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Dragons all shook up at science contest

By Liz Nicholls

A dozen teams of up and coming young scientists entered the dragons’ den but it was a project to predict earthquakes that clinched the title of Bright Spark Awards Champions 2018.

Student duo Zubair Asim and Kevin John from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, in Canterbury, won the annual science contest for schools. They impressed the judges with a project to improve earthquake prediction by monitoring ambient radiation.

Zubair said: “It feels amazing to come up with this idea and then to progress it massively into something that has massive potential for the future for earthquake detection.”

The team won the £500 prize money, trophy, and a framed certificate - plus a bonus experience prize donated by Pfizer that will be tailored to the group.

Organised by the KM Charity Team, the Bright Spark Awards contest was open to primary and secondary schools in Kent, Medway, and Bexley.

The top 12 teams were invited to the dragons’ den style competition final at Discovery Park in Sandwich. All were filmed at their schools prior to the final and each video was screened before the teams of pupils took to the stage.

Youngsters presented a variety of innovations, investigations, and inventions before fielding questions from a panel of judges which included representatives from Astro Communications, Pfizer, BAE Systems Rochester, Discovery Park, Megger, Global Associates, Golding Vision (part of Golding Homes), and Highways England.

Another team from Simon Langton Grammar, Project Stairgen, was a big winner at the event. Their product – designed to improve safety in the home – works by capturing the energy of walking up or down stairs to power lights on the staircase.

Their innovation captured the attention of Paul Weatherfield from Global Associates who offered a bonus prize of a £250 investment in the product to get it developed further. And Stairgen were also the winners of an experience prize and goody bags donated by Megger.

Martin Heritage, engineering programme manager for Megger, praised the event saying there was “great passion and enthusiasm from all the students - and some really complex and innovative ideas.”

Dragons dished out experience prizes to the projects that really stood out for them and Golding Homes rewarded no less than four teams. Perfect Bath Bomb from Invicta Grammar in Maidstone and Fluid Power Project from Aylesford School received experience prizes from the housing organisation, while two teams from Homewood School and Sixth Form in Tenterden - Lowering KS2 Nerves and Anxiety, and Microplastics in Our Ecosystems – received goody bags.

Sarah Leipnik from Golding Homes said: “It’s fantastic to see so many girls have entered this year. It’s important to raise the aspirations of our young girls to move into the STEM subjects. We’re a housing organisation so we want more girls in the construction industry and this is a great stepping stone.”

The Asgard VIII Mission Project from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School won the Global Associates experience prize. Another team from Queen Elizabeth’s, Brilliant Biogas, were recipients of a prize donated by Discovery Park.

The experience prize from Highways England went to the Water Pump Seesaw team from Dartford Science and Technology College.

The Mapping Aid for the Blind team from Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar were selected by BAE Systems – and their prize will include the chance to go into a simulation suite and fly virtual aircraft.

Sophie Girdler, teacher at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, said: “Events like this are really great for schools like us. It gives our students the opportunity to present their findings in a similar type of way they might do if they were working in scientific research areas - and in real life - and it also gives them an opportunity to reflect on their achievements and gives them some pride in the work that they’ve done.”

To find out more, including how to take part next year, visit www.KmCharityTeam.co.uk/BrightSpark

Businesses interested in becoming a dragon at next year’s event should contact event organiser Maxine Tarquini of the KM Charity Team at mtarquini@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 0844 264 0291.

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