"RT @Scholastic: April is National Stress Awareness Month, and Junior Scholastic has tips for kids on how to relieve stress: https://t.co/qb…"
2 hours ago
"RT @tes: 'The worst insult anyone could ever say about my teaching would be “he’s too busy trying to be the kids’ mate”' https://t.co/2XWJx…"
6 hours ago
"Teach #primary pupils about the effects of the sun with @GarnierUK 's #WrapSplatHat programme. Limited packs left:… https://t.co/3rf3ANw5zc"
8 hours ago
"Help your pupils get to grips with STEM subjects with @GWRHelp's #RunTheRailway game for ages 9-11:… https://t.co/IM1coIYgAX"
3 days ago
"#WrapSplatHat is back for #Summer2017! Register today to get your free pupil sun safety passports:… https://t.co/z1RVu412af"
3 days ago
"Just some really cute cats to brighten your Friday :) https://t.co/2wMEFuJ4oo"
3 days ago
"RT @GuardianTeach: Five proven hacks to help students tackle revision https://t.co/ZtXUmk41uD"
4 days ago
"RT @AlfiesArmy2017: @ChildreninWales Are you aged 17-21 and fancy the challenge of a lifetime? Pls RT Apply now - https://t.co/sOOBPdnw01…"
5 days ago
"RT @NatWest_Help: How should schools teach money? Junior Consultant Mog finds out as he holds a boardroom discussion with other young peopl…"
6 days ago
"Sign-up to get your free #WrapSplatHat #sun safety pupil passports for primary pupils here: https://t.co/cjmXvk8WAe https://t.co/9Uy86SdoTc"
6 days ago
"Looking for a fun curriculum linked activity for KS2? Take a look at @GWRHelp's #RunTheRailway STEM resources:… https://t.co/tyAre7SYj4"
7 days ago
"Teach primary pupils how to have fun in the sun safely with @GarnierUK's free #WrapSplatHat programme… https://t.co/YIh0ShKx53"
10 days ago
"Bring learning to life with @GWRHelp's #RunTheRailway STEM based game for ages 9-11. Find out more & register:… https://t.co/YVuXzP3BP5"
12 days ago
"Show your 5-11 year olds how to have #fun in the sun safely with #WrapSplatHat. Register for free pupil passports:… https://t.co/CKm2rAqVjz"
13 days ago
"Has your school had to ask parents for money? https://t.co/dgYAyvBUu1"
14 days ago
"#WrapSplatHat is back! Register today for your free pupil sun awareness passports, before they all go!… https://t.co/K47VZtjcAF"
14 days ago
"Our Bonne Maman #fromseedtotable strawberries are coming along nicely! https://t.co/kxjVzDDJJw"
17 days ago
"RT @stcolmansps: #schoolsgrowtomatoes P2 have challenged Mr O'Neill to see who can grow the best tomato 🍅 fruit! #GameOn! #beattheteacher #…"
17 days ago
"RT @stcolmansps: P2 are really enjoying learning about how tomatoes grow and what can be made from tomatoes 🍅 #schoolsgrowtomatoes @NSP_tea…"
17 days ago
"We love seeing our resources in action! https://t.co/92upQZvdsu"
17 days ago
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Innovation-option-1-cropped

The future of environmental discovery

Posted on Monday, June 10th, 2013

We live in a changing world. The globe is warming, species are being driven into extinction and our seas are poisoned. The effects of our booming population and industrialisation are hard to determine but have the potential to do catastrophic damage to our planet.

But the uncertainties of the future not only present us with challenges, they also provide us with opportunities. Companies and individuals that can innovate in the face of difficulties will not only flourish, but will be able to benefit our world as a whole.

As is often the case, our greatest natural resource is our people and it is here that we must invest. In 2008, Daniel Burd won first prize at the Canadian Science Fair. He knew that plastic bags are sometimes consumed by wildlife, often with lethal consequences, and wanted to do something to stop this. Though each bag can take up to one hundred thousand years to degrade Daniel realised that there must be something in landfill sites that causes the eventual disintegration. He bred soil bacteria collected from his local rubbish tip and isolated a few species that fed upon strips of polythene. He managed to find a way of breaking plastics down within three months and believes that his findings could be scaled up to an industrial scale. He was only sixteen years old at the time of his discovery.

Competitions and collaborations can be used to not only enhance the education of young people, but to engage them with the contemporary environmental issues of our time. Furthermore, they give them the opportunity to make genuinely useful and creative contributions to business.

Eesha Khare, an 18 year old Californian pupil, was recently awarded $50,000 by the Intel Foundation after developing a tiny super-capacitor that fits inside mobile phone batteries, allowing them to charge within 20-30 seconds. This device not only has the potential to make our lives much more convenient but is environmentally sound as it can be used for up to 10,000 charge-recharge cycles, ten times more than our current rechargeable batteries. Although still at a developmental stage it is considered likely that the device will eventually go into production on an industrial scale.

Small-scale changes can also make a big difference. Pupils and teachers at Polesden Lacey school in Surrey worked together with staff from Unilever to create a ‘Grow Your Own Vegetable’ scheme as part of the Eco-Schools project. Together they cleared an unused area of waste land to make way for a vegetable patch that is now used as part of Science, PHSE, Literacy and Geography lessons as well as by local community groups. The scheme strengthened the community, supplemented the fruit and vegetables available in the school cafeteria and generated valuable publicity for the business partners involved.

The minds of the young are a rich seam that we must mine. It is essential that we inspire the workforce of the future to rise to the challenge of improving our world and equip them with the skills that will enable them to make a difference.

By Simon Watt, Science Communicator

 

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