an engineer to save the earth. M has conducted a research project to solve the "desertification problem" and won the highest prize (in his category) in the contest.

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Won the first place in the nation!

My Mission is to Protect the Earth

Contest Summary

Contest name: "Let's think about it! FRaU SDGs edu Children's Presentation Contest

Sponsor: Kodansha Ltd.

Related website: "FRaU SDGs edu Children's Presentation Contest 2023

        Also published in the January 2024 issue of FRaU


Shinichi Fukuoka (Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Visiting Professor at Rockefeller University), Yoshio Kojima (Comedian), Neru Nagahama (Actress, TV personality), Yuko Aoki (Freelance announcer), Toshimasa Ota (Education Journalist) and 8 others

Launch of the "Desert Greening Project

In order to protect the earth's environment, M-kun focused on "desertification. He wanted to protect the earth by turning deserts into green spaces. His desire was further strengthened by the late Dr. Satoshi Nakamura (physician, 1946-2019). Dr. Nakamura's projects in Afghanistan, where he saved hundreds of thousands of people by drawing irrigation canals while conducting medical activities, touched his heart. He said, "Do whatever you can for the people in front of you!" Even an elementary school student like me can put this into practice if I have the desire to do so! and started the project.

Water is necessary for greening, but the reality is that it is difficult to carry out a large-scale project like Dr. Nakamura's, which involves drawing irrigation canals. So he came up with a way to store the rainwater that sometimes falls in the desert. What caught his attention were the diapers his sister uses. After learning that there is always a margin of error in experiments, and that it is important to repeat measurements and take averages, M confirmed that a single diaper can hold an average of about 4 kilograms of water. Next, you took on the challenge of building an experimental system that mimicked a desert, which you named a "replica desert. However, the research did not proceed as expected. We continued to study while adjusting the amount of sand and water to be used, and finally completed the "replica desert.

A Problem Arises

A big problem arose here. To our surprise, the plants (radish and basil) were incompatible with the polymer resin in the diapers. Both radish and basil germinated on the polymer resin, but did not grow. One day, I noticed that M was unusually listless. When we asked him about it, he told us that he was going to give up his research.

After confirming M's thoughts and dreams, and after he had calmed down, we organized the current status of his research. Looking at it calmly, I realized that he had already made many discoveries, and like a phoenix, he came back to life and resumed his challenge. M's "creativity" was amazing, as he became even more determined. This kind of resilience (toughness and flexibility) is one of his strengths.

We discussed several strategies to avoid the compatibility problem between the plant and the diaper resin. Referring to his sister's shrimp allergy and the "compost spreading" done on his grandfather's basil farm, he found a "allergy version" and a "compost version," one after another, to find a solution. Finally, he succeeded in growing Hatsuka radish and basil using a replica desert. We saw the light of growing plants in the desert.


■The Power of Family

The experiment was conducted in a home lab named "M's Laboratory. It is a great kid's lab using study desks, shelves, and storage boxes. It was a trial-and-error process, with parents and children expanding their ideas based on what they had confirmed and studied in the online course. We also worked with the parents to create the report materials.

This was the first challenge for the family, but they passed the first round of judging with flying colors. The parents provided warm and enthusiastic support for the second round of judging, which included the presentation. For a second grader, it is difficult to be asked various questions for 30 minutes, but M-kun enjoyed it and was very happy and felt a sense of accomplishment when the second round of judging was over. His sister, who would not yet understand the content and situation, also sent us a picture of her joy and fulfillment together with him. The beauty of Family Science is that the enthusiasm of the whole family is conveyed in this way.

The parents were very proud of M's hard work and said, "This whole free research project has become our family's best memory," and "I have learned a lot about the goodness of children. Finally, the day of the presentation came. We won the Excellence Award (lower elementary school category) together as a family.

Family Science

M-kun's vision of 2030

M-kun says, "My research is focused on the SDG17. My research is directly related to all 17 SDGs, but especially to water issues (#6), climate change (#13), and making the abundance of land sustainable (#15). He predicts that by the time he turns 15 in 2030, "deserts in Australia and elsewhere will be green, clean energy will have been developed, and there will be no garbage trucks.

What kind of person is M?

M not only has great knowledge and thoughts, but also makes an effort to "connect" things on a daily basis. He focused on the absorbency of his sister's diapers, and since his grandfather runs a basil farm, he used basil in his research and seedling pots. I also developed a "compost version" from my farming experience with my grandfather, which led to the great success of the project. I am learning from his attitude of connecting familiar things and finding what he can do.

Despite the fact that they had achieved great results this time, they immediately reflected on what they had done and thanked their peers. He also said that the current situation is "like a Reuters version of a jumping box" and "I am a human SDG. I am a human SDGs." He is sure to make even greater strides in the future.

What is important to you on a daily basis?

Thinking with my mind and turning knowledge into wisdom.

"To get hints from books and turn them into development.

Not only to think with my mind, but also to confirm it through experiments.

What do you want your friends and adults to know?

I would like each one of you to know the reality of environmental problems and take action. There are many things we can do, such as saving water and electricity.

She would like to continue to make many friends and colleagues through science and work on environmental issues. He also said that he wants people to know the sense of accomplishment and the real joy of accomplishing research. Today, M is continuing to develop his world by finding many ideas from nature on a country road, building on his passionate and noble thoughts.

Finally, I would like to say

I was surprised when I started the science class. Many children and their families love science so much and have so much knowledge about science that they are worried that they don't have a place in the world. I am sometimes surprised at how much knowledge they have these days, helped by science cartoons and science comics. However, there is no place for them to demonstrate their outstanding abilities. And even if they have a dream of becoming a scientist, there is no room to know how to accomplish it. In the case of sports, music, and the arts, one can use the same tools as the professionals on a daily basis and accumulate learning experiences by imitating skilled instructors, but in the case of science, such a place is hard to find. Children who are fast at math, quick on their feet, or good at English conversation have a place to demonstrate their abilities, but in the case of science, they are unable to fully express their true selves and seem to find no place for their hearts and minds. We value these children and provide them with "opportunities" and "environments" to bring out the strengths and characteristics of each child.

If we can create an environment in which the power of science permeates society and individual abilities can be fully demonstrated, the sluggish economy will naturally recover, and peace will be restored. We will continue our "Recommendation of Science" to make science a part of our culture.

List of this year's awards

National Competition

FRaU SDGs edu Children's Presentation Contest, Excellent Prize

The 18th "Bud of Science" Encouragement Award: 1 (4th place in the same grade)

The 18th "Bud of Science" Effort Award: 1 (5th place in the same grade)

The 18th "Budding Scientists" Encouragement Award (4th place in the same grade) Tankyu Book Free Research" Honorable Mention: 1

Regional contest

Free Research Exhibition of Science: 2 first prizes,

Free Research Exhibition of Science: 6 Honorable Mentions

Also received the "Encouragement Prize" at the University of Tsukuba's Asanaga Shinichiro Memorial "Bud of Science

Numerous awards received in local competitions

Reference article

RAGRANCE JOURNAL, November 2023, "Let's create a big bang in industry through kids' research!

(Reprinted with permission from Fragrance Journal)

CHEMISTRY September 2022 "A World Without the Mind Gap Between Science and Humanities"

(Reprinted with permission from Fragrance Journal)

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Establishment : January 2021

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