UK's first three winning school teams in biodiversity challenge

EarthEcho International, the global nonprofit dedicated to building a youth movement to protect and restore our planet, has proudly announced the three pupil-led teams selected as the winners of the OurEcho Challenge, which is supported by Aramco Europe.

The winning teams, from Rochdale, Reading and Rochester were part a STEM competition designed to engage young problem solvers in protecting the diversity of species and ecosystems that make life on earth possible. This is the first year the OurEcho Challenge was available to enter for UK students.

The OurEcho Challenge encourages UK students, guided by a teacher or mentor, to take a closer look at biodiversity in their communities by identifying threats to local ecosystems and proposing solutions to preserve, protect or repair those natural resources.

Each team showed enthusiasm. The winning team from Falinge Park High School in Rochdale, Lancashire got a £5,000 grant to increase the amount of sphagnum moss in their local peat bogs to make a positive impact on biodiversity and air quality. Second place with a £2,500 grant went to a team from Reading School in Reading, Berkshire. This team is designing an eco-friendly garbage truck that runs on solar panels and biofuel. The truck design is outfitted with a collection system that will separate land-fill waste from compostable waste, which can be used as biofuel. This team also took home the People’s Choice Award. And a team from the Thomas Aveling School in Rochester, Kent came in third. They received a £1,000 grant to work on their plans to create safe-haven habitats in marshlands and fields to protect animals such as hedgehogs, squirrels, and insects from human disturbance, focusing on education.

Accomplished young ambassadors

“The 2023 OurEcho Challenge grand prize winners impressed our judges with their in-depth knowledge of local biodiversity issues and their vision in developing viable solutions tailored to their communities,” said EarthEcho founder Philippe Cousteau, Jr. “We congratulate all of the finalist teams who participated in the Challenge and we know their passion and dedication will inspire others to take action for a sustainable future for all.”

The winning teams were selected after presenting their projects virtually to a panel of expert judges and with the public on May 25th during a Facebook live stream event. A panel of judges—comprised of youth, environmental and corporate leaders, engineers, scientists, and teachers—reviewed presentations from the finalist teams and selected the three grand prize winners based on their projects' vision, scientific rigor, feasibility, and the teams' pitch.

Our very own Aramco specialist took part in judging the school teams' pitches. “This competition is a way for students to develop the key skills in the growing area of STEM, which Aramco has identified as critical not just for today but for the future. Seeing these students get excited about the biodiversity in their own communities is a wonderful testament to the success of the challenge. It is even more rewarding to see them coming up with solutions to improve flora and fauna, and we are proud to be associated with such wonderful and accomplished young ambassadors of the challenge”, said Muayad Al Aaraj, Environmental Scientist.