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Ballantrae Primary School, South Ayrshire

Project: The Fantastic Litter Pickers

After joining the first online session for STEM the Flow Project the children were excited to be involved in a project that would help to reduce the amount of litter in our local waterways and oceans. The children discussed prior learning experiences around Global Goal 14: Life Below Water and how they could contribute to achieving this goal at a local level. Initially the children were convinced that the pollution in our local area must come from the local River Stinchar and from there, flow into the sea. Having participated in the workshops they decided that they wanted to carry out a study of the river using the Upstream Battle Survey. Whilst participating in the survey the children were surprised by how clean the river was and this led to them questioning where else the litter could be entering our waterways. The children then closely observed the pavements and roads in Ballantrae and concluded that the majority of the litter accumulated around the storm drains and roads beside the shop and the playpark. These discoveries led to research and learning about what Storm Drains do and how they work.

Litter investigation

From this research, the children decided to design a solution that would reduce litter going into our waterways through storm drains, thus helping to locally support Global Goal 14: Life Below Water whilst being mindful of Global Goal 15: Life on Land. Whilst working on the project the children continued to develop various skills including working collaboratively. At times the children had heated debates about the validity of their ideas but were able to go away, research, and come back with information to support their viewpoints.

The group discussed a number of different solutions and then collaboratively decided on a robot with a tail claw that is controlled by a remote that they believe will be a solution to addressing source to sea marine litter. The robot will have the capability to drive around. It will have sensors to detect the rubbish. Once the sensor picks up the presence of rubbish the tail claw will be activated to pick up the rubbish that has been blown about by the wind. The robot has a built-in bag that it swaps when it is full. The robot can be used at night as the eyes and ears light up, so cars don’t run it over.

Scientific poster

Design

Team conclusion

As we got closer to the drains, what we saw really shocked us. There was more rubbish than we had expected and this led us to our design to stop rubbish entering the waterways at the point of the drains.

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