Bucks schools take part in Dragons’ Den-style green technology challenge

On 2 December, Year 12 students from four secondary schools in Buckinghamshire took part in a green schools Dragons’ Denstyle challenge. Waddesdon Church of England School won over the panel of judges, who were impressed by the students’ idea of installing eight RE:GEN bikes in the school gym to generate renewable energy to help cover the school’s heating and electricity costs.

Organised by Buckinghamshire Council in partnership with Bucks Skills Hub and local green technology companies Lunaz and Digital Manufacturing Centre (DMC), the event enabled Year 12 students from Buckingham School, The Grange, John Colet School and Waddesdon Church of England School to learn from professionals in the field of green technology; helping them to develop and display a range of green skills, employability, technical, creative and academic skills.

Each school was allocated a supporting business – either Lunaz or DMC – to understand the challenge, and then create and present their idea to help their school reduce their carbon footprint.

Team names and supporting business were:

  • Buckingham School – Compost Connoisseurs – Lunaz
  • The Grange – Green Like Grass – DMC
  • John Colet School – Phantastic Physicists – Lunaz
  • Waddesdon Church of England School – EMA (Re’Cycle) – DMC

Participating students were asked to sum up in a sentence the benefits of being part of the challenge. Responses included:

  • “Having complete freedom over choices.”
  • “Listening to other people’s presentations.”
  • “Working together as a team and coming up with ideas that we are really proud of.”
  • “The teamwork to help solve the challenge and pushing me out of my comfort zone.”
  • “Calculating the financial expenditure.”
  • “I got to work with a team and I enjoyed working with people in my group.”
  • “The heavy focus on teamwork and how it starts preparation for later in life.”
  • “I have enjoyed it because I thought about how the school will cope in this energy crisis.”

When they weren’t presenting their ideas, the students had the opportunity to hear and ask questions about green careers from council staff, ranging from country parks to waste and recycling, and ecology to flood preparedness.

The initiative was the brainchild of Rachael Shimmin, Buckinghamshire Council’s CEO, after her visit last year to see Lunaz’s innovative electric waste trucks.

Rachael wanted to involve schoolchildren about thinking how green technology can help solve problems, and spoke with Lunaz and DMC who wanted to get involved. The concept then turned into a competition aimed at lower sixth pupils.

Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, was one of the ‘Dragons’ at the event and commented:

“I wish to say a big thank you to all the schools and students who took part in the event. And also a special thanks to Lunaz, DMC and Bucks Skills Hub, whose partnership with us helped make this event a tremendous success.

“This was the first time Buckinghamshire has undertaken such a challenge with secondary schools with the initiative focusing on how green technology can help the environment.

“It was fantastic to see how thoroughly engaged the students were and how passionate they all were about making a positive difference.

“Due to the clear success of the event, we’re already exploring ways to build on this initiative in the future, so we can continue to strengthen our communities and improve our environment as part of our #BucksClimateChallenge.”