Winners of the first Young Darwin Prize were announced at a prestigious event in the Natural History Museum’s Attenborough Studio yesterday.
School pupils from Middlesex, Devon and the West Midlands received their awards for creating the best video news reports about their wildlife and conservation projects.
The Young Darwin Prize is organised by the Natural History Museum and supported by Defra and was launched to help young people in England celebrate their own contributions to 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.
In the winning videos, promising wildlife presenters show how compost heaps, ponds and log piles help to conserve wildlife, and also how a school is using waste vegetable oil to produce bio-diesel.
Judges awarded marks for creativity, science content, communication and quality.
Winning schools received £500 to spend on a biodiversity trip for their group and all pupils were taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum.
Year 3 at Hampton Hill School, Middlesex won the Key Stage 2 award for their Hampton Hill Eco Warriors video. It is a fast-paced, entertaining film explaining what biodiversity is, why it is important and what the pupils are doing in their school grounds to protect it.
The school keeps chickens, adding the manure to its compost heap, which is broken down by worms. There is also a pond and log pile to encourage a variety of invertebrates.
‘An excellent film, well constructed, informative and entertaining. The standout film of the competition,’ says judge Simon Devine.
Year 8 at Axe Valley School, Devon won the Key Stage 3 award A Green Enterprise. Pupils set up a business in their school to convert waste vegetable oil into bio-fuel. In this documentary, they demonstrate the chemical process that occurs when heating waste oil and adding a catalyst to create bio-fuel.
Their clear explanation prompted judge David Ng to comment, ‘A brilliant job explaining the background on bio-diesel production. Excellent.’ Dr Honor Gay said, ‘A really impressive project. I never really understood how bio-fuel worked before.’
Year 6 at Bishop’s Itchington School, Warwickshire were Key Stage 2 runners-up with their The Yellow Land video. It is a film about a community project to turn part of an old limestone quarry into a nature reserve. The film, made by the Year 6 nature club pupils, explores how they are encouraging wildlife in the area, by removing invasive scrub and putting bird boxes in the trees.
Finham Park School, Coventry were Key Stage 3 runners-up with their Fighting for the Freedom of the Ford. This was a creative drama about a fictitious proposal to build a road through a real wildlife-rich ford – Canley Ford near Coventry. A pressure group of toy badgers, frogs and rabbits successfully argue their case to fight off the human intervention.
The Young Darwin Prize was judged by Martin Hughes-Games, BBC TV presenter, Simon Devine, Deputy Director of Content at the Central Office of Information, Dr Honor Gay, Head of Learning at the Natural History Museum, Dr Mark Spencer, Botany Curator at the Natural History Museum and Dr David Ng, a science literacy academic and Head of Innovation at the Michael Smith Laboratory, University of British Columbia.