Student Francesca Virzì about challenge-based learning:
‘A perfect experience in every perceivable way’
How can we help small local farms through a sustainable delivery system? Four students of the University of Trento asked themselves this question and came up with Fresh App, a project that was awarded the Transnational International Vouchers (TIV) grant of 5000 euros from ECIU University. Student Francesca Virzì was one of the participants.
Text: Peter Koehorst/ECIU
Photo: University of Trento
The main idea behind the Fresh App: supporting local agriculture is good for the environment. ‘And we try to make inhabitants use local, sustainable products (again). At low prices’, says Francesca Virzì. ‘These products are cheaper for consumers because there are hardly any transport costs. People with a small budget also benefit from it. They come into contact with local farmers in a simple way.’
‘How that works? Very easy’, says Francesca. ‘Local farmers place fresh products on the app which can be ordered by consumers, restaurants and supermarkets, among others. They often don’t know these locally grown products at all anymore. This app does make this connection. The big advantage is that these products, by keeping them in the region, provide the regional farmers with a good income.’
With the future app, the student will also emphasize awareness of seasonal vegetables. ‘It is really nonsense to buy tomatoes far outside the region outside the harvesting season when you can also buy them from the local farmer. And it is much tastier too!’
Francesca shows with this challenge that students at an ECIU university are challenged to look beyond their own region, but that they can help the region with their internationally acquired knowledge. Participation also has benefits on a personal level. ‘I would like to go out into the world later. Speaking English well is very important. Studying at an ECIU-affiliated university certainly helps. And you get into contact with challenge-based learning. It was a perfect experience in every perceivable way.’
The picture below shows Francesca on the left with some members of the Fresh app team, consisting of Rebecca Cimbalo, Francesca D'Agostino, Emma Di Liberto, Mattia Rossetti and Fernanda Sauca.
Would like to know more about challenge-based learning? Check out this animation.
Green campus challenge
In total, 13 students from University of Stavanger and Università di Trento worked in teams to find solutions for a more sustainable campus, as an ECIU University challenge. Their ideas? Reducing electricity use in student housing by rewarding economical use of washing machines and dryers, using a student app. Nudging students to reduce waste in the cafeterias, by clear signposting and discounts for not using paper/plastic plates and containers, and introducing ‘smart cups’ made of materials with lower carbon footprint in the student bars/cafes. Great steps towards a climate-neutral campus.
App KAIP encourages sorting household waste
Idea for waste recycling
Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) and Kaunas Region Waste Management Centre joined forces and challenged ECIU University students on how Kaunas residents can better separate waste. The result? An app to encourage people to recycle. Last September, the idea has been awarded a Transnational Innovation Voucher (TIV) worth of 5.000 euros.
‘Based on Eurostat, students found out that only 46% waste is recycled in Lithuania’, says Laurynas Virbickas, Director of Kaunas Region Waste Management Centre. ‘As a result, the team set themselves the task of creating a tool that not only encourages sorting but also teaches how to do it correctly. The team also highlighted the problem of food waste – more than 41 kg food per citizen is wasted in Lithuania.’
To solve the challenge, the team of students developed an app called “KAIP” to help citizens with waste sorting tasks. The app empowers its users with information, allowing them to know what they need to do to properly sort their waste. It also connects citizens so that they can share details with each other. All this happens in a centralised platform.
Kaunas Region Waste Management Centre
App KAIP prototype
João Pedro Santos, a student from University of Aveiro is one of the five students who worked on the voucher-winning solution. ‘During our early investigations, we noticed that in 2019, Lithuania had the highest plastic packaging waste recycling rate in Europe – 70%. Nonetheless, there is still very little done for organic waste sorting, which most of the time goes undisposed. And there are very few facilities that can process this kind of waste in the country.’
Games and videos
Michele Marchi, student from University of Trento: ‘Our KAIP app is meant for children and grownups. It has games regarding recycling and composting and videos explaining how to properly recycle and compost. The app also has a discussion platform where other users can talk and share their ideas.’
The Innovation Voucher will be used to further develop the app. ‘We will also use the funding to cover the travelling costs, which will improve the communication within our international team,’ says João Borges, from University of Aveiro in Portugal.