Solutions for the Planet are a social enterprise working in Glasgow and Falkirk (as well as nationally). They are a small team of 4, working across different areas in the UK and their vision is for “a generation of young people ready and able to respond to 21st Century sustainability challenges.” Learning for Sustainability Scotland was the first membership organisation they joined and are looking forward to working with the network – and our members – in the near future. In this “Meet Our Members” blog, they introduce the work that they do and invite you to get in touch if you would like to bring the Big Ideas competition to your school next year. They are also looking for judges to sit on the panel, so please get involved if you can contribute your expertise.
Solutions for the Planet achieve our vision by engaging young people with the STEM (science, tech, engineering, and maths) skills they will need to succeed in future employment, education, and training, and to make the world a better place. This happens through our Big Ideas Competition where young people work in teams to come up with a solution (Big Idea) to solve a sustainability problem of their choice. This idea can then be honed into a business plan for entry into our competition. We work with students in S1-S3 (11-14 years old) and deliver our initial Big Ideas Day in schools with the support of teachers.
In Scotland, we are partnered by SGN and Tarmac, who support our programme both financially and by providing staff to be trained as mentors. Mentoring develops communication skills for staff and students, gives local businesses the chance to engage with their communities and meet their future workforce. And, most importantly, mentoring gives our young people much-valued experience of engaging with employers in an informal manner.
Our Big Ideas Competition is now running in three schools across the Glasgow and Falkirk areas. Teams are now well on the way to developing their Big Ideas into business plans with the support of their mentors. Not to give too much away but we have a range of ideas in development including barn filters to reduce methane emissions from dairy farms, robots to remove plastic waste from the ocean and specialist apps to tackle social sustainability issues such as gender equality and mental health.
By the end of March, we will have collected these ideas and will then shortlist a number of teams to present at our Scottish Final held at Holyrood House in May. The winner of this event will take their idea to the National Final at the Palace of Westminster where they compete against finalists from Yorkshire, the West Midlands, the North East, and the South East.
We are currently looking for a panel to judge our Scottish finalists and would welcome anyone with a background in sustainability, environmental science, or engineering to get in touch.
The expansion into Scotland has been an exciting time for Solutions for the Planet and due to interest from schools we hope to run a larger-scale programme across Edinburgh and Glasgow next year. Scotland’s pro-activity in terms of engaging the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has made this expansion particularly successful as students and teachers are genuinely engaged and excited about the ways in which they can meet the SDGs through our programme.
Any teachers or schools interested in the programme for next academic year can contact me directly to find out how to get involved.
About Jess: Jess is the Programme Coordinator for Solutions for the Planet in Scotland. Before that, she was a research zoologist working on animal scent communication in Uganda. Sustainable development principles underlie all aspects of her life from eating a locally-sourced veggie diet to recycling old clothes as part of her crafting hobbies. She is pleased to be associated with Learning for Sustainability Scotland and looks forward to working with us and meeting our members soon.
Drop Jess an email here.