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Schools awarded £26,000 to go sustainable by design

The Design Challenges sent world-class design professionals such as the product designer Sebastian Conran and Joe Ferry, Head of Design for Virgin Atlantic into schools to work with groups of students, helping them turn their new ideas into practical products and services that address the consequences of climate change.

David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council, said: “Britain will need bright ideas to solve the environmental challenges we face in the future. We hope that students involved in our schools Design Challenges will be among the next generation of creative thinkers to make this happen”.

For the Eco Design Challenge, part of Dott Cornwall, more than twenty top designers acted as mentors to Year 8 pupils from across Cornwall, helping them to find new ways of reducing their school’s impact on the environment.

The eventual winners, St Ives School, are planning to turn their run-down 1970’s art block environmentally friendly with photovoltaic panels, better use of natural light and the involvement of the whole community. The judging panel awarded them £6,700 out of a £15,000 prize pot donated by NESTA, to help them turn their project into a reality.

Other winners included Wadebridge School’s Cycle Safe plans to get people out of cars and onto their bikes. They won £4,000 to buy secure lockers and racks, and to help realise their ambition to create a Zero Impact Week across the UK and a website for finding the safest cycle route to school.

For the Water Design Challenge, the Design Council collaborated with Southern Water to challenge secondary schools in the South-East to design solutions to reduce their school’s water usage. The winning water-saving idea, “The World’s Smallest Water Museum,” came from students at Sholing Technology College, who worked with designers from Common Ground to create a fun and interactive exhibition that would fit in a portaloo that could be moved around local schools to raise awareness of why we need to save water. They took home £5,000 of the £11,000 prize fund donated by Southern Water.

One of the judges, Designer Wayne Hemingway, commented: “Design is about solutions. Some people think design is about making things look pretty but it’s about creating solutions. And you don’t need to be great at drawing or arty to be a designer. Design can be fun and it can make you smile. But design has to solve a problem too. Doing things like this Water Design Challenge gets your brains going and will stimulate you to do more good things. Designers make the world a better place.”

Lesley Morris, the Design Council’s Head of Design Skills, said: “School students already know plenty about sustainability, but they aren’t often given the chance to put this knowledge into action. Our schools Design Challenges have given students the skills and confidence to tackle real problems in the real world. We hope they are on the way to becoming the next generation of eco-designers.”

The Design Council hopes to roll out more Design Challenges for schools over the coming year.

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