Green could yield science-awards gold

Kent Renewable Energy general manager Colin Dobson

Enter Bright Sparks 

Young people around the world are currently taking the vanguard in campaigning for a cleaner, greener planet, with children across Kent among those taking part in a series of Youth Strike 4 Climate protests this year.

Not everyone approves of the school strikes, however, with some critics citing their potentially disruptive impact on pupils’ education.

But one way of channelling children’s environmental engagement in a way that might be more complementary to their studies is provided by school-science competition the Bright Spark Awards.

The awards encourage teams of pupils to use cross-curricular skills in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects in practical projects, and one judging organisation in particular is keen to see entries relating to the environment and clean energy.

First-time Bright Spark judge Colin Dobson is general manager of Kent Renewable Energy. The Sandwich firm creates energy from its biomass plant for fellow judging organisation Discovery Park and the local grid in east Kent.

Mr Dobson said: “We’re keen to encourage people to get involved in engineering, and that’s why Kent Renewable Energy wants to be involved in the Bright Spark initiative.

“From the applications, we’re looking for people that are looking at what our business does ‑ producing electricity but also considering the environmental impacts of generating electricity.

“If we get good candidates covering those fields of electricity and the environment, we’d look to offer them an experience day around the site to get a better understanding of how a power station works.”

The awards are open to primary and secondary schools, and there are three categories: innovation, investigation and invention.

Last year, there were a number of projects focusing on renewable energy and environmental issues.

Pupils from Dartford Science and Technology School, for example, used old water bottles to generate affordable electricity and reduce plastic waste.

While the Brilliant Biogas project from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Faversham used biomethane produced from apples, bread and water to generate electricity.

The deadline for submitting entries this year is May 31, and shortlisted teams will present their projects to the judges at a Dragons’ Den-style awards ceremony at Discovery Park in July.

Apart from Kent Renewable Energy and Discovery Park, the other judging organisations are Pfizer, Atkins Global, Megger, The ITL Group, EduKit, Highways England, BAE Systems, Global Associates and Golding Vision.

Find out more about the awards by visiting or contacting event coordinator Hannah Hawksworth at or on 0844 264 0291.

And watch a video in which Mr Dobson talks about Kent Renewable Energy’s involvement with the awards here:

About the Author