All-girl team from Manchester triumph in national STEM competition

Television presenter Rachel Riley, right, and mathematician Bobby Seagull, left, stand with the winners of The Bright Ideas Challenge on day two of Make the Future Live 2018 at the Queen Olympic Park on Thursday, July 6 2018, in London (Ed Robinson/Shell)

A team of four Year 9 students from Whalley Range High School in Manchester has fought off tough competition from hundreds of schools across England, Scotland and Wales to become the national champions of The Bright Ideas Challenge, Shell’s annual science competition for students aged 11-14 years.

With energy demands set to double by 2050, The Bright Ideas Challenge invites students to use their STEM skills, combined with creativity and teamwork, to come up with innovative energy solutions for making our future cities vibrant, healthy and clean places to live.

The winning team identified the energy created by city populations’ taking millions of steps a day as a potential source of energy and proposed the creation of ‘Electroes’.  These innovative power generating shoes would activate special piezoelectric discs built into the shoe’s soles to convert kinetic (movement) energy into use electrical energy to power personal devices.

The team’s creative energy idea took centre stage at Make the Future Live, a four day festival of innovation, held at The Olympic Park in London, where the team were also VIP guests.

At the festival hundreds of members of the public voted for the team’s ‘Electroes’ to win The Bright Ideas Challenge.  As a result of becoming national champions for The Bright Ideas Challenge, the team of girls, Khadija Kubra, Fatima Zahra, Saffiya Ahmad and Fatima Naser won £5,000 to spend on state of the art science equipment for their school.

The team of four were presented with their prize by Rachel Riley, Bright Ideas Challenge Ambassador and Bobby Seagull, University Challenge champion, Maths teacher and STEM ambassador.

Saffiya Ahmad, the team captain from Whalley Range School said: “Seeing our idea take centre stage at such a massive international festival that’s all about innovation, and knowing that it’s been voted as the public’s favourite ‘bright idea’, is a totally unforgettable moment for the whole team.

“It’s been so fun using what we’ve learnt with our science teacher to solve real world problems and help make a difference to all our lives in the future.”

Speaking about The Bright Ideas Challenge, Stephen Metcalf MP, The Government’s envoy for the Year of Engineering, commented: “It was a huge privilege to sit on Shell’s Bright Ideas Challenge judging panel and see the amazing creativity and talent of children from across the country.

“It’s so important that we help young people understand the connection between what they are learning in class and the impact those skills can have in shaping a better, brighter future. I hope that competitions like this inspire more children to become the scientists, engineers, innovators and problem solvers of the future.”

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