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Young people celebrated for STEM the Flow creativity

For a second consecutive year we invited pupils from across the Clyde region to the Riverside Museum in Glasgow to showcase their solutions to source to sea litter as part of the STEM the Flow competition.

More than 50 pupils attended the event from East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire to present their projects to event guests, fellow participants and the public.

The competition entries were judged by a panel of representatives from industry and education partners who supported the STEM the Flow competition, including Jacobs Engineering, The West Partnership and #TeamKSB. Awards were presented to winning projects in five categories, each receiving a trophy made from reclaimed marine plastic.

The winner for the Most Innovative Solution was Crookfur Primary School, East Renfrewshire. Pupils chose to create a solution that could be installed in burns and rivers, following their visit to Capelrig Burn during their investigation. Judges particularly liked the engineering ingenuity and creativity of the project, which uses a system of nets, booms and scoops to collect litter floating on the surface and submerged in the water. For their presentation the Litter Engineering Team build a functioning model, complete with ‘catapult’ and pulleys, to show its operation.

The winner of the Most Sustainable Solution was Uddingston Grammar School, South Lanarkshire. Whilst investigating their local area, pupils noticed that the current casing on drains was allowing litter to pass through easily. As a result the team from Uddingston, comprising of the whole Geography Club, developed a sieve made from bamboo that would be placed over storm drains in towns and cities to trap litter and prevent it entering watercourses. The judges commended the cost-effective solution and use of sustainable resources, including using leaves and organic matter collected by the device to grow the materials to produce it.

The winner of the Best Investigation was St Edward’s Primary School, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire. The Marine Machine Team’s solution - Robofish – is an autonomous drone made from bioplastic. During multiple visits to the North Calder Water for their investigation, the pupils noticed the amount of plastic in the river. The investigation and research for Robofish was recognised as it addressed the specific issue of microplastics and was designed with this in mind, with all aspects of the concept considering how to remove microplastics form our waterways.   

The winner of the Best Teamwork was Torrance Primary School, East Dunbartonshire. Judges felt that the Marine Clean Team worked exceptionally in their team to allocate roles and responsibilities, including research and investigation, initial design and final concept, and even contacted local companies to get professional advice and sample materials. The team also demonstrated a whole-school focus to raising awareness of source to sea litter in their local area, by sharing the results of their litter survey in an assembly.

The winner of the Best Overall Project was Robert Owen Memorial Primary School, Lanark, South Lanarkshire. Two teams of pupils took part in the STEM the Flow project, each with a different but complementary solution to issues of source to sea litter, and the panel sought it fit to award the Best Overall Project to both groups for thinking about how the solutions would work together. Both projects used drones in the shape of animals as to have least disturbance on the wildlife, which move around and locate and suck up litter – Daisy duck and Sam salamander. Judges like that the pupils had considered the impact of litter on wildlife, as the drones are fitted with cameras to detect animals that had been hurt by litter, monitor their health and even transport them to nearby research vessel for treatment. Robert Owen Memorial Primary School were celebrated for their whole-school approach to Learning for Sustainability, with a strong focus on the UN SDGs, particularly Life Below Water and the numerous activities within the school and local community to address source to sea litter, including regular Upstream Battle litter picks along waterways and poster design campaigns.

Barry Fisher, our Chief Executive, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed attending our STEM the Flow challenge at the Riverside Museum earlier this week.

"We had some fantastic entries from schools across the Clyde Valley and it was great to be a judge and witness the pupils' creativity, teamwork, research and design work that was involved in submitting their entry.

"Stopping marine litter at source is a crucial part of reversing Scotland's litter emergency and it's so inspiring to see such brilliant ideas coming from our young people. I'd like to congratulate and thank them all for taking part."

STEM the Flow was delivered with support from Jacobs Engineering whose STEAM Ambassadors worked with pupils throughout the project, with many of them arranging web calls or schools visits to help during the research and design process. The exhibition event at the Riverside Museum was supported by The West Partnership RIC.

Liz McTiernan, Workstream Lead Officer for Curriculum, Learning, Teaching and Assessment at The West Partnership, said: "The West Partnership are delighted to support the Keep Scotland Beautiful STEM the Flow programme. It was a privilege to be part of the judging team for the event at the Riverside Museum. 

"This event was the culmination of months of hard work by pupils in developing an engineering-based solution to a local issue. The young people showcased with confidence and enthusiasm their solutions to tackling ‘source to sea’ litter around the River Clyde. Well done to all our participating schools and to our winners in each category. You should all be very proud of what you have achieved!”

Click here to learn more about Upstream Battle® or you can register for our #SpringCleanScotland 2024 and the Litter League.

09 February 2024

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