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STEM students win big at the Big Bang Competition

July 08, 2022

Students from Kingswood School, Bath, Somerset were honoured with the Stantec Developing Future Communities Award in the Big Bang competition

Students Alberta Fryer, Florence Burton, Phoebe Hill, Manaka Koreyasu, and Sophie Farmer wowed the judges at the Big Bang competition with their project. They called it Girls Into School: Leak Free For You and Me—Reusable Sanitary Pads, and took home the Stantec Developing Future Communities Award. Demonstrating how science and engineering can advance the quality of life in communities, whether around the corner or across the globe, the students’ project was chosen from ten overall finalists. 

The Big Bang competition is an annual contest designed to recognise and reward young people's achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), helping them build skills and confidence in project-based work.

Stantec’s Alex Prance and Milena Martinez were involved in the shortlisting process and reviewed 30 projects developed by students aged 11 to 18. Milena explains, “We observed a clear focus around the themes of sustainability and climate change as part of the development and design in most projects, which in some cases was linked to other engineering-related fields such as environment, health and medicine, and digital technology. We learnt about inspiring and exciting projects that allowed everyone to develop new skills and build confidence in STEM project-based learning.

Our shortlist was created based on those projects that, by applying principles of science and engineering, had the potential to have a greater impact in the community. We felt that this was a great opportunity for students to come up with ingenuous and creative ideas and projects, which were then developed further as part of the special award.”

On the finalist judging process, Alex said, “Across the day it was clear that all ten finalists had improved their ideas immensely. They all presented a clear concept on how they wanted their idea to impact its end user or improve the environment. Each finalist showed design individuality and clear link to the award category making it very hard to choose a winner.”

The winning team’s Girls Into School: Leak Free For You and Me—Reusable Sanitary Pads project was designed to create a reusable sanitary pad, a project born from their desire to help make period products more affordable and accessible to girls less able to have access to these products in Liberia and Kenya. Using these reusable period products, girls don’t have to stay at home and miss out on valuable opportunities like education and jobs—they can go about their lives at school and work while on their period.

Alex explains, “Our winners, from Kingswood School, Bath, had the clearest understanding and vision. They knew exactly how they wanted to positively impact the community from concept, manufacturing, and use. Though the idea is simple, it clearly brings the biggest community impact and carried many environmental benefits which made it an honourable winner for the Stantec award.”

Congratulating the students, Dr Hilary Leevers, chief executive of EngineeringUK, organiser of The Big Bang competition, said, “Alberta, Florence, Phoebe, Manaka, and Sophie impressed the judges with their project and congratulations to them on winning this special award. We received hundreds of incredible entries and the quality of the work undertaken impresses us each year. Young people have shown incredible resilience and determination during the past couple of years and the ambition, passion, and enthusiasm the students show for their projects are truly inspiring. It certainly bodes well for the future that the scientists, engineers, and inventors of tomorrow are already producing such astute and creative project work—congratulations to all those involved.”

Stantec’s Liz Chapman, consulting engineering director, United Kingdom and Ireland, said, “We were looking for a project that demonstrates how science and engineering can make a positive difference to our communities in a sustainable way, whether in our own local neighbourhoods or those on the other side of the globe. The entrants to this year's award were outstanding. We received some of the best submissions we’ve seen throughout our time sponsoring an award with EngineeringUK. 

We were impressed how the power of young scientists and engineers bring creative thinking to challenges they care about.

Alberta, Florence, Phoebe, Manaka, and Sophie’s project stood out to us as being thoroughly researched, especially around the impact the topic has for communities, in particular the need for affordable and sustainable solutions. It was great to see how they had considered the environment with their product.  Their project process and outcomes went far beyond creative and innovative. We were impressed how the power of young scientists and engineers bring creative thinking to challenges they care about. Congratulations to our winners of the Stantec Developing Future Communities Award!’’

When asked about his role as a judge for the Stantec Developing Future Communities Award, Alex said, “I had a great time being a part of the Stantec judging team this year and meeting all our shortlisted finalists. I learnt a lot and took some great ideas away with me which I hope to implement within my own local STEM events. I’m grateful for the opportunity.” 

For more information and to enter next year’s Competition visit The Big Bang Competition.

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