Using offline artificial intelligence, hydroelectric plumbing and wearable air quality detectors have been crowned the winners of the Youth Industrial Strategy Competition, the national science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) initiative, run by the BSA and supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), that aims to find solutions from secondary school students to the greatest challenges facing modern society.

Judged remotely by a panel of STEM experts, the students were awarded first place in their respective age categories thanks to their creativity and innovative way of addressing the Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenges.

Winning the Junior category was Ava Garside (pictured above) from Allerton Grange School in Leeds. Her ‘Perfect Sense’ project proposed a dynamic way of mapping air pollution to discover the cleanest air quality route to school or work. Her project was based on the AI and Data Grand Challenge, which seeks to find innovative ways of incorporating artificial intelligence and data.

Year 11 students Marcelo Ortuno Floria, Pip Roberts, Jack Jones, Ruby North and Anna-Maria Tsvetkova from Mary Webb School and Science College in Shrewsbury, were successful in the Intermediate category for their hydroelectric plumbing power project. Their device is fitted into household water pipes to act as a mini hydroelectric generator, reducing the reliance on electricity from the national grid to tackle the Clean Growth challenge.

Claiming first prize in the Senior category, St Wilfrid's Catholic Comprehensive School student Rushil Patel presented a project that uses offline artificial intelligence to accurately process a specific object or event in the world around the user, conveying limitless information in the most discrete way possible. The West Sussex student hopes it can help people with Autism not only identify, but also respond to perceived emotions.

Marcelo Ortuno Floria, a student at Mary Webb School and Science College said they were very happy to have been crowned Intermediate winners:

"We all put so much effort into our project and are so thankful that the judges were as pleased with the project as we are," he said.

"This competition has provided a great opportunity for us to apply the things we learn in school to the real world and we hope that our project, or others like it, can go on to make a real difference in people's lives."

With the live finals event cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the competition organisers, the British Science Association and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) asked schools to create videos of students presenting their finished projects and the information they’d been planning to share with judges.

Head of Public Engagement at UKRI, Tom Saunders, said the quality of the finalists’ projects were excellent.

"We are delighted to see students from across the country demonstrating such positive engagement with STEM.

"Now more than ever, it is important for students to realise that they have an important part to play in addressing society's most challenging issues – the projects that students have created as part of this competition show just how valuable their ideas are. We congratulate the winners and wish all the finalists every continued success in the future."

Caitlin Brown, Project Manager for the Youth Industrial Strategy Competition, said it was great to see the finalists present their creative and innovative ideas at such a challenging time.

"We would like to congratulate each of the teams on their success," she said.

"We are thrilled with the level of engagement and interest we have received around the Youth Industrial Strategy Competition, and are excited to see these students, and more, continue to develop their love of STEM through hands-on projects and activities linked to their own interests."

Over 2,000 students between the ages of 11 and 19 participated in the Competition which saw their teams submitting projects that address one of the UK Government’s four Grand Challenges: Clean Growth, Artificial Intelligence and Data, Ageing Society and the Future of Mobility.