The vision of the Green Innovation Awards is to inspire students to develop a lifelong passion for green innovation, connect and strengthen the local community and empower young people to believe that they can make a difference.
This vision stands in contrast to the majority of awards and competitions in STEM, which are dominated by big business, in particular by the weapons industry. As the MAPWA report has shown, the weapons industry uses sponsorship and partnerships with schools to both launder their reputation, and to identify talented students and draw them into what is called “the STEM pipeline”.
The Green Innovation awards were founded in 2018 in Lismore by local chiropractor Founded by local Chiropractor Dr Bridie Cullinane. According to Dr Cullinane, the project was framed in this way because, “The opportunity to present their ideas before key stakeholders in the community is really powerful because it makes those students feel that their concerns for the environment are being heard and that there is support for the solutions that they provide”.
The aim of the awards is to involve students in in an exciting environment and STEM based competition”, in this case a competition where they get to bring their concerns into their learning “ to invent, develop and present innovative ideas in the categories of:
– water management/waste management
– building and packaging material
The awards are held bi-annually now and have grown as well. The Awards involve schools and students from the Gold Coast to Port Macquarie. Along with the awards program, the now registered charity supports teachers and schools to include green innovation in STEM teaching programs, providing resources for students and teachers.
The success of the awards is proof that STEM can be engaging to young people if it connects to their concerns for their futures, connects to the issues that are being faced by their communities, and invites them to think critically about what they want and have a say in their future.
Check out their website for classroom resources, and information on entering the 2024 round of awards.
Watch the 2020 awards ceremony here!