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Crawley students celebrated for science achievements as STEMfest launches

Local students, teachers and Manor Royal employers officially launched the eighth Crawley STEMfest on Tuesday, with an evening of learning about the latest technological innovations mixed with some silly science-based comedy!



Photo of speakers attached: L-R: Mike Harris Harwoods Jaguar Land Rover, Paula Aldridge Gatwick Airport Limited, Molly Morgan Ifield Community College, Simon Watt, Josh Skiggs Ifield Community College, Steve Sawyer Manor Royal BID

The achievements of young scientists and engineers were celebrated. Students from Crawley College, Ifield Community College, Oriel High School and St Wilfrid’s Catholic School displayed projects they

have been working on in school, including work on a biodegradable plastic that could have serious benefits to the environment. Josh Skiggs and Molly Morgan from Ifield Community College spoke about the solar-powered car they are helping build. They will be taking this to France and Australia later in the year, to race against other schools from across the world.

The keynote address was from Abhi Chacko, Head of IT Commercial and Innovation at Gatwick Airport Limited. Guests learned about future innovations at Gatwick, including robots that can park your car! The event was hosted at Harwoods Jaguar Land Rover and guests were also treated to the latest innovations in car manufacturing with a tour of the workshop and show room.

The evening ended with a big laugh as comedian, science presenter and biologist Simon Watt, took guests through a whirlwind comedic journey, showing us why the blobfish deserves more praise than the cute panda and his own journey from sandwich artist to science comedian.

Crawley STEMfest officially launched for 2019 on 2nd April and will host a series of interactive workshops, shows, demonstrations and other activities in schools from now through to July. STEM in the Park, the large family event, takes place on Saturday 18th May in Memorial Gardens and at Crawley College.

The 2019 festival culminates with the Big Bang Fair South East on 26th and 27th June, when hundreds of businesses and other organisations will provide a wide range of activities for an estimated 12,000 students and their teachers from across the region.

Crawley STEMfest and the Big Bang Fair South East are organised by STEM Sussex, the outreach department of the University of Brighton, in partnership with Crawley Borough Council and Crawley College. Headline sponsors are Gatwick Airport Ltd, while the Crawley STEMfest launch event was sponsored by Manor Royal Business Improvement District (BID).


Crawley pupils reduce local CO2 by Three Tonnes

In just two weeks Crawley school children reduced local air pollution by six kilogrammes of dangerous nitrogen oxide (NOx) and almost three tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) by walking, biking and scootering to school, instead of travelling by car.



Pupils at Waterfield Primary School with Councillor Geraint Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability and Patrick Alexander, Bike It Officer at Sustrans.

As part of cycling and walking charity Sustrans’ annual Big Pedal challenge, children from eight Crawley schools used human power for an astonishing 18,284 journeys. 

This comes hard on the heels of two important new pieces of research:

  • Sustrans published YouGov data in March which showed that almost two-thirds (63%) of teachers would support a school gate vehicle ban during drop-off and pick-up times and that more than half (59%) want urgent Government action to improve air quality near schools
  • Public Health England called on local authorities in March to limit transport emissions urgently, banning idling car engines around schools and investing in foot and cycle paths.

NOx can cause breathing problems, reduced lung function and damage teeth. CO2 is a major contributor to climate change. In Crawley children travelled 12,655 miles actively during the challenge, which equates to travelling almost half way around the world. The reduction in CO2 and NOx was calculated by comparing this to the amount generated if all these journeys had been taken by car.

Councillor Geraint Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability, said:

“It is fantastic to see an increasing number of schools in Crawley taking part in the Sustrans Big Pedal, whilst promoting sustainable travel to young people.”

Children at Waterfield Primary have won special recognition from Sustrans for their Big Pedal achievements, receiving a certificate in a presentation attended by Cllr Geraint Thomas. The Bike It Crew at Waterfield Primary are notoriously competitive. They held a Bike It Breakfast, Bling your Bike and daily assemblies to mass up a total of 4,386 journeys and a total score of 76.91%. 

Justin Moss, the Deputy Head of Waterfield Primary said,

“Our pupils are so motivated when it comes to travelling sustainably; they’re also very competitive. They walk, scoot and cycle regularly so the Big Pedal has been amazing for us over the past few years. We regularly talk about the benefits of exercise with the children in whole school assemblies and because of this the children understand the differences it can make to their moods and their ability to engage in their learning.

“At Waterfield we have an elected Bike It Crew and the Big Pedal is their biggest job during the year. They have worked tirelessly to encourage teachers and children to continue to travel sustainably as well as organising events and judging the Bling your Bike competition. I am extremely proud of them and all of their achievements this year.”

Hot on their heels was Seymour Primary, who organised Bike Days for all children from years three to six. These days provided an opportunity for children to progress their bike skills and have a go on the bike obstacle course. On these days the school was flooded with bicycles, scooters and active children.

Across Crawley eight schools took part, from a potential 35. While we can’t say what the impact would be if it was replicated across Crawley even just for two school terms these findings raise interesting questions.

Sustrans’ Regional Director for the South, James Cleeton, said,

“The children, families and schools of Crawley have shown how individuals can dramatically improve the world around them, by replacing cars with human power for just part of the daily routine.

“These children haven’t just prevented the emission of dangerous, invisible pollutants around their schools, but they’ve improved their mental and physical health, giving all of them a better start to the school day.

“At Sustrans, we’re so grateful to every local authority, school, teacher, parent and child who has helped make this possible. What a great start to summer – and a glimpse of what school mornings in Crawley could be like in future.”

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