By Anna Kosteletos
Energy & Sustainability Manager for Royal Holloway, University of London
This week twenty bright young children from four local schools came to our Campus at Royal Holloway, to take part in the Science of Sustainability Challenge. This event was run to enable them to learn about careers in science, with a particular focus on sustainability.
I thought this event was incredibly important as it promotes science in a way that the children attending can relate to in their everyday lives. This was particularly pertinent this week as the Rio 20+ earth summit is currently taking place and this really puts the real-world challenges of sustainability in the spotlight and enables the children to relate what is in the news to their surroundings and the experiences that they have had at the College. This allows them to realise how important pursuing a career in science could be.
Even more importantly, a number of academic staff and some students from our Science Faculty at Royal Holloway gave up their time and showed their true dedication to promoting the sciences to the children by partaking in this event. Each of the students and staff spent their time running activities with the children; the activities were inclusive and allowed the children to undertake some exercises such as air monitoring and pond dipping, which they thoroughly enjoyed. One child commented: “I liked the pond dipping and finding out about new insects”
This event may have inspired these children to follow a career in the sciences, which to me seems very important, as they are the future generations that will be influential and central to the science of sustainability in years to come.
At the end of these two days the children were set a challenge to go away and come up with a campaign to promote sustainable behaviours at their school. They were told that this could be focused on one of the topics that they had learnt about which included water conservation, air monitoring, fairtrade, biodiversity, energy conservation or waste and behavioural change in sustainability. This will help them to deepen their knowledge and empower them to take actions to initiate change in their schools.
They will return in a few weeks to present their ideas and the winning team will win £150 to implement their idea. In my mind this allows them to learn that they can take action for sustainability and that every little act makes a difference, as it is the efforts of the collective that will help us to meet the challenges that we face in relation to sustainability.