Over 125 students, teachers and other guests visited the Royal Academy of Engineering on Friday 17 June to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Connecting STEM Teachers (CST), the Academy’s national schools programme.
The event showcased the achievements and impact of the programme and hosted the final of the Sustainable Futures Innovation Challenge, the CST national competition launched in September 2021 by Gitanjali Rao, Time Magazine’s first ever Kid of the Year, as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations.
The challenge invited young people to become engineers and share their ideas for innovations that work towards a sustainable future for our planet and the UK’s goal of reaching net zero. Over 130 teams of students aged between 9 to 14 submitted entries to the competition with creative solutions to tackle some of the biggest problems that are creating carbon emissions and impacting our environment.
Everyone who attended had the opportunity to see displays of the ten projects that had successfully made it through the judging process to make the final shortlist, talk to the teachers and students and vote for the ‘Guests’ Award’. Three schools were presented with prizes by Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The winners were:
Product realisation for the entry with the most buildable and innovative outcome
Larkmead School, Abingdon, Oxon
Heat loss letterboxResearch by the team at Larkmead School showed that up to 27% of heat loss in the hallways of 25 million homes in the UK was down to letterboxes alone, demonstrating that a letterbox is essentially just a hole in your door. To solve the problem, they created an innovation design that reduces heat loss through radiation, conduction and convection. The three key features of their design include: a sliding flap, diagonal sloped slot and the use of non-conductive materials
The Spirit of Engineering award for the best presentation and film demonstrating their STEM journey and engineering habits of mind
Colyton School, Colyford, DevonComposta wrapThe team from Colyton School identified the mass production of products wrapped in plastics caused huge environmental problems and the disposal of these often mean they end up in the ocean and are ingested by sea-creatures causing them to become sick. Their solution was to create a reusable, edible, plastic-free container made from seaweed.
The ‘Guests’ Award’ for the most popular entry nominated by guests during the day
Co-op Academy Manchester, Higher Blackley, Manchester
ECON ‘green’ cities of the futureECON is a collaborative sustainability project undertaken by students from the Co-op Academy. They identified that urban areas are expanding to accommodate a growing population, decreasing green space and impacting negatively on biodiversity. Their solution is to utilize existing technologies and ideology such as vertical farming to create ‘green’ cities of the future.
All three winning teams received a cash prize of £2500 to advance STEM in their school and all students that attended and showcased their solutions received an individual prize of an app-controlled, programmable robotic ball to take away with them.
CST has created a national support network for teachers across all STEM subjects, ensuring they have the knowledge and confidence to engage a greater number and wider spectrum of school students with STEM. Since it started in 2011 with seven teacher coordinators, the scheme has scaled up rapidly each year and now has 50 teacher coordinators across the UK. Over the last decade these teacher coordinators have worked with 8,500 teachers in nearly 6,000 schools and enabled more than 760,000 students to take part in school STEM activities. A publication showcasing the impact of the programme, including a series of 25 inspirational case studies from programme beneficiaries, including STEM teachers and students, can be viewed on the Academy’s website.
Dr Rhys Morgan said: “Connecting STEM Teachers has proved to be a highly successful programme, supporting teachers to engage their students and develop in them an interest and passion for engineering.”
“Central to the success of the programme has been the work of the Academy’s 50 Teacher Coordinators who lead support networks for local teachers across all regions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the last academic year, these talented and enthusiastic individuals trained nearly 2000 STEM teachers from over 1000 primary and secondary schools, resulting in nearly 200,000 school pupils benefitting from STEM enhancement and enrichment activities. By any measure, this is a huge achievement and is particularly impressive given the additional challenges posed by the pandemic. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
Many organisations have collaborated with the Academy to help make CST the success it is today, particularly our partners EngineeringUK and STEM Learning. The Academy is grateful to its strategic partner Shell for significant support of the programme, as well as Amazon, the Arthur Clements Fund, Boeing, the estate of the late Mr John Gozzard, the Helsington Foundation, and the Royal Air Force for their generous and continued support. CST was launched with funding from BG Group in 2011 and has historically received funding from BAE Systems and Petrofac Limited.
Notes for Editors
Media enquiries to: Pippa Cox at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 207 766 0745; email: Pippa.Cox@raeng.org.uk