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Students from Oaks Park High School in Newbury Park reach national final of Big Ideas sustainability competition

PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 August 2020

A group of Oaks Park students at the Big Ideas Day, which was held at the school to launch the Big Ideas Competition. Five students from the school have progressed to the national finals of the competition. Picture: Oaks Park High School

A group of Oaks Park students at the Big Ideas Day, which was held at the school to launch the Big Ideas Competition. Five students from the school have progressed to the national finals of the competition. Picture: Oaks Park High School

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A group of students from Oaks Park High School have progressed to the national final of a sustainability competition.

https://twitter.com/OaksParkHighSch/status/1290605309220868102?s=20

Organised by Solutions for the Planet, the Big Ideas Competition invites students aged 11-14 to develop an idea for submission to a panel of judges.

Two groups from the school in Oaks Lane, Newbury Park, impressed the judges enough to progress from this stage to the regional finals: S.O.A (Save Our Air), and The Root Problem, an initiative to make biodegradable cutlery from discarded seeds.

Despite the efforts of both teams, it initially appeared as though neither would progress to the national final.

However, as teacher Mary O’Connor explains, a pleasant surprise awaited one group: “After the initial disappointment of not getting through to the next stage, we received the news that The Root Problem had really caught the attention of the judges and were to enter the national final as a wildcard! We’re really looking forward to this next stage of the competition.”

The entrance to Oaks Park High School in Newbury Park. Picture: Oaks Park High SchoolThe entrance to Oaks Park High School in Newbury Park. Picture: Oaks Park High School

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The students behind the idea — Siyona Patel, Payel Paul, Hafsah Malik, Munira Hossain and Marya Khan — are looking forward to November’s final.

In a joint statement, they said: “The competition so far has been amazing to compete in, and everyone’s standards are so high.

“When we realised that we were one of four who had received a wildcard we were so excited! Hopefully, we will be able to make it all the way through to the end.”

The Root Problem is the idea submitted by Year 8 students Siyona Patel, Payel Paul, Hafsah Malik, Munira Hossain and Marya Khan to the Big Ideas Competition, in which the girls are national finalists. Picture: Oaks Park High SchoolThe Root Problem is the idea submitted by Year 8 students Siyona Patel, Payel Paul, Hafsah Malik, Munira Hossain and Marya Khan to the Big Ideas Competition, in which the girls are national finalists. Picture: Oaks Park High School

The girls — all aged 12 or 13 — are grateful to everyone who has supported them so far, with special praise reserved for “our teacher Miss O Connor”.

Preferring to focus on the students’ achievements, she said: “I have been so impressed by both teams dedication to the project. They have shown amazing resilience, independence, innovation and professionalism; and all at such a young age!”

The Big Ideas programme is the flagship initiative of Solutions for the Planet, which works alongside schools to promote learning about Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and sustainability issues.

This year’s competition has proven very popular, with 186 young people from 21 schools across the UK taking part.


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