Pupils' plastic pollution data in the spotlight

The Gazette campaign Get Drastic With Plastic aims to raise awareness of the issues surrounding the proliferation of plastic waste, which is affecting all walks of modern life, particularly the environment and our seas. We hope to encourage people to reduce single-use plastic.

The five Newminster Middle School and Technology College pupils who presented their work at the Big Bang @ Parliament event.
The five Newminster Middle School and Technology College pupils who presented their work at the Big Bang @ Parliament event.

Successful science students at Newminster Middle School and Technology College in Morpeth went to London to showcase their project.

The team of Maria O’Shea, Amber Hodson, Erin Collings and Connie Hewison were among the winners at The Big Bang North East regional heat.

Get Drastic With Plastic, a Northumberland Gazette environmental campaign.

This means that the Year 8 pupils will take their place in the final of The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers competition at Birmingham’s NEC in March 2019.

As they will need to expand on their initial project – called The Secret Life of Plastic – another Newminster pupil, Anna Jakubovics, has joined the team.

The five girls and 10 other UK finalists were selected to present what they have done so far at the Big Bang @ Parliament event, jointly hosted by EngineeringUK and the Parliamentary and Science Committee.

They said: “Not only did we get to meet lots of important people and learn about their careers, we were also able to inform them about our project and what we aim to achieve in our work.

“We had so much fun and we got to meet our local MP Ian Lavery, as well as MP for Sunderland Central Julie Elliott.

“Our research project looks into how plastic pollution affects our world and what we can do to reduce single use plastic. This has been very interesting to investigate – from carrying out experiments to doing assemblies at our school. “Words cannot explain how excited we are for the upcoming UK finals in March.”

Their work between now and the event in Birmingham will include contacting local businesses and Mr Lavery will visit Newminster to get an update.

Also at the regional heat in Sunderland, Newminster’s Simone Syndercombe was awarded the North East Award for Creativity for her Theremino project.

This involved creating a home-made theremin – an electronic musical instrument with two antennas or sensors that is played without being touched.

Has your school conducted a project on plastic waste? We’d love to hear from you and feature some of your work as part of the Get Drastic With Plastic campaign.

What you can do

Greater awareness and a change in attitudes can reduce plastic waste.

Since the plastic-bag charge began, a reduction of plastic bags has been found on UK coasts.

We are seeing further commitment and positive steps from the Government and many companies are committing to changing their packaging.

These things combined can have a huge impact.

But there some steps that everyone can take:

1. Buy a refillable water bottle;

2. Buy a reusable coffee cup;

3. Say no to plastic straws;

4. Use paper-stemmed cotton buds;

5. Join a beach clean.