New Plastics STEM Challenge…launched at the Big Bang Fair


When I met with a group of D&T and Science teachers in the UK last year to explore which of Practical Action’s international projects would form the basis for our new STEM challenge…we were unanimous that our work in Nepal with waste collecting communities would make a great context for exploring some ‘big’ global issues with students.

In Kathmandu, Nepal, poverty forces thousands of people, including children to make a living from collecting rubbish from the streets and/or sorting through that rubbish at waste tips to re-sell plastics, metals, etc. for reuse or recycling.


Practical Action is working with these communities to enable access to safety equipment, and helping to provide education for children and adults, including business and enterprise training to help waste workers start or improve their own business.




Plastics Challenge

The new Plastics Challenge introduces students to the Nepalese context with a photograph based activity, highlighting the impact of waste materials on people and the environment both Nepal and the UK.

The follow-on activities within the challenge raise students’ awareness that while people in Nepal are viewing waste materials as something of value, despite the availability of systems and technology to reprocess waste materials in the UK, huge amounts are still entering landfill causing huge environmental concerns for future generations.

Every year in the UK alone, we produce 5million tonnes of plastic…75% of it end up in landfill.

The investigative activities within the challenge enable students to explore a range of issues including the impacts of plastics throughout their life cycle, the efficacy of recycling and making and exploring the characteristics of bio plastics versus oil based.

pc_web-images-pupilFollowing these activities, students are challenged to use their STEM and enterprise skills to develop ideas for solutions to some of the big impacts of plastics.

The inspirational students and teachers in schools who’ve helped us trial the challenge have developed a fabulous range of ideas, including making products from bio plastics through to developing products from waste plastics to sell for enterprise.

Launch of the challenge

Bren 1 Facebook

The students and teachers from Myton School and Redmoor Academy helped to launch the Plastics Challenge at the Big Bang event at the NEC last week.

So now it’s there on our website for you all to use!

We hope will enjoy the challenge.






2 responses to “New Plastics STEM Challenge…launched at the Big Bang Fair”

  1. Abigail Johnson Says:

    Admiration! You’ve done great work there and I’m glad to see that some efforts are already underway to reduce the amount of plastic waste and to clean up what’s already there! As a representative of a waste clearance company I see the urgent need of an educational campaign that shows people how to recycle their waste properly! Keep up the good work, Waste Removal Croydon Ltd.

  2. Bren Hellier Says:

    Thanks Abigail for your encouraging response. We’ve been delighted by how many schools are doing the Plastics Challenge. We’ve a linked competition for entry deadline on the 18th Dec 2015. So please feel free to promote to any schools local to you in Croydon. Thanks again.

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