Working together against climate change
Year 10 students at Bicester Technology Studio School have been engaged in a project to integrate education about climate change into a variety of subjects. Planned by Stantec and teachers at Bicester Technology Studio School, the project featured realistic climate change projections and possible solutions where students researched how their local area is responding to the climate challenge and developed their preferred solution for tackling climate change to benefit the local community.
“We want solar panels, and we want them now!” was the resounding cry to make Bicester more sustainable. Stantec worked with the students on planning local solutions to the global problem in a project which engaged them in a variety of subjects and lessons. In Geography, they were given a background on climate change, insight from industry experts, an introduction to geographic information systems and students went on field surveys at four sites in Bicester. In Maths, they processed the data and created graphs and charts, and in English, the students planned and presented their solutions. All the time, students were learning about climate change whilst also meeting important curriculum objectives and improving transferrable skills which will benefit them now and in the future.
Each team presented its ideas to a panel of judges from Stantec and property developer Thakeham. Students demonstrated their understanding of climate change, how their team had worked together, and which idea they had chosen to deliver a more sustainable future for Bicester. The winning team was chosen based on presentation and teamwork skills, quality and innovation of the idea and completeness of response to questions asked. The solutions proposed included solar panels on all new housing, wind turbines along all railway lines and motorways, rechargeable electric scooters in the urban area with charging points at housing developments, and more green spaces and green routes around Bicester for bikes, scooters and walkers. The winning team demonstrated clearly how their idea could work, and how it would address a range of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
On the ideas and innovation, Amber Leversedge, graduate environmental planner at Stantec, commented: “I am extremely proud of the contribution of the students so far and look forward to seeing how the project expands in the future. We must empower young people and provide them with resources and knowledge to tackle climate change. Integrating climate change into multiple subjects gave students a better understanding of how climate change and sustainability are connected to every aspect of life. Climate education not only benefits the students and teachers but also has wider benefits for the community.”
One of the judges James McAllister-Jones, Head of Planning (Eastern and Western) from Thakeham said:
“It was great to hear from all the groups about how we can address climate change at a local scale. I thought all the groups did a great job of identifying potential solutions across a range of current climate issues including energy consumption, transport and how we create and use our environment. It’s encouraging that the next generation is so enthusiastic about finding appropriate solutions, and to do it all in three weeks was incredible! Well done to all of them, but also to Stantec for creating the opportunity and keeping them all engaged throughout.”
The school’s Head of Geography, Matt Brown, commented on the benefit the project had on learning:
“Geography students learned to apply global issues to their environment and to work with professionals in the area. It’s the best example of working with outside business that I’ve experienced.”
Oliver Horwood, a Year 10 student, summarised how projects of this kind can generate inspiration in the young:
“We often feel that the problem is too big and too far away, but this project taught me how we can make a difference. We want solar panels, and we want them now!”
Sarah Crush, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, at Thakeham commented:
“We are committed to delivering carbon-zero communities and building sustainable places. We recognise the important work that our supply chain and consultant partners, like Stantec, are contributing to this and were delighted to support their placement project at Bicester. Delivering social value is very important to Thakeham and executing our ‘Building Future Generations’ strategy to engage young people in the climate change agenda is critical to the future success of our industry. Congratulations to Stantec on a well-run and inspiring programme and to all the students who delivered such a high standard of work!”
Anthony Barron, a Senior Sustainability Manager, at Thakeham, reflected:
“It was a pleasure to be part of Stantec’s Climate Education Project. The level of engagement from the students was superb and it was abundantly clear from the quality of all their presentations that they had developed an understanding of the complexity of the topic. We thoroughly enjoyed playing our part in this project and were inspired by some of the practical solutions the students had developed with the support of Stantec and their teachers.”
Inspiring Future generations
Communities should be at the heart of the planning and design process. Preparing young people for the realities and challenges of climate change is a key component of STEM outreach campaigns. By proving inspiration, they can align their choices with actions that help to mitigate and adapt to climate change, both as shapers of local communities and as contributors to future governance, business, and innovation.