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Young Green Briton Challenge Design Sprint at St John Wall

Updated: May 20

In the later part of 2023, the Young Green Briton Challenge (YGBC) began in schools for the 2nd year. St John Wall welcomed volunteers for the Design sprint, having had so much fun with it last year. Year 7 had a brief introduction to the YGBC within their classes beforehand, and were encouraged to consider key environmental issues within their communities that could be improved. Following this, volunteers of YGBC and GenEarth visited the school to deliver the design sprint workshop. The aim of the workshop is for the small groups within Year 7 to have a design for a project they would like to develop, that will have an environmentally positive impact within their community.

YGBC Partner Kat delivered the presentation at St John Wall with the help of Katrina (volunteer from YGBC partner Ecotricity) and Rhiannon (volunteer from GenEarth). Once the large year group were split into about 18 groups of 4, Kat ran various activities and quick fire quizzes to engage the groups. The year group was quizzed on interesting questions such as how much water is used to make a pair of jeans and which food had the highest carbon footprint out of beef, milk or cheese. Some answers surprised us all and definitely got some important conversations going! The year group was engaged and encouraged to focus on a particular topic they would like to base their project on. Topics included: food, plastic pollution, air pollution, fashion, transport and more. It was interesting hearing about some of the concerns the pupils had in their community, and also interesting to hear that these conversations were brand new for some of the pupils. This may have been the first conversations they had had about some of these environmental issues. Introducing this awareness to this year group felt like a privilege to be involved in, as these minds of the future have such power to make a change in their communities, and hopefully beyond!

After brainstorming environmental problems in their community around the topics given, the pupils were encouraged to focus on one particular problem and complete their “Problem Tree” worksheet. This may have been my favourite activity, I just loved the tree analogy and hearing the pupils expand their awareness of the problems was so inspiring, in a world where many people bury their heads in the sand about these issues! The Problem Tree was an opportunity for the pupils to explore causes and consequences of their chosen problem that they would like to focus on. By the end of the activity, they would choose a cause that they would feel passionate about improving. This then led on to another brainstorming activity for the groups to come up with ideas for projects that may improve this cause of the problem.

The room was buzzing with passionate ideas from excited year 7s. From community gardening programs, to clothing recycling schemes. There were ideas for apps, posters, robots, litter picking groups, community walking groups. Ideas to plant more trees, to create cleaner streets, for greener spaces, for cleaner air. Needless to say, the following activity for narrowing down their projects to just 1 was challenging. The groups were very sensible and mature in discussing their favourite project ideas and where some couldn’t choose just one, they combined the ideas to create something beautiful and unique. The next activity was the “Solution Summary” which helped the groups summarise their focused problem, the cause, their solution, who and what their solution needs and where it will take place, and what positive impact it will have.

The next activity was designing their projects, the task the groups certainly enjoyed the most! The groups thought out the details of their projects and how it will work, creating their design on paper. Once the room was full of colourful A3 pages with bold designs on each table, it was time to plan their presentations. Year 7s then divided into 4 classes for the final activity of the workshop, to bravely present their projects to 3 or 4 other groups and receive constructive feedback and compliments.

The workshop created some fantastic ideas and the groups were excited to learn that a few of these groups will receive funding to develop their project. Just introducing this important topic into conversations within the students made the workshop feel like a success. Having some excellent project proposals from excited and engaged students was an extra win for the Design Workshop Sprint in St John Wall. I am looking forward to seeing the ideas develop further and mentor the students through the Young Green Briton Challenge.

So what’s next? The pupils are now developing their project ideas at School by researching their problem and causes further and perfecting their idea to be able to pitch their project as the project that deserves funding for a prototype to be developed. One of these groups from the school will then be able to take their prototypes to the YGBC National Award Ceremony, where we will hear about the projects from the schools across the country that have got involved in the challenge. The winning group will then get funding to grow their project further and become proud eco-entrepreneurs!


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