Gifted and talented students from five Pendle secondary schools have investigated renewable energy in an NCC programme created to help them progress to top universities.

Star Year 9 students from Colne Primet Academy, Marsden Heights Community College, Pendle Vale College, Fishermore RC High School, and Park High School were put to the test in the Boat Race Challenge when they explored sustainable green energy production for the UK.

For the challenge, students were asked to concentrate on the supply and storage of the energy solution, while being mindful of technology, marketing and budget.

They then presented their solutions in the form of a 10-minute Dragons’ Den style presentation to a judging panel, which included former NCC star and current University of Oxford student Lotte Gleeson and Curriculum Leader for Engineering at NCC Mark Rosenthal. Park High School’s River Severn barrage scheme wowed the judges to come out on top as the winner.

Heather Lowe, PE Teacher and School Sports Coordinator, at Park High School, said: “I think the programme is a great way of challenging our high ability pupils and providing them with a range of opportunities outside of the classroom. It allows them to realise their true potential and inspires them to aim high in all aspects of life.”

Joseph Renshaw, Year 9 student at Park High School, said: “The programme is really good. It helps us to be challenged outside of school and it’s a good way to improve our future. I hope it helps me to get into a top University.”

The Boat Race Challenge is a unique three year training programme, designed by Nelson and Colne College to stretch the abilities of Pendle’s young learners with the aim of preparing them for College life and reaching Oxbridge and Russell Group universities.

Mark Rosenthal said: “I was very impressed with the quality of the presentations. Picking the winner was a very difficult decision as all of the schools presented interesting and innovative ideas.

“This activity tasked the students with looking at renewable energy which is incredibly important now and will be increasingly so in the future. Not only were the students exploring the supply and storage of this energy and the Science and technology behind it, they also had to take into account budgeting constraints and consider how it would be marketed.

“We have some extremely gifted and talented young people in Pendle, and the Boat Race Challenge Programme is a fantastic way of challenging and testing their abilities.”

Lotte, who is reading Physics at the University of Oxford, said: “This competition is brilliant and I really think it is what Pendle needs – schools coming together to support and encourage young people to go into Science, inspire them to think big and highlight what is achievable.”

Lotte left College in 2016 with three A* grades and an A in Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics – becoming the first in her family to go to University.

She added: “It was great to be able to come back to NCC to judge the competition and lead a Physics workshop. I loved College and I developed as a person during my time at NCC. There is no way I would have got into Oxford without the teaching and support at NCC. I owe a lot to my tutors. University is tough, and there is a lot of work to do, but I’m really enjoying it.”

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