Twelve teams from across England, Scotland and Wales have reached the finals of Shell’s new national schools competition, The Bright Ideas Challenge.

The competition asked young people aged 11 to14 to take a journey into the future and imagine creative solutions to power the cities of tomorrow.

Using their imaginations and problem-solving skills, alongside their science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) expertise, students were invited to come up with ideas to improve the supply of clean and affordable energy. In total, more than 420 teams entered the competition.

The ideas that have reached the final include a proposal to supply city flats with pre-planted window boxes. Heat from the decomposing compost would be turned into energy, while the smell would be masked by bee-friendly lavender plants. The compost would then be collected and used for fertilising crops to supply the city.

Another team impressed the judges with their idea to install giant rollers under city roads. These rollers would harness kinetic energy every time a vehicle travelled over them, which in turn would be used to power underground turbines. The judges praised the team for recognising that transport systems could be potential generators, as well as consumers, of energy.

Martin Haigh, Senior Energy Adviser at Shell and one of the competition judges, said: “Powering our cities to ensure they are clean, healthy and vibrant places to live is a huge challenge that will require incredible levels of ingenuity. Today’s young people will play a vital role in tackling these big issues and we should encourage their creative thinking. These 12 teams really rose to the challenge, surprising us with their insight and ideas.”

Each of the 12 finalists won £1,500 to help super-size its school STEM lessons plus a tablet computer for each team member. The finalists will also be special guests at Make the Future London, a festival of ideas and innovation hosted by Shell at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on June 30 to July 3. The festival will feature live science shows, hands-on activities and engaging careers experiences, all aimed at bringing STEM education to life. The festival will also host the finals of The Bright Ideas Challenge, where one of the 12 teams will be crowned national champion.

Read a summary of the winning entries and schools

Book free tickets for Make the Future London