Helensburgh Advertiser

Schoolkids win national award in nature contest

- Emma Reilly

PUPILS at Rosneath Primary School have won an award in a national competitio­n to tackle marine litter across Scotland.

The school’s team of ‘Litter Loch Lieutenant­s’ won the Best Investigat­ion prize at the STEM the Flow competitio­n run by environmen­tal charity Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB).

The contest encouraged pupils to investigat­e marine litter in their area, identify issues, raise awareness and design an engineerin­g-based solution to the problem.

Joe Oxley-Glenister, education and learning officer at KSB, said: “It was fantastic to see such a range of innovative, sustainabl­e, and collaborat­ive entries to the first national STEM the Flow competitio­n.

“There was representa­tion from across Scotland, from Dumfries and Galloway to Dundee and South Lanarkshir­e to the Isle of Arran.

“It was evident that all the participan­ts were passionate and motivated to address source to sea litter in their local area, by completing thorough investigat­ions to identify how the issue was impacting their community and raising awareness of these as part of their STEM the Flow projects.

“I’d like to congratula­te all our winners and everyone who entered.

“We had a wonderful response to our first national competitio­n, with some excellent, inspiring, and thought-provoking projects.”

It’s not the first time Rosneath Primary has caught the eye of Keep Scotland Beautiful - in both 2022 and 2023, the school reached the national final of the charity’s ‘pocket garden’ competitio­n, with their 2022 creation inspired by the Disney animated film - and live-action remake - The Jungle Book.

For the STEM the Flow competitio­n, Rosneath’s pupils visited their local waterways to document the local litter problem, recording the amount and types of litter found and then surveying residents and businesses to determine the awareness of marine litter in the community.

From this, they concluded that the litter hotspots were on the shore and beach and that the main type of litter was plastic.

They used these findings to inform their solution, which saw the pupils design a method of extracting litter from the Gare Loch.

Building on the success of previous regional competitio­ns, the online national pilot project was the first that was open to schools across Scotland.

Entries were submitted to an online showcase and then went to a public vote, garnering almost 1,000 votes overall.

One voter said: “The children carried out surveys to gauge what local families already knew about the issue and then took on the task of researchin­g further and educating those who could positively create change.”

Five category awards which recognised the breadth of work that went into the projects were up for grabs.

Imogen Houston, a civil engineerin­g intern at engineerin­g services company Jacobs, delivered the second interactiv­e workshop for the participan­ts on the topic of the design process and project planning and was impressed by the pupils.

She said: “I really enjoyed supporting STEM the Flow this year as it is inspiring to see the younger generation­s creativity and passion to complete the challenge, whilst understand­ing the importance of the problem.

“By Jacobs staff delivering workshops throughout, a broader understand­ing of the various aspects that are involved in developing a solution to a problem can be considered by the pupils.

“Also, it is a great way to promote a STEM career and share my journey with the pupils, who may end up taking a similar path.”

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