TALENTED youngsters from a Rotherham secondary school have beaten off competition from 15 other schools in South Yorkshire to win a much-coveted Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics competition (STEM).
Six Year 9 pupils from Swinton Academy – Jacob Wildgoose, Luke Auty, Jacob Lawrence, Amy Newton, Thamindu Silva and Jack Kettell - presented their Greenhouse Project to a panel of esteemed engineers, lecturers and scientists at the final of the Go4Set STEM competition, which was held at Sheffield Hallam University and sponsored by Liberty Steel.
They were awarded with a trophy for the best overall project and each received a bronze level in the Industrial Cadet Scheme for prospective scientists and engineers.
The eco-friendly greenhouse is made from more than 1,500 recycled plastic bottles collected by students at Swinton Academy.
It has a timber frame, made from wood donated by Kilnhurst Timber Yard, and will also feature a unique watering system made entirely from melted down bottle lids. The greenhouse will host a variety of herbs, plants and vegetables, which will be used in science lessons involving food tests and plant dissections and Design Technology food preparation lessons.
Darin Bell and Rob Turton, science teachers at Swinton Academy, and the school careers advisor, Sarah Sykes, have been championing the project. Mr Bell said: “Our students chose to build a greenhouse for the South Yorkshire STEM competition out of plastic bottles in order to raise awareness of the importance of recycling. They have been inspired by documentaries, videos and news articles which show the severe impact that plastic is having on the environment.
“Students have seen the unfortunate consequences of not recycling on the biodiversity of wildlife and have really thrown themselves into the project.
“All tutor groups have learned about the impact of single-use plastic on the environment, how our academy already recycles and what more we could do.
“We recently held a ‘plastic bottle drive’ where students received an achievement point for each plastic bottle they brought into school. We intend to use every bit of the bottle; we’re melting down the lids to build into planters with the aim of making a water collection and automatic watering system.
“Climate change is one of the UK’s most pressing concerns among young people and we’re delighted to be doing our bit to help save the planet here at Swinton.
“Our students – 30 of them in total worked on the project – did the academy proud and really showed off their brilliance, intelligence and heart. It’s been a real team effort and the pupils are an inspiration.”
Public concern about the environment and climate change has soared to a record high in the UK, according to a recent report by polling company YouGov. Young people now rate environmental problems as one of their top worries, just behind Brexit.
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