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Students Reach Youth Grand Challenges' National Final

Youth Grand ChallengesA team of students from Waingels College in Reading has been victorious in reaching the grand finals of the Youth Grand Challenges – a new education initiative by the British Science Association and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The competition, which was launched by Bill Gates in October 2016, has called on young people aged 11-to-19-years to use science and technology to help solve global health and development challenges.  

Grace Roylance, aged 14, Aimee Wallace, aged 14, and Mia Wooldridge, aged 13, wowed the judges with their innovative project to help tackle some of the biggest challenges in global health and development. 

In their project, the students researched, designed and constructed a floating farm that people in developing countries could use to grow crops when flooding is present, in order to prevent malnutrition.  

The team from Reading were shortlisted as one of the top five in the Bronze category after producing a video to describe their project, securing their place in the final round of judging to be held in London in December. They’ll be part of the select group of 20 student STEM projects that have made it to the concluding stages of the competition, in which thousands of students took part.

The judges in this final round include, Konnie Huq, TV presenter; Dr James Logan, TV presenter and academic from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera, Head of Nutrition at Action Against Hunger UK. 

This year’s theme is infectious diseases and thousands of students from across the UK participated, developing projects that tackled a whole host of challenges around topics such as mosquito-borne diseases, transporting medicines in the developing world, and sanitation.  

Prizes up for grabs in the Bronze category include a one-day field trip with Anturus to get experience as a field scientist and a visit to a research institute of their choosing.

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, which runs the Youth Grand Challenges, said: 

“I’d like to extend huge congratulations to all the finalists of the first ever Youth Grand Challenges Competition, and commiserations to those we had to say goodbye to at this stage. Each project is the result of hours of hard work, ingenuity and dedication, making the judges' decisions very difficult. We look forward to the grand finals event in London this December and wish all the teams the very best of luck.”

The grand final will take place in London on 7 December and will be hosted by TV presenter Rick Edwards. During the day, students will get the opportunity to network with industry professionals and talk about their career ambitions, as well as showing off their projects to the judges one last time. 

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Rowley, PR Officer,, +44 (0)20 7019 4953, +44 (0)7585 722 757

1. About the Youth Grand Challenges

The Youth Grand Challenges is an education initiative that aims to inspire young people, aged 11-to-19, to see how science and technology can be deployed to tackle global health issues. It calls on students to come up with innovative solutions that have the potential to change the world. All projects taking part will be entered into a national competition with prizes for the top projects worth up to £10,000. 

The Youth Grand Challenges is organised and run by the British Science Association and is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

2. About the British Science Association

The British Science Association (BSA) believes that science should be part of – rather than set apart from – society and culture, and is owned by the wider community. Our programmes encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with science, become ambassadors for science, and ultimately to be empowered to challenge and influence British science - whether they work in science or not.

Established in 1831, the BSA is a registered charity that organises major initiatives across the UK, including British Science Week, the annual British Science Festival, regional and local events, the CREST Awards and other programmes for young people in schools and colleges. The BSA also organises specific activities for professional science communicators, including a specialist conference and training. For more information, please visit

3. About the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann, under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

To listen to Miss Kohlman talking about this on BBC Radio Berkshire please click here