Unique contest sees Devon students tackle global issues

Young people from Devon are taking part in a unique competition to develop innovative solutions to try and solve major environmental problems faced across the globe.

More than 50 students from schools in Exeter, Crediton and Plymouth are taking part in the first Ted Wragg Trust Innovation Competition, tackling the complex issues of sustainable transport links and the problem of microplastics.

The groups are developing their ideas as part of the Trust-wide contest, which seeks to discover students who demonstrate an aptitude for finding innovative solutions to challenging issues and using technology to make the world a better place.

The students, aged from eight to 15, are from Marine Academy Primary, Plymouth, Queen Elizabeth’s School, Crediton; and the Exeter schools – Whipton Barton, West Exe, St Luke’s, Exwick Heights, Isca Academy, St James School, and Cranbrook Educational Campus. Ideas are due to be submitted in June.

Moira Marder, Chief Executive of the Ted Wragg Trust, said: “At our ambitious and inclusive Trust of schools, we want to encourage our students to ‘think globally’ and to engage with the problems we are all facing as a society. Our young people will be the decision makers of the future and we’re looking forward to seeing the results of this challenge, where they work together and think creatively to try and solve these issues. Right across the Ted Wragg Trust, we hear from our students about their concerns for the environment and the future of the planet, and this is one way of helping them to get their voices heard. As a Trust we believe in the power of education to transform lives, strengthen communities, to make the world a better place which is emphasised by this competition.

“We’re delighted to be working with Exeter College and other partners in industry on this competition.”

The competition is being run in collaboration with the South West Institute of Technology and Exeter College, with a celebration event planned for July at the college’s Institute of Technology.

It has also brought together business and education, with mentors supporting the development of the concepts from an industry perspective. The mentors include Andy Shaw from Canva, Charlotte Hoffmann from Amazon Logistics Community Operations, and Anthony Martin from Exeter College.

And there is a prestigious panel of judges – Rob Bosworth, Vice Principal and Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Exeter College; Dr Sally Basker, Chief Executive Officer of Exeter Science Park; Ash Roots, Chief Digital Officer at Exeter University and Charlotte Hoffman, Programme Manager at Amazon Logistics Community Operations.

Gary King, Director of Creative Technologies at West Exe School and project lead for the Innovations Competition, said: “I am very excited to see how students tackle one of two very big problems, which are not only global issues currently, but directly affect our local region too; Microplastics in our oceans and sustainable transport links to Plymouth and Exeter. The Ted Wragg Innovation Competition is a fantastic and unique challenge for our students to bring fresh ideas to big problems, which great minds and organisations are also currently attempting to address and develop solutions for on a global scale. Working in this real-world context offers students a chance to stretch their thinking beyond the confines of the curriculum and really bring together all aspects of their learning such as; problem solving, team work/collaboration, the ability to analyse and evaluate, applying knowledge in new situations, calculated risk-taking, entrepreneurial thinking and presentation skills to name but a few.