Friday (10 May) saw the culmination of months of planning as Kinlochleven High School’s S2 pupils battled it out in their recent STEM challenge. Students were charged with designing an innovative project that would produce green energy while generating revenue streams in other areas.
The competition took place in front of a panel of judges from government and industry, Kate Forbes, MSP, Councillor Ben Thompson, Colin Gilmour, Project Manager at Green Highland Renewables, and Gena MacLean, Programme Coordinator at Developing the Young Workforce (DYW). This varied and robust panel of guest judges put the students through their paces.
The competition was fierce. Projects ranged from wind powered theme parks to solar panelled gondolas and energy producing sports pitches to zipline turbine solutions. Each group presented their project to the judges, providing rationales for their projects and answering searching questions from the judging panel.
Students had to provide information about finance, levels of power generated and what the public perception of their proposed project may be. The students fielded questions with confidence, relying on detailed research, which impressed the judges. With more than one judge admitting they were astonished when informed that the students involved were S2, believing they had surpassed themselves on every level.
The tension mounted as the judges retired to their deliberations. They marvelled about the projects, extolling the virtues of the students before delivering their verdict. The Vibrating Sports Pitch won the day. This project, conceived by Ailsa Janzen, Isobel Spark Whitworth, Karina Karcinskaite, Blair Nicolson and Leon Lawrie (pictured with the judges), gave the most creative solution to the brief set.
Judge Councillor Ben Thompson commented that, “it was tough to select one winner from several well thought out and impressively presented pitches.” while industry judges, Colin Gilmour and Gena MacLean, thought that the students had great awareness of business practices in addition to their knowledge of renewable energy and the science required to implement their ideas in a practical context.
Kate Forbes, MSP, "For the second year in a row I was blown away with the standard of ingenuity at Kinlochleven High School. It was a difficult decision to pick a winner, because all of the teams had creative, well-presented ideas. Hearty congratulations to all teams and the teachers who support, encourage and inspire them.
Not to be upstaged by their older peers, the Primary School competition at this STEM event was equally impressive. Pupils faced a Lego Robotics Challenge, constructing vehicles to battle it out over two stages. First a speed test, then to navigate a treacherous obstacle course. The primary schools involved were Kinlochleven, Duror, St Bride's, Glencoe and Ballachulish.
There were some truly incredible machines on display, many of which surpassed the expectations of event organiser, Mr Greame Martin, Principal Teacher of Science and Technology, who praised the students. The event culminated with Greame Martin and Don Esson, Quality Improvement Manager, Highland Council, judging the winner. Due to the high quality of the vehicles on show, their deliberations took some time. It was St Bride's Primary School who emerged victorious. With Glencoe Primary School in second place and Duror Primary School receiving a special award for creative design.
The final word was left for event organiser, Graeme Martin, who closing the event said “I would like to highlight how fantastic the students were from all schools. It was an amazing community event and, in particular, I was impressed by the team work I witnessed throughout the day. All the students are to be commended on their incredible research and presentation skills.”