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Two hundred local pupils attend Eco summit at Crawley school

The Gatwick sponsored ‘Eco, Young, and Engaged’ (EYE) conference saw eight local schools and 200 pupils from Crawley and Horsham attend Ifield Community College on Monday to get a practical understanding of the environment and the importance of sustainability.

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Aged between six and seventeen, pupils chose between 13 workshops where they could learn about making their own compost and the wildlife within it, and about the effect that different clothing materials have on the environment and therefore which ones are more sustainable to buy and wear.

Other workshops included practical team challenges on how to upcycle (reuse) everyday items – such as using old milk bottles as planters for herbs – and how to harness the power of both wind turbines and solar panels to generate electricity.

The conference is part of the wider EYE campaign which seeks to bring schools in West Sussex together to focus on the importance of caring for our planet – to promote sustainability and encourage young people’s interest in environmental issues.

Gatwick’s Head of Sustainability, Rachel Thompson, gave an introductory talk on what sustainability is and its importance for protecting the environment.  She also discussed Gatwick’s ‘Decade of Change’ report, which tracks the airport’s progress on ten sustainability targets set over a ten year period (2010 to 2020), and explained how Gatwick’s buildings and fleet are carbon neutral.

The sponsorship of the conference is part of Gatwick’s wider community engagement programme which aims to make lasting and positive impacts to local communities and young people. Gatwick is also partnering with 15 local schools as part of the Primary Engineer programme to help schools teach STEM-based subjects in a more relatable and practical way to inspire more students to study the subjects.

Rachel Thompson, Head of Sustainability, Gatwick Airport said:

“It was great to see the enthusiasm of the students and hear their excellent questions and ideas. We hope today’s event will inspire more eco school projects and also encourage more students to consider studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and pursuing careers in sustainability.”

Irram Ali, Ifield Community College Eco Lead, said:

“It was an honour to have been able to host the first Eco-Summit in Crawley. At Ifield Community College we are focused on encouraging our students to proactively engage with environmental issues and this was an excellent opportunity for such engagement to take place. All students were passionate and enthused and will hopefully implement some of their new knowledge in our local schools and community.”

Education

Crawley student crowned winner of national STEM competition

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A student from St Wilfrid’s Catholic Comprehensive School has been named winner in the Senior category of the Youth Industrial Strategy Competition, a national science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) initiative, supported by UK Research and Innovation, aimed at finding solutions to the greatest challenges facing modern society.

Claiming first prize, year 13 student, Rushil Patel, presented a project that uses offline artificial intelligence to accurately process a specific object or event in the world around the user, conveying limitless information in the most discrete way possible. Addressing the Grand Challenge of Artificial Intelligence and Data, the young inventor hopes it can help people with Autism not only identify, but also respond to perceived emotions.

Judged remotely by a panel of STEM experts, including representatives from Network Rail; AI architects, Arm; and Manchester Metropolitan University, Rushil was awarded first place thanks to his creativity and innovative way of addressing the Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenge of Artificial Intelligence and Data.

Rushil, student at St Wilfrid’s Catholic Comprehensive School said:

“I am thrilled to have won the Senior category at the Youth Industrial Strategy competition. I really enjoyed working on our project and it was great to have the judges recognise the hard work and creativity that went into it.

“This competition has provided me with a great opportunity to get creative with my learning and it was incredibly rewarding to work on a project that could help solve one of the most pressing social issues today.”

With the live finals event cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the competition organisers, the British Science Association and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) asked schools to create videos of students presenting their finished projects and the information they’d been planning to share with judges.

Rushil and his teachers have worked incredibly hard to help enable the remote judging, especially at such a challenging time for schools and families across the UK and deserve special credit for their efforts.

Tom Saunders, Head of Public Engagement at UKRI, said:

“As this AI communications device shows, today’s students have an important part to play in addressing society’s biggest challenges. I would like to congratulate Rushil on his fantastic winning project and wish all the finalists every continued success in the future.”

Caitlin Brown, Project Manager for the Youth Industrial Strategy Competition, said:

“The judges commended Rushil for his hard work, dedication and commitment to STEM. He thoroughly deserves to be crowned our Youth Industrial Strategy Competition Senior winner.

“We are thrilled with the level of engagement and interest we have received around the Youth Industrial Strategy Competition, and are excited to see all these students, and more, continue to develop their love of STEM.”

The winners and runners up were selected from thousands of students, aged between 11-19 years, from across the UK, who designed projects responding to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s four Grand Challenges: the Future of Mobility, Ageing Society, Clean Growth and Artificial Intelligence and Data.

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