Blackwater Integrated College, Downpatrick is one of six schools taking on the challenge of fuelling Northern Ireland for the future.
This is thanks to Global Green Cities, a joint initiative between the interactive discovery centre W5, and British Council Northern Ireland, which aims to help schools get to grips with renewable technologies.
Through the programme, Year 8 pupils at Blackwater Integrated College are finding out how green Belfast is compared to the rest of the world and learning why certain cities are leading the way when it comes to sustainable energy.
The scheme sees the school linking up with climate change ambassadors from across the globe such as Accra in Ghana, to enable the pupils to gain a global perspective on alternative energy solutions.
As part of the initiative, the school recently visited W5 to take part in a Green City Challenge workshop, where they used the latest robotic technology — Lego’s EV3s — to create the perfect green city. Working in teams, the students were set a number of challenges before competing to see who could win the race to engineer the best city of the future.
Speaking at the event, Ali McCammon, Head Teacher at Blackwater Integrated said:
“Being part of this project has been amazing for the school. For the pupils it’s really exciting to have the opportunity to get out of the classroom and get real hands-on experience, especially with a topic as important as renewable energy.
“It’s also great to be part of a project that is on a world scale – this lets our pupils broaden their horizons and think outside the box — it’s so important that they have a world view and realise there are so many opportunities out there.
“We would never have been able to come to W5 today if it wasn’t for schemes like this funded through the British Council. Longer-term, we will see where this project takes us, but hopefully it encourages us to adopt a more international approach and link up with schools and organisations around the world.”
Commenting on Global Green Cities, Elaine Steele, programme facilitator for W5 said: “This unique programme gives pupils the opportunity to explore the different aspects of a green city. They learn how reducing energy use, lowering carbon emissions and promoting investment in renewable energy all work together to promote sustainable living.
“W5’s previous experience in programmes with international links has proven that the powerful nature of first-hand information on climate change from across the globe has huge benefits to participating pupils. It provides them with a memorable experience where they gain skills and knowledge to build upon and utilise in their future academic lives.”
About the scheme, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director of British Council Northern Ireland said: “Events like this are extremely important for actively raising the awareness among teachers and students about the importance of implementing an international dimension in their school activities.
“Our international partnerships are at the heart of everything we do and initiatives such as this, and the likes of Erasmus+ and Connecting Classrooms, enable young people to understand issues of worldwide importance, gain a sense of social responsibility and develop the skills they need to succeed in a global economy.”
W5 is Northern Ireland’s innovative interactive science centre, which aims to fire the spirit of discovery and unlock the scientist in everyone. For more information visit www.w5online.co.uk
British Council Northern Ireland creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. To find out more about the opportunities available through the British Council visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org.