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Rainford High cleans up at Unilever Bright Futures awards

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Pupils at Rainford High College have taken home first prize at the Unilever Bright Futures awards.

The college’s Year 10 cohort claimed first prize at last week’s Unilever Bright Futures Celebration & Assessment Awards in Port Sunlight, for their innovative ‘Soap & Suds Toys’ product.

Going head to head with students from 21 schools across the region, teams were given three briefs to choose from to design an innovative new product for Unilever’s Bright Futures programme, which aims to help those in the developing world.

The initiative, which is delivered in collaboration with All About STEM, aims to develop the entrepreneurial skills of young people whilst using STEM to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for the future.

Choosing to tackle the ‘clean hands for all’ challenge, Rainford High’s team was tasked with designing a product to encourage children in the developing world to wash their hands, which would reduce the spread of disease and tackle child mortality.

Following an initial briefing with Unilever in November 2016, the team quickly developed ‘Soap & Suds Toys’ based around the concept of producing a transparent bar of soap with toys inside. The bar would then be packaged with a re-usable board game, encouraging children to wash their hands in order to release the toys and play the game.

The team spent the next four months designing and developing their product, producing prototype soaps and testing different ingredients before developing a citronella-based formula to act as an insect repellent.

A final report was produced highlighting the five key areas of the product design: formulation, packaging, consumer technical insight, processing and digital.

On the day, students presented their prototype to the board of judges, using diagrams, formulations, handouts and concept models. Receiving full marks from every group, ‘Soap & Suds Toys’ was the stand-out winner.

Following judging, Unilever delivered a talk to students about its Bright Futures Programme and All About STEM discussed ways to facilitate STEM in schools and The Big Bang North West.

Michelle Dow, managing director at All About STEM, says: ““The Bright Futures project has been huge success and we are honoured to be a part of it. The schools involved all did such a great job on their projects the judges had a really tough job. I’m not sure who enjoyed it the most! I would not be surprised to see the winning idea on supermarket shelves in the future, it was such an innovative design.”

Ian Young, principal at Rainford High, says: “The Unilever Bright Futures programme with All About STEM has proven to be an incredibly engaging way for students to learn more about the possibilities of STEM learning. As a school we’re always looking for ways to inspire our pupils and help them explore various areas of the curriculum outside of the classroom. I’m confident that this experience will have helped to inform our year 10 team and hopefully offered some insight into further study and career options.

“I’m incredibly proud of our winning team’s innovation, hard work and determination. What’s more, the challenges set throughout the day encouraged pupils to develop many skills, including teamwork, communication, leadership, creativity and presentation skills.”

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