Schools from across Kent and London gathered for the awards ceremony of school-science competition the Bright Spark Awards last week (Friday, July 5).
The top prize of £500 went to a collaborative project involving eight pupils from three member schools of the Tenterden Schools Trust.
Joshua Hobson and Oskar Payne from Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, Summer Stewart-Welch, Bethany-Anne Holman and Fraser Anderson from Tenterden C of E Junior School, and Jayden Endacott, Tilly Entwistle and Katelyn Phillips from St Michael’s C of E Primary School worked together on the Preserving Diversity Project.
The project aimed to increase biodiversity on the schools’ sites and in Tenterden town centre.
Awards coordinator Hannah Hawksworth said: “Many, many congratulations to Tenterden Schools Trust and all the other young people who impressed everybody so much with their Bright Spark projects this year.
“One of the things that distinguished the Preserving Diversity Project was the emphasis on cooperation between children of different ages and at different sites.
“And that sort of collaborative approach is the definition of good scientific practice.”
The awards were open to primary and secondary schools across the south-east, and encouraged teams of pupils to use cross-curricular skills in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects in practical projects.
The Dragons’ Den-style ceremony took place at Discovery Park in Sandwich.
The 13 finalists were quizzed by the judges about their projects before the announcement of the overall champion, eight other winners, and special prizes in the three awards categories of Investigation, Innovation and Invention.
The judging panel comprised representatives of Discovery Park, Atkins Global, Megger, Global Associates, Pfizer R&D UK Ltd, BAE Systems, The ITL Group, Golding Vision, Apogee Skills and Kent Renewable Energy.
Robert Crook of Pfizer stressed the importance of the awards in inspiring a new generation of talent in Britain’s tech-based industries.
He said: “Events like these are critical for the future of the country. We talked with ITL this morning about the challenge of getting engineers into industry, of getting good-quality people into industry – particularly in smaller companies.
“By the 2030s we’ll be a million engineers short in the UK from what we need.”
And Becky Lipscomb of the ITL Group was impressed by the high number of girls among this year’s winners.
She said: “It’s been really great this year to see so many girls involved. Last year and the year before, it was predominantly male, so it’s been really good to see a lot of females get involved, and we hope to see more involved again next year.”
The full list of winners was:
Preserving Biodiversity Project: Joshua Hobson, Oskar Payne , Summer Stewart-Welch, Bethany-Anne Holman, Fraser Anderson, Jayden Endacott, Tilly Entwistle and Katelyn Phillips of Tenterden Schools Trust; winners of the £500 overall champions prize.
Project Electrospinning: Jasper Ostle, Luca Shawcross, Oliver Newcombe and Charlotte Todd from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham; chosen by Pfizer and Discovery Park. The children will be treated to lunch and a tour of Pfizer’s Discovery Park laboratories.
Radioactive Tea: Molly Bosworth and Lucy Kennett of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School; chosen by the ITL Group, who invented the pair to spend a day with the firm’s engineering team.
Project Asgard: Keziah Tate, Bryn Scholefield, Bethany Poulteney, Jessica Nock and Javier Gladstone-Contios of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School; chosen by Megger, who will treat the children to an experience-day prize tour of the firm’s Dover factory.
Pulse Project: Chloe Smith of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School; chosen by Global Associates, and winner of £50 of iTunes vouchers.
Plant Peace Project: Taite Redhead and Olayinka Ashipa of Ark Greenwich Free School; chosen by Golding Vision, who will treat the children to an experience-day prize tour of the business’s Maidstone offices.
Recycle and Create: Emily Elbourne of Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre; chosen by Global Associates.
Augmented Reality Project: Leunner Caicedo, Charles Clayton and Bruno Silva of Ark Evelyn Grace Academy; chosen by BAE Systems, who will treat the children to a demonstration of the company’s Eurofighter Typhoon flight simulator in Rochester.
Fluidization in Fuel Tanks: William Herbert, Ben Lewis and James Adams of Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre; chosen by Kent Renewable Energy, who invited the children to visit its plant.
There were four other finalists: the Solar Tile and Forest Fire Detector projects from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys; the Bottle Bandit Bin team from Ark Greenwich Free School; and the Haptic Sensor Glove project from Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School.
Watch a video of the awards ceremony here: