St Andrew’s students revolutionise use of shark nets

It all started with a simple video clip, that became a major obsession. Now three St Andrew’s students plan to revolutionise the use of shark nets after winning the national final of the young entrepreneurship program Future Anything.

The Year 9 students, Kiavesh, Ethan and Byron, have developed Aquashield, a prototype and business model to replace shark nets with a new alternative and sustainable design that is reliable, easy to maintain and built with quality materials that last a lifetime.

When tasked with their Year 9 problem solving ideas project earlier in the year, the trio decided to use their passion for helping the environment as the driving force to create a product that would help tackle a major environmental issue.

“I’ve had a great passion for helping the environment ever since I watched my first David Attenborough documentary, it made me realise how amazing the planet is that we’re living in today,” Kiavesh said.

“I remember sitting at the desk on a Sunday afternoon and thinking about how we seem to take so many things for granted in this world and have very little positivity to look at.

“That’s when I came to the true realisation that we are not taking any consideration for the environment and decided that our main focus would be on protecting the environment.

“I was watching an episode of Shark Week on the TV and saw these terrible images of sharks, rays, turtles, and dolphins tangled in shark nets. I then realised that the oceans needed more help environmentally than the land.

“I sat down with the team and discussed the problem with them and after doing loads of research and analysis we all agreed that this was going to be the more interesting of the two problems to solve.”

The innovative design of Aquashield uses magnets, similar to those used in personal shark repellants on the market, by interfering with the sharks’ senses.

After researching, building their prototype and developing a business plan, Kiavesh and his team pitched their idea along with teams from over 40 schools, in Future Anything’s Activate program, which challenges young people to research, develop, and prototype scalable business solutions that make the world a better place.

The team progressed through the rounds and semifinals, eventually pitching their business idea in the grand final, live on YouTube on the Future Anything page.

After a series of fast and furious pitches, some super tough questioning by the judges, and a live People’s Vote, the team were crowned winners, with a $2000 kickstarter fund and a suite of support to launch their business into the real world, which they hope to increase through further business and research backing.

“We plan to follow our proposed timeline by first receiving support from local conservation groups, such as Australian Zoo and SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast,” Kiavesh said.

“We’re going to do a fair amount of work during the holidays, and hopefully install this product in Australia and eventually the world.

“We are also hoping to expand our market in order to be as successful as possible, but in summary, we are hoping that Aquashieldwill be a fully functioning business that will help the environment and improve safety standards to a whole new level.”

Students at St Andrew’s are immersed and actively engaged in creative design and entrepreneurship programs from Year 4 and continue to build these skills as they progress through the years. These programs recognise that many of the jobs now may not exist in the future and that students need to develop entrepreneurial, design and creative thinking skills to be prepared, while balancing the need to live and work sustainably.

“Entrepreneurship as a subject gives me opportunities to learn new skills and possibly to set up a company of our own,” Kiavesh said.

“We’ve certainly seen the potential for what we can do in the future, and we’ve realised that most of these opportunities come once in a lifetime. St Andrews has given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for which we are grateful, and we are proud to have such great support at the College.”