Schools from across the region have been playing their part in helping Teesside become an energy capital by setting out their own solutions for achieving Net Zero.

The fourth annual Big Big Project kicked off last year, with teams from 11 schools competing and helping to develop their own skills and engage with future careers.

Through two knockout rounds and the final, students were tasked with creating a presentation on how they would make their towns Net Zero by 2050, identifying the main causes of greenhouse gases and setting out a plan detailing the measures they would take to cut carbon. The final also saw them create a promotional campaign to get residents and businesses on board.

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In the end, judges crowned Laurence Jackson School in Guisborough as the winners.

The Big Big Project is delivered in partnership with global technical consultancy firm Jacobs, which has a base in Stockton. It is supported by the Department for Work and Pensions and Darlington consultancy firm Achieving Change.

The programme aims to develop communication, confidence, leadership, teamwork, resilience and problem-solving skills, all vital as huge Teesside projects start to take shape.

Judges included representatives from FujiFilm Biosynth Technologies, Teesside University, DWP and CPI, with further firms such as Balfour Beatty, Atkins Global and Faithful & Gould serving as business mentors, supporting the teams through each round.

Egglescliffe School & Sixth Form College, Laurence Jackson School and Outwood Academy Bydales all reached the final, where judges said Laurence Jackson had conducted detailed research and compiled data on the causes of climate change and then used this to inform their field research with the public in Guisborough.

Helen Mitchinson, Careers Education Coordinator at the school, said: “Taking part in the Big Big Project has been an amazing opportunity for our students.

“As a group of students from year 8 to year 10, I have seen their confidence, presentation skills and how they have worked together as a team blossom, and I am so proud for them to win the award at the final this year. This saw them work on how to reduce Net Zero by 2050, which they are now very passionate about, and are looking forward to working on related projects in the future.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “With the region setting the Net Zero agenda with mammoth projects such as Net Zero Teesside at Teesworks, there’s no doubt that this is where the careers of the future are headed, enabling our young people to Stay Local and Go Far. Whether it’s working directly in the sector or to make other industries cleaner, these issues will play a major part in businesses of all types.

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“It’s great that these students got a head-start in thinking about decarbonisation and putting together plans and presentations, all the while improving their own skills which are crucial to any successful career.”

Mike Bowen, Jacobs’ Senior Associate Director, said: “It’s clear to see from the presentations that the students have worked exceptionally hard to grasp an understanding of the Net Zero agenda and we hope that through participating this year we will enthuse and inform local students to make smart choices and challenge themselves to create solutions for our future.

“The ripple effect of their actions will impact positively on climate change, with some hopefully taking that one step further and considering an employment opportunity in the growing Net Zero sector in the region.”