Trying to capture the energy and enthusiasm in the room when students begin working on their Big Ideas for Solutions for the Planet is no mean feat. But the overriding feeling is one of passion – seeing students having a passion to learn something new or understand something more deeply and allowing student’s creativity to flourish and curiosity being reignited is infectious.
Watching a group working on their ideas, whether it be developing a chimney filter, capturing energy from instruments and amplifiers or a campaign against backyard breeding, whilst at the same time seeing them practice their 21st Century survival skills of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, agility and adaptability, teamwork, initiative and entrepreneurship is an inspiration and a privilege.
In November we’ve had seven Big Ideas Days across the country, over seven hundred students and twenty five mentors have met in school halls to explore sustainability challenges and create solutions. We’ve had five teams from previous years presenting to their peers with one student saying (in front of fifty of his peers):
“My confidence was really low before this competition started and I was really scared to talk in front of everybody. Throughout the process, I just felt like my confidence grew bigger and bigger. For example we went to Aston University and London and presented in front of loads of people. Also, my science terminology has improved”
A teacher fed back saying: “I just wanted to say a big thank you again for the fantastic day on Tuesday. The girls had a brilliant time coming up with their ideas. They are all now super excited to develop their ideas further. Please also thank the amazing mentors for me, their involvement on the day was just fantastic”.
We, and the mentors, leave the schools both exhausted and elated knowing that a new set of innovators have been given the opportunity to explore their passions and who see their place in the world as a generation of sustainability champions.
“It was fantastic to see initial ideas and thoughts develop into various products, services and campaigns that could, with some further development, make a real difference to our planet. The enthusiasm across the entire year group was infectious, and it was great to see the individual teams find their feet and develop together. As a mentor it was extremely rewarding to help these young people make the most of an extremely content-rich day. I was absolutely drained afterwards though and needed a coffee to stay awake on the train home! Thanks to everyone who was part of it for ensuring it ran like clockwork” – Ed Smythe, Key Account Director @ Suez