Team Algae to Power from Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet receiving their award from Erik Bonino, Shell Country Chair UK.
Team Algae to Power from Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet receiving their award from Erik Bonino, Shell Country Chair UK.

A team of four Year 8 students from Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet has fought off tough competition from over 400 teams to be crowned the national champion of Shell’s new schools competition, The Bright Ideas Challenge.

With three out of four people globally set to live in cities by 2050i, The Bright Ideas Challenge asked young people aged 11-14 to imagine creative solutions to power the cities of tomorrow.

The winning ‘Algae to Power’ idea proposed installing transparent tubes filled with algae onto the sides of city buildings to instantly transform them into clean, energy-generating power stations.

The scheme would hope to produce two forms of energy – biogas that could be burned to produce electrical energy, and hydrogen to fuel cars. Ingeniously, the CO2 created by burning the biogas would be fed back to the algae to help it grow and create an emission-free system.

The students’ won a total of £5,000 to support science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education at their school, plus a tablet computer for each of them. Their victory was announced on July 1 at Make the Future London, where they were VIP guests at Shell’s festival of ideas and innovation.

Martin Haigh, Senior Energy Adviser at Shell and one of the competition judges, commented: “The energy challenges of tomorrow are huge. To meet them we will need people with leading science and engineering skills, combined with both commitment and creativity. Today’s young people will play a vital role in tackling the energy issues of the future and in creating the clean, vibrant, healthy cities of tomorrow.  

“The Bright Ideas Challenge is all about fostering ingenuity and helping young people make the connection between the STEM skills they’re learning in the classroom and their ability to positively shape a bright future for us all.”

The winning Algae to Power team commented: “Make the Future London was so inspiring. We met celebrity guests including Rachel Riley, joined in live science shows and tried out some of the coolest new energy innovations. We even created our own ‘internet of things’ device. But seeing our idea celebrated at a huge festival, alongside the inventions of brilliant engineers, was our highlight!”

Queen Elizabeth’s School plans to spend its £5,000 prize fund on injecting new levels of interactivity into their STEM lessons and are going to put different options to the vote!

See an overview of each of the finalists’ ideas.

Find out how Shell is supporting STEM education.

Catch up with everything that happened at Make the Future London.

iShell, New Lenses On Future Cities, 2014.

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