Drone project sets schools conservation challenge
Students from several schools across China have been shortlisted for the final stages of the prestigious International STEM Youth Innovation Competition taking place in London on Thursday.
The event is organized by the British International Education Association, known as BIEA, which champions British education ideals around the world, in partnership with the Born Free Foundation, and challenges STEM students —science, technology, engineering and mathematics — to use drone technology in conservation projects.
It is divided into three age categories and more than 30 teams from 18 countries and regions including China, Bosnia, India and the UK have reached the final round, with the winners announced at the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, North London, on Thursday.
The age categories are 9-11, 12-14 and 15-17, with each group being given a budget of just 100 pounds ($126) to ensure a fair contest. Having chosen their theme and made their devices, students then had to submit a proposal video explaining how their project would work.
Teams from East China, Macao, Shanghai and Beijing have made it through to the final stages. Their chosen conservation projects include snow leopards, poaching in the Qinghai Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, the rare Trogopterus xanthipes squirrel, using ultrasound to monitor endangered species, Mongolian wolves, Asian elephants, horned goats, the black-faced spoonbill and the Chinese alligator.
On Thursday, students will demonstrate their projects before taking questions from a panel of judges including the Chief Scientist of the Born Free Foundation, Professor Claudio Sillero, Shaun Fitzgerald of the Royal Institution, and other leading scientists and educators.
Prizes in each age category include medals, trophies and items for their school, with the overall competition winners receiving a prize of 5,000 pounds.
This is only the second time that the competition has been held. In 2018 the theme was rescue situations, and despite only being open to schools in the UK, there were 2000 entrants. The 2019 international competition has proved to be a hugely popular success and entries are already being accepted for next year's competition.
"Young people everywhere grow up with technology all around them, and for many it's part of daily life," said the STEM chairman of the BIEA, David Hanson, who is one of the judges.
"Our competition challenges them to step back and think how tech can be used for the benefit of mankind and the environment. It is more than just a STEM competition; it is about how children apply STEM.
"As a not-for-profit education organization working around the globe, the BIEA champions British education, STEM and innovation. Our competition brings all those themes together, and aims to inspire young people to use tech for good — and to fire young creative and technological minds around the world."