Independent girls’ schools amongst STEM challenge winners

Secondary school students were asked to offer innovative solutions for making cities clean, efficient and vibrant places

The 2019 regional and category winners have been announced in Shell’s national schools’ competition, the Bright Ideas Challenge. Two independent schools, Durham High School for Girls and St Margaret’s School for Girls, were amongst the winners.

By 2070, it’s estimated there will be around 10 billion people on the planet, with demand for energy set to double. This means the world needs to find new ways to produce more energy.

The Bright Ideas Challenge asked young people aged 11-14 to address this demand and imagine innovative solutions for making our future cities clean, efficient, vibrant places to live, work and play. Students were asked to demonstrate their understanding and application of STEM in their entries, as well as their ability to combine it with creative problem solving and teamwork.

Durham High School for Girls were the north east winners, with the idea of a solar-powered streetlight to ensure street lights aren’t reliant on the national grid and would generate enough energy to power themselves at night.

St Margaret’s School for Girls’ were the Aberdeenshire winners, with the idea of extracting the chemical Xanthopterin from the Oriental Hornet and use in cars to convert light energy, captured by a melanin coating, to electrical energy that can power the car’s battery.

Each won £1,500 to boost their school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) learning.


Related news: Bishop’s Stortford College pupils have won a prize at the Amazon Web Services Summit


Speaking about the winning ideas, Marcus-Alexander Neil, Shell UK’s social investment lead, said: “It is a real thrill to see the ingenuity the students have brought to their competition entries. As the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers, they are able look at things from a fresh perspective.

“Our hope is that participating in the Bright Ideas Challenge inspires many of these talented students to apply their classroom learning to real-world problems and become the scientists and engineers the world needs to meet our future energy demand.”

Winning teams will travel to London for a VIP STEM experience, where they will prototype their ideas and compete to be crowned national champions, taking home an additional £3,500 for their school and individual vouchers for team members.

At their VIP STEM experience, teams will take their ideas to the next level in a hands-on prototyping workshop with real engineering graduates at Imperial College London. They will also get a science communication masterclass in a bid to impress an elite panel of judges from prestigious organisations, including Imperial College London, the Royal Academy of Engineers and Teach First.

The Bright Ideas Challenge 2020 is already open for entries.