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Crawley students scoop hundreds in prize money for Big Bang competition

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Shriya Chudasama and Chinazo Okeke, Year 12 students from St Wilfrid’s Catholic Comprehensive School in Crawley, West Sussex have been awarded the senior runner up prize in the science category at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition, for their project titled ‘Plastic Pilot’.

Shriya and Chinazo developed a biodegradable plastic alternative after concerns that our oceans have become dumping grounds, posing a threat to wildlife. The alternative developed can degrade on land within weeks and in water within days, but is also safe for consumption by marine animals.

Shriya and Chinazo reached the UK finals of The Competition having won a place in the Big Bang Fair South East regional heats.

Over 300 young people from across the country were selected to be finalists of The Big Bang Competition, an annual contest designed to recognise and reward young people’s achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as helping them build skills and confidence in project-based work. 

The finals usually take place at The Big Bang Fair each March but when that was cancelled in light of the coronavirus, the team at the Big Bang Fair asked finalists to submit a video presentation from which 50 STEM professionals with specialisms across a range of areas including astronomy, antimicrobials, health monitoring, underwater acoustics and toxicology identified the winners.

The pupilswin £250 in prize money to continue on their STEM journey as well as a trophy and certificate. 

The winners of GSK UK Young Engineer and GSK UK Young Scientist of the Year will be announced in early April. 

Previous winners have gone on to enjoy a range of other achievements on the back of their successes – including winning international awards in China and the US, getting backing from businesses for their projects, and taking part in conference presentations to industry professionals as well as appearing on the television and radio shows to talk about their project.

Congratulating the winners, Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, which organises The Big Bang Competition, said:

“The judges have been blown away by the quality of entries from all the finalists – not only for their brilliant new ideas but for how eloquently they spoke about them in their videos that were submitted.

We’ve also been really impressed with all of the students for their passion and resilience in taking part this year in spite of the hugely challenging circumstances, including some students being in self-isolation during the process. Huge congratulations to Shriya and Chinazo whose innovative project has seen them awarded as the senior runner up in the science category of The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition.

“It certainly bodes well for the future that the scientists, engineers and inventors of tomorrow are already producing such astute and creative project work – congratulations to all those involved.”

Coronavirus

Parents demand a choice on whether to send children back to school

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Over 300,000 people have signed a petition by parents campaigning to be given a choice on whether or not to send kids back to school if schools reopen in June. 

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans for reopening schools in Sunday’s speech. He said schools may begin to return from the earliest of June 1st – starting with those in reception.

Lucy Browne who started the petition on Change.org said:

“Many of us have lost confidence in the Government’s handling of this crisis and feel it is too early to return children to schools. As a mum I don’t want to face serious repercussions for making a choice I feel affects the safety of my daughter during a global pandemic.” 

Lucy’s daughter is at primary school in London and would be one of the first to return.

Deborah Mawer who signed the petition said:

“I have a child with asthma and asthma myself and would not feel safe sending them out to potentially then have us both very very ill.”

Teaching staff are also raising concerns over the government’s plans. Michelle Forster who signed the petition wrote:

“I am a teacher and believe that we cannot return to school safely as we do not have the correct equipment, space or resources to manage the pupils and ensure social distancing measures and PPE. Returning to school before it is safe puts thousands of pupils, families and staff at risk.”

The petition has over 300,000 and has been the fastest growing petition on Change.org UK since the Prime Minister’s speech on the 10th May. Lucy’s petition can be found at Change.org/WhenSchoolsOpen

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