S4TP Big Ideas Competition 2019
At The Halifax Academy we encourage our students to develop their presentation and public speaking skills, as well as their creativity and problem-solving abilities. In December 2018, students from Years 7 & 8 entered the S4TP Big Ideas Competition, a national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) competition, which challenged them to re-imagine the solution to a real-life problem, such as developing a more efficient way to generate clean energy. The students used a range of skills, working scientifically and using data to refine and test their ideas. Over the course of five months the students developed prototypes, along with their business plans and supporting presentations.
Teams from 169 schools across the country submitted their ideas and we were incredibly proud that two of our teams reached the North England Regional Final, which was held at the University of Leeds in May. The teams presented their ideas to an audience of 75, including five judges from industry and academia, resulting in second place for team LoveLife and a special commendation for team Kinetic Shoes. Further excitement followed when team LoveLife won a wild card place in the national final of the competition. They will join 11 other teams at the event at the Palace of Westminster in June.
The competition is organised by S4TP (Solutions for the Planet) a social enterprise that promotes sustainable development and STEM careers for young people. Students taking part are able to develop their ideas with the support and guidance of business mentors primarily from the energy, waste, manufacturing, engineering and construction sectors.
The Big Idea - What is LoveLife?
The team decided to address the problem of cardiovascular disease, specifically looking at a way of detecting the early symptoms of cardiovascular problems, without the need for a doctor. In identifying target markets, the students considered the rising levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes, particularly in children, adolescents and younger adults. They also considered the needs of professional athletes, in light of the sudden deaths of several high profile footballers due to undiagnosed heart conditions.
During their research, the team reviewed wearable fitness tracking devices already on the market and identified areas of development and improvement, resulting in their Big Idea: the LoveLife health monitoring device. Linked to an app, the LoveLife device is worn on the wrist and checks body heat, heart rate/ECG and sugar levels and can also automatically alert the emergency services in the event of a medical crisis. The product is sustainable, constructed from vegan leather or recycled materials and is solar powered. Aesthetically, LoveLife is slimline and more decorative in comparison to similar wristband devices available.
Working with a professional mentor
Throughout the process, the three members of the LoveLife team, Muhsin Mehrban, Ferhan Hussain and Mujtabaa Nassar have been mentored by Scott Rawlings of Tarmac, a leading sustainable building materials and construction solutions company. Scott has shared his knowledge and expertise throughout the development of the product, covering: market research, competition, sustainability, costs, income and networking.
Speaking about the project, Scott said: “This is my first time working with students at The Halifax Academy and it's been fantastic. The students have been energetic and dedicated and have really focussed on a serious issue that they believe in; it's great to see their ideas take shape and become a reality. It's inspiring to see that this generation has so much enthusiasm to make the world a better place for everyone.”
Team member Mujtabaa said of the competition experience so far: "We've worked so hard on the project, so it's a nice feeling to have our efforts recognised; we're really happy to be going to London. We enjoyed the regional finals in Leeds; we learnt how to present to an audience and how to work well as a team. It was nerve-wracking but exhilarating!"
"By taking part in the competition, we have a better knowledge of business and finance and a greater awareness of current issues, for example: obesity. We want to say thank you to all the adults who have supported us; they have motivated us and helped us improve on our weaknesses. The experience has made us aware of the world around us; it's encouraged us to be brave and to try and think outside the box."
The final of the Big Ideas Competition will take place at the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday 26 June.