TeenTech – an industry-led initiative which helps children to realise the potential of STEM subjects – has today announced it is to provide even more support to teenage innovation through the addition of a number of new categories to its 2015 awards.
Announced at Buckingham Palace today during a prize giving ceremony for 2014’s winners- two of whom are now working with charities to bring their visions to reality- the three new categories will form part of TeenTech’s prestigious annual event which sees hundreds of schools across the country take part.
Working to the brief of making life ‘better, simpler and easier’, the awards give schoolchildren between the ages of 11 – 16 (Years 7 – 11) the opportunity to search for scientific and technological solutions to real problems in 16 categories linked to industries important to the future – including environment, transport, healthcare and wearable technology.
In a first for 2015, a brand new category entitled ‘Consumer Innovation Award’ will be launched and run across all categories in the competition. In partnership with electronics specialist Maplin, the winning design will work closely with Maplin’s own new product development team and bring it to market – selling it in stores across the country and on the Maplin website.
The ‘Infrastructure’ category will give young people the opportunity to delve into the ever-complex organisational structures of buildings, roads and power supplies and is sponsored by Network Rail, while ‘Retail and Finance’ will open up the increasing challenges of the consumer world and look at how technology can overcome these.
This year’s winning designs, awarded in June, included a wristband which tells you when you’ve eaten your five-a-day, wardrobes that choose and deliver your clothing, gloves which translate speech and a way to “grow your own clothes”.
Now a number of the winners are already working closely with businesses to develop their design. The team at Loreto Grammar School in Altrincham Cheshire, which won for their happiness and wellbeing app ‘Stepping Out’, now has the support from the digital team at Childline on their project and Richard Lander School in Cornwall is in talks with Save The Children Asia to pitch its ‘Playground Dynamo’ idea, a playground built with recycled materials which can produce local power – both teams hope to fully develop their designs in school with the charities’ support.
Each were honoured in today’s ceremony for their innovative solutions and grasp of how technology can be used to overcome everyday problems, in an event which saw the patron of TeenTech HRH The Duke of York congratulate winners – alongside BBC’s Bang Goes The Theory’s Dallas Campbell and Stargazing Live’s Liz Bonnin.
TeenTech works to connect the youngsters directly with businesses, giving them the opportunity to engage with the industry and understand how to develop their idea through all aspects of the design journey – from conception through to market delivery.
The awards are supported annually by a number of influential names in the technology field, celebrity science presenters, journalists and eminent academics such as Stephen Fry, Top Gear’s James May, BBC Click’s Kate Russell, BBC Bang Goes The Theory’s Dallas Campbell, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, Jim Al-Khalili and Andrew Cohen.
TeenTech is the co-brainchild of technology broadcaster Maggie Philbin – known for programmes Bang Goes the Theory and Tomorrow’s World – and aims to nurture teenage innovation through competitions and events in schools all across the country. Philbin was one of the first people to test out many of the technologies taken for granted today, including the world’s first truly mobile phone, the first car navigation system as well as the first supermarket barcode reader.
The launch comes off Maggie’s recent ‘Digital Skills for Tomorrow’s World” report to inform political debate ahead of the general election – which recently unveiled that the UK will need 745,000 additional workers with digital skills to meet rising demand from now until 2017.
Maggie Philbin said: ‘We’ve all seen the facts predicting the ever-increasing skills gap in our STEM workforce, yet these projects show us exactly why it’s so important that we nurture the passion of our future innovators at this critical stage in their lives. The awards are not only a way to connect kids with people that can make their brilliant ideas happen, but a way of helping young people see beyond the classroom into their future career.
“The great thing about the awards is the way they encourage young people to develop their ideas and really consider their marketability – we were astonished last year by the sheer tenacity and hunger these kids had to make things better through technology, and this is a great sign of things to come – we hope that more and more schools will sign up this year and realise the impact for themselves.”
Sponsors of the awards include Google, Airbus, Network Rail, Hewlett Packard, JVC, CPC, National Grid, Equal Experts, OCR, Institute of Food Science and Technology, Cranfield University, Network Rail, Maplin, EDF Energy Campus and PA Consulting.
As well as the annual awards, TeenTech offers one-day interactive science events to schools nationwide to engage young people in STEM and show them a possible career path. The Awards are the culmination of TeenTech’s six years of hard work in giving young people direct access to leading corporations. For the first time this year, students taking part in the TeenTech Awards will also be eligible to apply for a coveted British Science Association CREST Silver Award, as many of the skills needed to obtain a CREST Award will be demonstrated.