A solar distiller to purify or desalinate water, a scarce resource in the Antofagasta Region, which makes this resource drinkable through an evaporation and condensation process, is the invention that led a group of students from the Kamac Mayu School, led by their teacher Tomás Véliz, to win Enel’s Play Energy award.
This is a contest that Enel holds in seven Latin American countries. In Chile, 84 schools participated with different proposals for innovative projects, 12 of which were selected for the grand finale that was won by the Calama delegation.
The contest was promoted by Enel Distribución in the Metropolitan Region and by Enel Generación and Enel Green Power in regions, with the aim of teaching schoolchildren the intelligent and creative use of energy to build a more sustainable future, protect the environment, and consume electricity intelligently.
"Having been selected was very important for us and winning first place filled us with pride, because it leaves our school and our city of Calama in a good position", explained Professor Tomás Véliz.
He is a 63-year-old man who loves what he does, which is why he has been teaching for 46 of those years. He says that being with children, learning their problems and helping them, and seeing generations of students have motivated him for years.
"Today, the new generation is a little more complicated for me, because I am an old-school teacher, and now, since children are involved with all this new technology, cell phones, computers, it is difficult to teach them. Now they have more personality, but I think we have to adapt to the new generations. I feel fulfilled as a teacher," he commented.
The teacher is moved to tears with this award, because he is two years from retirement and it feels like an accomplishment. In the midst of so much technology and screens, at his age, he managed to attract attention and develop creativity in his students. He did it well and this award proves it.
Upon receiving this distinction, Véliz takes time to look back. He said that at the beginning of his career he was a physical education teacher, but he has been dedicated to science for 14 years. "Due to a situation that happened years ago in a school, I had to become the science teacher, since physical education has something to do with science, due to knowing the characteristics of the human body. At the beginning it was very difficult, but later I started to improve and was self-taught, and I've been doing science for 13 or 14 years," he said with a laugh, but with great pride.
Now he is coming to the end of his career and surely the proximity of his retirement has affected him. "I’ve not been doing very well psychologically, because after having given my whole life to education, I will no longer be a contribution to society and I will have to leave Calama because it is a very expensive city to live in" he explained between uncontainable tears and a long pause. Before leaving he said he plans to run a campaign called "Te Amo Calama" (I Love Calama) to raise the pride of the Calama people for their city.
"I really appreciate it, because all these things I do with a lot of love for my students, and for my city. Being a teacher is not easy, but it fills me with pride, because I have seen my students and alumni doing well, and that is the best prize I can receive. I am grateful to Enel, who gave me and my students a chance to win this award that is very important to me, to my family, to my wife, my son, and we are terribly proud to have a national award, and, at my age, that is absolutely significant," he concluded.