With lockdown rules relaxing and temperature in the UK soaring, people have headed to beaches and rivers to relax. However, the aftermath of their visits has been highlighted in the news — littering of single-use plastic bottles and bags adding to the huge environmental problem we have.
Picking up plastic waste from beaches is a major challenge around the world. Young innovators from the world have proposed solutions in the 2020 BIEA International STEM competition on Saving Our Shores from Plastic Pollution.
The annual competition is organised by the British International Education Association. This week, 36 finalists teams aged 9-17 from 14 countries (US, UK, Bosnia, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, UAE, Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Hong Kong) are showcasing their designs and prototypes to an international judging panel.
Despite the chaos caused by COVID-19 to their education, many teams made the effort to continue with their project remotely.
Many designs involved the application of artificial intelligence to identify and sort plastic waste, and automated robotic mechanisms to collect the plastics.
The judges were very impressed by the quality of the submission, Chris Coode, Deputy CEO of Thames 21 said, ‘The teams I met were full of inspiring young people with great ideas on how to tackle the global problem of plastic waste.’
David Hanson, BIEA STEM Chairman, said: “In the current turmoil that we are experiencing in the world, and as a response to ecological, social, demographic and economic challenges, we must look at STEM education as a tool to understand and collectively shape the society we live in.”
It’s hoped that some of the designs will be made into real working machines to help the fight against plastic pollution.
The winners will be announced on 1st July, just before the International Plastic Bag Free Day (3rd July).
For information about the British International Education Association and the STEM competition, visit: www.bieacompetition.org.uk