Washington student looks to reduce Biddick Academy's carbon footprint with £100 prize winning plan

Two students have won £140 worth of prizes for their role in promoting the importance of protecting the environment and reducing their own school’s carbon footprint.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 11:59 am

Inspired by Prince William’s Earthshot prize in which five £1m rewards will be given out each year for the next 10 years for people who have developed innovative environmental solutions, Biddick Academy decided to set up its own competition.

Rather than solving the world’s biggest environmental problems, the school offered a £100 prize for the pupil who came up with the best ideas to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.

Head of Geography Simon Robertson, who oversaw the competition, said: “We have been doing a lot of work about the environment and were already looking at what was going on with COP26 and we wanted the children to come up with their own ideas of what we could do as a school.

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"Unlike Prince William, we can’t give out £1m but the winning student won a £20 Amazon voucher and £100 of funding to help make their ideas a reality.”

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Despite the competition being open to all students, the prize went to Year 7 pupil Leoni for her plan which included the formation of an eco-club, daily litter picks from each year group and the replacement of single use plastics. Leoni had also carried out extensive research based on the school’s building size and aspect as to how may solar panels could be installed and how much power this would generate.

Leoni, who said she was going to donate the value of her voucher to the RSPCA, said: “I was surprised when I found out I had won – I didn’t expect it. Hopefully the school will now be able to put some of these plans into action.

Year 7 pupils Amelia (left) and Leoni with their prize winning work promoting awareness of COP26 and the dangers of climate change.

"My biggest concern is that if we don’t act now then habitats will be so damaged that whole species of animals will become extinct. We are all interconnected and eventually we as people will also suffer.”

Mr Robertson added: “We are doing things as a school but we could certainly do more and we intend to use the new eco-club to put some of these measures into place. Leoni’s plan was really well presented and I was most impressed with the level of research she had carried out.”

Running in conjunction with the schools eco-plan was a separate competition for budding journalists to write their own news reports covering the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.

First prize went to Year 7 pupil Amelia whose detailed report covered the causes of climate change, policies agreed at COP26 and concerns over why the Summit may not have gone far enough.

Amelia, who also won a £20 Amazon voucher, said: “I was quite shocked when I found out I had won. I was smiling for the rest of the day.”

Mr Robertson added: “Although only in Year 7, Amelia’s report was the most comprehensive and she beat off competition from children in Year 10 and 11.”

Despite her joy at winning, Amelia remains concerned for the state of our planet.

She said: “I think more needed to have been done. It’s alright agreeing to reductions but how do we make sure it happens. World leaders should listen to children as we are the ones who are going to be most effected.”

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