Pupils climb high in £10k schools STEM challenge

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An idea to develop a climbing wall to expand opportunities for all age groups and abilities in Pateley Bridge has secured Nidderdale High School and Community College a runners-up place in a regional competition sponsored by Drax Power, with a total prize fund of £10,000.

The Project Reinvent Challenge invited pupils across Yorkshire, aged 11-19, to use their learning and knowledge in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) to develop a workable idea to help improve life in their community.

A team of six Year 8 pupils from Nidderale High impressed judges with their entry ‘3 Peaks’. Inspired by Yorkshire’s famous Three Peaks hills, the climbing wall would provide three levels of ability from beginner to advanced.

It would be situated in the leisure centre close to the school. The team said it would be of particular benefit to primary school users as well as keen climbers who currently have to travel to facilities elsewhere.

Drax, the electricity generation business based near Selby in North Yorkshire, awarded the idea £2,000 to help it get started.

Teacher Madeline Smyth said: “Although we’re a small community school we try to get lots of cross-curricular activity into lessons and STEM is really important to us.

“The pupils in the team were not all friends but have worked together extremely well and this is an exciting reward for all their effort.”

She added: “Climbing is a big pastime and sport in the area, so to have a venue on our doorstep would be great for the local community.”

The team was met by Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO.

He said: “It’s been tremendously rewarding to see young people harness their imagination and STEM learning to find new ways to support their local communities.

“The diverse range of ideas we have seen and presented by the competition finalists shows there is plenty of innovation within schools and colleges across Yorkshire. We hope this will inspire these students to pursue careers using STEM subjects.”

The winner was All Saints School in York with an idea to generate renewable electricity and zero carbon transport between its two campuses.

The Project Reinvent Challenge was supported by the North Yorkshire Business and Education Partnership (NYBEP), a social enterprise based in York that specialises in engaging employers with education to help young people prepare for the workplace.