Alloa pupils win University climate competition with composting plan

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Rebecca Pankhurst,Ross McInally, Ben Moore, Sam Stewart.
Pictured (l-r) Rebecca Pankhurst, SIEC Manager, University of Stirling; Ross McInally; Ben Moore; Sam Stewart, Depute Headteacher, Alloa Academy.

Pupils from Alloa Academy who plan to turn leftovers from the school’s cafeteria into compost have been awarded first place in a University competition to propose solutions to environmental challenges.

Ben Moore and Ross McInally, both aged 15, were recognised for their entry to the Young Pathfinders Climate Competition, which concluded the second year of the Young Pathfinders initiative, an educational outreach programme led by Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC) at the University of Stirling.

The S4 pupils want to use the compost to grow fresh produce on the school grounds to support food banks in Clackmannanshire. The approach is designed to tackle both the environmental problems caused by excessive food waste, and the challenges resulting from food poverty in the local community.

Rebecca Pankhurst, SIEC Manager at the University of Stirling, said: “Ben and Ross presented a simple and effective solution which can make an important contribution to sustainability in and around their school. The judges were impressed by the extent of their research into a complex issue, and the clear and persuasive way in which they presented their response. Entries from all the participating schools were of a high standard, which is testament the students’ hard work and creativity.”  

The University will gift the winning school with a Hydro Grow System, a classroom-sized tank for growing crops without soil, and will continue to work with the pupils to develop their proposals.

Original thinking

Sam Stewart, Depute Headteacher at Alloa Academy, said: “It is fantastic to see Ben and Ross recognised for their talent and original thinking, and to secure a Hydro Grow System for Alloa Academy. Their success in the Young Pathfinders competition will be an inspiration to their fellow students, who will benefit from this fantastic new learning resource.”

Pupils from nearby Lornshill Academy were also highly commended for their entry, which involved using tree stumps and wildflowers to encourage greater biodiversity on their school campus.

The Young Pathfinders programme empowers pupils from schools across Stirling and Clackmannanshire to respond to a future shaped by climate change. A year-long calendar of events includes a focus on enhanced environmental awareness, knowledge of green skills and green career pathways, and opportunities to hear directly from inspirational speakers, researchers and practitioners working in environmentally focused careers. The Pathfinders are also supported with developing employability skills, including teamwork, leadership, communication, and problem solving.

Green careers

Clackmannanshire Council Leader Councillor Ellen Forson said: “Congratulations to the young people of Alloa Academy on winning this year’s Climate Competition. I’d also like to recognise the efforts of all the young people who have participated in Young Pathfinders for working so hard to develop their environmental awareness.

“This is a wonderful programme which not only develops the young people’s understanding of the challenges associated with tackling climate change, but it gives them employability skills and vital insight into green careers, which can only stand them in good stead for the future.”

Stirling Council Leader, Councillor Chris Kane said: “It has been really encouraging to see the positive feedback from our young people on the Young Pathfinders programme, who have learned a wide range of new skills and gained valuable experiences that will help them thrive in the future as the region moves to a Net Zero economy. Well done to all the participants for their achievements, and congratulations to the winning pupils.”

Established as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, Scotland’s International Environment Centre is a pioneering collaboration that will create an innovation community in the Forth Valley, driving the creation of a net zero regional economy and acting as a global exemplar of low-carbon growth.

The Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal is a £90.2m investment from the UK Government and Scottish Government in innovation and infrastructure that will drive inclusive economic growth throughout the region.

Regional partners, including Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council, and the University of Stirling, will invest up to £123.8m, resulting in a Deal worth more than £214m, to be delivered over the next 10 to 15 years.

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