Born Free and BIEA announce STEM competition shortlist

A STEM competition run by the Born Free charity the British International Education Association (BIEA) has announced a 45 team shortlist featuring schools from 18 different countries.

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Students from Coleraine Grammar School in Northern Ireland, UK learn how to fly a drone with Alan Hook, Associate Head of School (Media) at Ulster University, Coleraine (Credit: BIEA)

The 2019 BIEA International STEM Youth Innovation Competition is themed ‘Fighting Extinction via Drone Technology’ and challenged students to come up with innovative drone designs to help protect endangered species. Projects submitted in the first round focused on a large variety of animals, including snow leopards, black rhinos, pangolins, turtles and elephants.

“The overall quality of the reports was astounding, more so when we consider that many young people were submitting reports in a second language,” said Dr Alex Holmes, lead competition judge. “In some cases, the standards of secondary research and innovative experimental investigations to gather primary data for drone specifications were worthy of undergraduates rather than secondary school students.”

The 45 shortlisted teams now have to modify/build a drone to reflect their report design ideas as laid down in the first round within a fixed budget. They must submit two videos to the judges – one to demonstrate their drone in action and able to complete a set of tasks, a second to visually present an outline of their project to date.

Teams will then be invited to come to the international final at the London Royal Air Force Museum on 4th July, presenting to a panel of expert judges. A grand prize of £5,000 will be awarded to the top team and a variety of other prizes across the age categories will be shared amongst participating teams.

How drones and AI are protecting endangered wildlife

“Wildlife is coming under increasing threat from human actions so Born Free is thrilled to be partnering with BIEA on this competition,” said Laura Gosset, head of Education at Born Free. “The submissions we have received so far have been outstanding and we are very excited to see the progress made by the finalists in the next round.”

“This competition is about ensuring that the next generation understand the real-world application of STEM skills. Ultimately for us as a charity, how we can effectively use technology to protect and monitor wildlife populations could be the difference between extinction and survival for some of the world’s most threatened species.”