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Harnessing technology to make a better world
More than 120 teenagers from schools across the UK presented projects designed to make life ‘easier, simpler or better’ to a host of celebrities and judges at the TeenTech Awards. Education Business looks at this year’s stand out entries.
TeenTech events are designed to educate and enthuse young people about the future possibilities available to them in the fields of science, engineering and technology. With technology infiltrating growing industries like cyber security set to offer over 4.5 million more jobs worldwide by 2019, TeenTech aims to drive awareness of the wide range of career opportunities available to the youth of today. The TeenTech Awards, hosted on 16 June at the Royal Society London, saw over 120 students from across the width and breadth of the country present their projects to a panel of expert judges, including: TeenTech founder and Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin; Professor Brian Cox; Channel 4’s Dr Christian Jessen; and MP Jo Johnson.
Following last year’s awards, Education Business revealed that one project has successfully made the transition into product. Pupils from Park House school in Newbury have visited Gambia where their contribution to an innovative way to ensure water taps are kept in working order is already being put into practice. The students have worked alongside Africa Water Enterprises, a UK registered charity, to develop ‘eWaterTap,’ a device for use in developing countries to aid communities in water system management.
Other successful previous entries include ‘Indicate’, a high visibility jacket for cyclists designed by pupils from James Allen’s Girls’ School in London, which allows cyclists to indicate using LED lights on their back and is being brought to market and sold in Maplin stores. Iona and Alice from the school returned to the Awards this year to showcase the working prototype of their product.
They said: “For us, TeenTech has been a really life changing experience that’s helped us see the world in a different way. It’s made us realise that if you have ideas you don’t have to wait to be 18 or wait until you graduate from university to make something of them. You can start whenever you want – coming up with ideas and designing products that can actually make a difference and people want to use.”
Women in engineering
Over 800 girls across the UK participated in this year’s competition, and with Women in Engineering day having recently passed, it was encouraging to see that eight of the 20 category prizes were won by teams of girls. This included the Design and Construction prize for a remarkable design for an ‘Emergency Necklace Bridge’ and a cancer detecting bra. These positive female numbers clearly demonstrate that girls are just as enthusiastic as boys when it comes to developing tech ideas that will change our world.
‘Bras with Benefits’ was the winner of the Wearable Technology Category.
Created by Alexandria Hall, a 15 year-old from Alton Convent School, BwB – Bras with Benefits is a cancer detecting bra, designed to identify early stage breast cancer before outward signs are visible.
Alexandria said of her win: “Everyone knows someone affected by cancer and what’s more it’s not just the person diagnosed who suffers – it’s their friends, family, and loved ones too. So when we were asked to ‘solve a problem’ that seemed a good place to start.”
Isabelle and Kyoka, also of James Allen’s Girls’ School, won for their idea ‘GreenNet’, a biodegradable fishing net that will break down in water after only two weeks. Minimising damage and destruction, this product was heralded as the winner the environment category.
The award categories spanned several sectors, including healthcare, education, transport, energy and environment, amongst others. David, Sankha and Hari from Loughborough Grammar School won in the healthcare category for their design – Medivest.
The product is a unique, advanced piece of wearable technology designed to combat the often crippling cases of severe epilepsy, allowing patients to monitor and send their vital signs to their doctors from the comfort of their homes in a safe, accurate and crucially non-invasive manner.
In the education category, the focus of the winning product was on school trip decision making. Woldingham School celebrated as Milan, Imogen and Maria won for their product ‘MyST App’.
This app is designed for teachers to use to find new and exciting school trips that they would like to take their class on. Trips can be arranged for all age groups and Key Stages with over 20 subjects included and over 100 excursions to choose from.
Elsewhere, Adwaith, a student from Westcliffe High School for Boys, set about investigating different forms of fuels and alternate engine configurations. The result was the Palat Engine, the emission from which is almost pure water, and the energy prize.
Meanwhile, Casper, David and Oliver created ‘Sensosafe’, a versatile bike light that senses when a car is approaching and notifies the cyclist.
This innovative product from the boys at Caterham School was the winner in the transport category.
The manufacturing award was held aloft by Chloe, Lini and Ashley from Loughborough High School for their ‘Steerclear’ product. The idea behind the model is to adapt the modern steering wheel to make driving a more enjoyable experience whilst making it safer and more interesting to drive.
Additionally, Iona, Isabel and Lucy from Alton Convent School won the future of food category for ‘Natural Nutrients’. Driven by three concerns – the global levels of poverty and malnutrition, the loss of our rainforests and the need to empower local communities to support themselves – Natural Nutrients capitalises on the resources of a living rainforest, providing local people with the tools and skills to produce nutritious food supplements from edible bugs.
Speaking after the Awards, Maggie Philbin said: “Every year we are blown away by the exceptional standard of entries coming through the awards, and this year has been no exception. The Awards offer an incredible opportunity for businesses, and academics to get a genuine insight into just how entrepreneurial and tech-savvy the youngsters of today can prove to be.
“With the right support, the kids of today display bundles of enthusiasm and time and again prove how capable they are of shaping the future in a really positive way. The Awards are without doubt the highlight of the TeenTech calendar and really sum up what we’re about; embracing creative talent, putting youngsters face-to-face with industry professionals, and encouraging them to see the power and potential of their ideas.”