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Quality of China entries at London final of STEM awards astounding

(China Daily)    08:03, July 10, 2019

Team Typhoon from China take photos with the BIEA's STEM Chairman David Hanson. [Ouyang Xueyan / China Daily]

Students from China were among the big winners when the prize-giving ceremony for a global STEM competition organized by the British International Education Association, known as the BIEA, was held at the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, North London.

The STEM competition – science, technology, math, and engineering – was run in association with the Born Free Foundation. It was divided into three age categories, 9-11, 12-14, and 15-17, and saw teams of students given a budget of 100 pounds ($125) each to devise a project for how to use drone technology in a wildlife conservation project.

From thousands of entries, schools from 18 countries were shortlisted for the final stages, where they had to create a presentation around their project, answer questions from a panel of scientists and educationalists, and undertake a drone flying test.

Teams from Beijing and Macao were among the numerous Chinese representatives to make it to the final stages, and two of the top prizes went to teams of students from China.

Third place overall in the age 9-11 category went to the Earth Guardians 2 team from Hangzhou Shanghai World Foreign Language Primary School, for its project relating to snow leopard conservation, and second place overall in the 11-14 class was won by Team Typhoon from No. 2 Secondary School Attached to East China Normal University, for its program to track an endangered species of squirrel.

Team Typhoon member RenXiaofeng, who goes by the English name of Robotics, said the whole experience had been a thrill.

"I have entered some robotics competitions before, but this is the first time I've worked with UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)," he said. "There are awesome children from all around the world here and I've made friends. I feel very pleased to have been here."

The overall top prize, and the 5,000 pound winners' check, went to a team from United World College in Mostar, Bosnia. Its project focused on monitoring endangered mountain vultures, a task made more difficult by the huge numbers of landmines left over from the Bosnian War a generation ago.

David Hanson, chairman of STEM at the BIEA, said the standard of entries from China was impressive.

"We're absolutely delighted to see so much international interest. There were teams from all over the world, including some very strong ones from China, some of whom were winners, so that's great for the country," he said. "What really impressed me was how these children aren't fearful of science and technology, they embrace it and see its potential – they realize it can be a force for good. China is already a major force around the globe on so many levels, so clearly that's only going to continue in the future."

This was the second staging of the competition, with the first having been limited to schools in the United Kingdom. Planning for the 2020 competition has already begun and Chinese cities have expressed an interest in hosting regional finals.

"The quality of the work we've seen is truly astounding," Hanson said. "The judges are international experts in their field, and they said some of these projects are up to undergraduate level – and the youngest children taking part are just 9 years old."

Professor Claudio Sillero, chief scientist at the Born Free Foundation, said the combination of technology and conservation had clearly caught the students' imaginations.

"The competition provides a great vehicle for that aspiration by addressing specific technical challenges to protect wildlife," he said. "As illustrated by some of the cool uses these youngsters have found for their drones, we foster their interest in technology while developing innovative ways of valuing and protecting wildlife."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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