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As we progress with preparations for Charge Around Australia, scheduled to start in September this year, the UK team are continuing to make roadshow school visits around the country. Science lectures and demonstrations showcase the technology that we are set to use on the Australia road trip and help promote STEM education. 

Students from Urmston Grammar in Trafford, Greater Manchester, and Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Sixth Form College (TIGHS) in Blackburn, Lancashire are amongst the first in the country to learn about our pioneering sustainability project. 

Project director Stuart McBain visited both schools to talk to the students about the challenge. As part of the visits, there were live links to the the Centre for Organic Electronics (COE) at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, where top scientists are developing what is believed to be the world’s most affordable, flexible and lightweight solar panels. Along with an opportunity to ask questions, pupils were also able to touch this paper-thin innovative solar material.

Solar energy for the future of our planet

Stuart explained: “Engaging with schools is an important element of the project. We want to educate young people about the importance of solar energy for the future of our planet. When we set off later this year on our three-month challenge the students can track our daily progress. We will also be visiting Australian schools almost every day during our trip so there’s plenty of opportunity for UK students and those in Oz to join forces and learn from each other’s experiences. This is truly an international project.”

Stuart with students from Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Sixth Form College, Blackburn, displaying solar sheets.
Stuart with students from Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Sixth Form College, Blackburn, displaying solar sheets.

Taslim Patel, Director of Learning for Science at TIGHS said: “We all know that our use of fossil fuels is not sustainable and that we need to find solutions to our current energy problems. When we found out the Charge Around Australia project is going to use printed solar material to power an electric vehicle around such a vast country as Australia, we absolutely wanted to find out more about this innovative STEM project.

Riffat Wall, Headteacher at Urmston Grammar said: “Solar power will be increasingly important for future generations, and this is an exciting opportunity to learn first-hand from the experts about new innovations in technology which could be a game changer here in the UK and around the world.”

New adaptable technologies

Dr Ben Vaughan from the COE at The University of Newcastle explained: “One of the greatest issues the world is facing is energy production. We have billions of people who still have little to no access to clean energy or electrical power and the effect of this on climate change is being felt world-wide. Imagine a world where any surface in any location can become an opportunity for sustainable energy generation. Charge Around Australia will help us bring attention to these issues and understand how new, adaptable technologies can change the script on these critical global challenges. We are very excited to be able to talk to students in the UK about our thought-provoking and revolutionary concepts that will help to decarbonise our world.”