Honorable Mention - Middle School

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 13: Climate Action

2019 Youth Design Challenge

This design concept was developed by participants in the Institute’s Youth Design Challenge. The descriptions below are from the team’s competition entry materials.

School: The Harley School
Location: Rochester, NY, United States
Coach: Kima Enerson, Anneke Nordmark
Team members: Luke Healy, Arlie Slater, Jillian Wexler, Claire Houston, Riley Brand, Dylan Mayall

Video Pitch

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Innovation Details

SOREP (Seagrass Oyster Reef Erosion Protection System) limits erosion by mimicking seagrass and oyster reefs. It helps prevent erosion by breaking the bottom of the waves, thereby making sure that the full force of the waves never reaches the shore. The designs complement each other, because when, say the section modeled after oyster reef is alone, the waves get through the spots left open by the sponge walls. But when these designs work together, the waves are nearly entirely stopped.

The problem that the team addressed was coastal erosion. Because climate change is getting worse, the average rainfall per year (and sea level in general) is increasing, causing erosion. This destroys coastal structures, cities, and some ecosystems. On top of this, climate change is killing the plants and organisms that naturally reduce erosion, like seagrass and oyster reefs, by raising the temperature of the ocean. What the team tried to do was to stop the erosion at its source: use nature-inspired designs to slow waves before they even reached the shore so that the erosion from the waves is minimal.

This solution mimics seagrass and oyster reefs. The team found out that oysters reefs reduce wave energy by huge amounts, up to 93%, and create calm environments for animals to live in while reducing erosion. Sometimes these reefs can become intertidal! The team knew to build something a bit above the water and with a big, bulky shape. Sea grass is able to slow down water currents and make the waves smaller. The team added something that would move like sea grass and be attached to the ocean floor.