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TEDx Global Youth Countdown

Published: 9 December 2020

Last month, Richard Taylor Primary School, hub for the new Ogden Harrogate Partnership took part in a climate change initiative led by Dr Becky Parker, Head of Physics, Benenden School (hub for the new Tunbridge Wells Partnership). They were among five schools (including former Ogden partnership school Chipping Campden School) who contributed to a TEDx Global Youth Countdown talk.

You can find the TEDx Global Youth Countdown talk here: listen to what our future and current experts are saying about the climate change crisis and how it should be tackled.

The talk featured the students showcasing their work with the En-ROADS model, and also discussing other innovative work they are doing around climate solutions. The students’ contributions were interspersed with talks they had selected from leading environmental experts who had taken part in TED Countdown.

“When the first COVID-19 lockdown struck in March this year, we wanted to create an alternative focus for GCSE and A-level students who suddenly had no exams and no material work for the rest of their academic year,” explains Becky. “Working with five schools, we introduced the MIT Sloane School En-ROADS climate simulator training programme and were delighted that so many worked through the eight-week online training programme.

“The programme provided substantial knowledge and understanding of the climate crisis and we applied to run out own TEDx Countdown event to share our work, which was agreed by the TED organisation,” says Becky.

Among the schools featured in the TEDx countdown were Richard Taylor Primary School, hub for the new Ogden Harrogate Partnership. In their contribution to the talk, the pupils shared all the confusing feelings they felt about the climate crisis and vowed to “turn their feelings into actions.”

They explained how they had used their science skills to campaign against a road that was going to destroy local biodiversity and showcased their own school wildlife area that they have created in a disused area of the school grounds, with lots of support from local STEM experts, businesses and the RHS. The children also shared the investigations they had completed as part of the Institute for Research in Schools MELT project looking at how they could reduce their school’s carbon footprint.

Students measure biodiversity in a field
Students from Richard Taylor Primary School measure biodiversity in a local field.

The children have worked with their teachers to improve school recycling and composting, made bee-bombs to attract more wildlife and made eco bricks to reuse plastic that cannot be recycled. They also looked at ways they could encourage their community to reduce, reuse and recycle!

During lockdown the school focused on The Sustainable Learning Goals for 2030 and planned their next project. They are now looking at school dinners, trying to understand more about where their food comes from and looking at how they can use more school grown or local produce. They have also persuaded their school governors to let them introduce a food recycling scheme. This is all part of their mission to look at sustainable food production, which has a huge impact on climate change.

students weeding morning as Richard Taylor School started to build its wildlife area
Family weeding morning as Richard Taylor Primary School started to build its wildlife area.

“We are becoming the climate scientists of tomorrow”
The school has successfully applied for a Royal Society Tomorrow’s Climate Scientists grant. They are investigating whether they can grow food sustainably all year round using hydroponics, a poly-tunnel and raised beds; and looking at what can be done to produce and consume food in a sustainable way. They will be working with local STEM experts and businesses.

“This TEDx Countdown project has been really exciting for our children to be involved with,” says Emma Crisell, Deputy Head at the school and lead for the Harrogate Partnership. “They have been learning from and inspired by the secondary students also involved and have felt empowered to really make a difference with their own real-world science research. We are so proud of the children who were able to present their ideas as part of the TEDx event.”

“As a partnership, we are now involved in a really exciting international competition themed around climate change,” enthuses Emma. “Through Science on Stage, I have been collaborating with a teacher in Italy – where climate change lessons are now compulsory for all children. Year 5 pupils will be working on their own solar panel research projects – using resources provided by The Eureka Project Team in Italy – each partnership school will hold their own competition and the overall winning partnership team will showcase their work at an international science fair in Italy!

“The TEDx Global Youth Countdown event showed what fantastic potential our young people have to change their future,” says Becky. “We want to enable and support them in doing this and hope that this exciting initiative will eventually lead to an accredited award for student engagement in climate change research. I am looking forward to sharing our climate research with the schools in my Tunbridge Wells Partnership,” concludes Becky.

Climate Change Ambassadors from Chipping Campden School (former hub for the Ogden Chipping Campden Partnership) also took part in the TEDx Youth Countdown.

They talked about the work they are doing at their school to involve younger pupils in initiatives to take positive climate action, including a school Climate Champion Award scheme and a Christmas Climate Challenge. Students from Chipping Campden are also working on an environmental research project with Southampton University, whilst other students have been asked to submit the first ever student article for Catalyst (a national magazine for 14-19 year olds) on their environmental initiatives. The Ambassadors are working to build an eco-friendly roundhouse on the school field and to introduce wildlife areas; community clean-up initiatives are also being developed.

The Ambassadors have participated in the Royal Institution Youth Forum and have since been invited to work in collaboration with the RI to develop a Primary Masterclass series on Climate Change; work is also underway for other climate change after school clubs.

Building networks
Chipping Campden school has also now challenged Richard Taylor Primary School to design an eco-Christmas poster to encourage others to consider the choices they are making.

You can find the TEDx Global Youth Countdown talk here: listen to what our future and current experts are saying about the climate change crisis and how it should be tackled.

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