This year, our student changemakers are tackling their biggest challenge yet: the climate crisis. Young people will inherit the harsh reality of climate change and according to research from Teach the Future, '70% of teachers in the UK feel they have not received adequate training to educate students on climate change, its implications for the environment and societies around the world, and how these implications can be addressed'.
Driven by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, there are moves from across the four nations of the UK to address climate change within education. While we all strive to ensure that ‘learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development’, it takes time to embed new practices within curriculums.
We need to act sooner and that’s why we’re helping educators from across the UK through our new computing course, Innovate for Climate Change. On demand teacher training means it’s simple for teachers to pick up and deliver and there is zero cost to schools because it’s funded by our amazingly generous partners BNY Mellon, DeepMind, EPAM, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Google, RSA, SHCJ and Siemens.
It's bringing solutions to the climate crisis down to a level where they feel as though they're empowered, as though they can make an impact."”
Graham Stoddart, Computer Science Teacher, Dunoon Grammar School, Scotland
Students engaging in Innovate for Climate Change, work in teams over 12 sessions to design an app to act on climate change. The course is mapped to the Computing/Technologies curriculums in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as other subject areas, where relevant as it provides climate change education as well as cross-cutting digital skills.
We’ve achieved Skills Builder accreditation to ensure the course develops the essential skills students need, while giving opportunities to practise them with industry experts through online sessions and via our annual national Showcase.
Student Climate Innovation to be proud of!
We already have more than 400 students engaged in Innovate for Climate and our initial pilot found that 85% of students felt more knowledgeable about climate change after taking the course. Young people’s knowledge and passion for change was clear to see in the climate app ideas submitted for our annual Showcase.
To give a flavour of the pioneering climate tech innovation from Apps for Good students, here’s a selection of their ideas...
1. Water conservation
The Drop by Drop app, awarded Judge’s Favourite in the 2022 Showcase by category sponsor BNY Mellon, was inspired by the students’ personal experience of a lack of water. Haalah, Ritisha, Hooria, Rameen and Anoosha, from Woodford County High School for Girls in London, set out to decrease the amount of water we use and find ways of using water more sustainably. Their target audience is anyone that wants to be a part of saving our planet but mostly teenagers. The app gives users a survey to show their water usage with a score. It then offers challenges to reduce their water consumption and provides resources to learn more.
The team said, “This app can help people’s lives as they will have many different reasons for decreasing water usage for example; being more sustainable or wanting to lower bills. Also, this will help the planet as there will be less people wasting water, making our world a better place to live in. Whatever the reason, drop by drop will try and help.”
2. Reducing Carbon Emissions
CarbonGPS (awarded ‘People’s Choice’ in the 2022 Showcase) is an app that gives people the power to fight climate change by using features including reminders and challenges to track carbon emissions. Driven by a belief in making small changes to make a big difference, Hasnain, Humza, Sohidul and Mahdi from Challney High School for Boys in Luton, Bedfordshire created this innovative app to track carbon emissions and show how users can decrease their carbon footprint. Features such as barcode scanners and leadership boards keep users engaged in the app.
Speaking about their experience, the students shared, “Our product is aimed at people worldwide who would like to take a stand against climate change and to make a difference no matter how big or small, using the tools we provide, as Small changes can make a Big difference.”
3. Greener Travel
The students behind TravelBee created an app that benefits users in two ways: bringing down the cost of travel as well as reducing emissions. TravelBee was developed by Lucas, Matthew, and Thomas from Dr Challoner's Grammar School.
The interactive app uses government DNV API data, which provides up-to-date information about energy consumption to evaluate the fuel efficiency and carbon emissions of the user’s mode of transportation, whether car, bus or train. Users can share their efforts of going green and benefit from the mapping system, which helps provide a balance between carbon efficiency and low cost.
Speaking about their biggest challenge, the TravelBee team said, “One of the biggest challenges faced whilst making our app was marketing and appealing to a select demographic. The idea of a travel app has potential to appeal to a massive range of ages, but this would make it a struggle to market and develop, as we would need to attune finer details of the app depending on the group of people we chose.”
Our annual Showcase celebrates young innovators’ unique ideas brought to life through Apps for Good courses. Big thanks go to our students, who have worked extremely hard to develop and share their climate ideas and to their teachers for delivering the pioneering new course. Thanks also go to our Innovate for Climate Change partners, whose generous support means Innovate for Climate Change is 100% free of charge to schools, with special thanks to BNY Mellon, who also supported the production of this article.
Innovate for Climate Change is mapped to all UK curriculums and is available to schools 100% free of charge. You can access the course now.