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19/10/2021

WATCH: The Story of Your Stuff competition to 'inspire the scientists of the future'

The EPA has launched The Story of Your Stuff, a competition aimed at secondary school students which seeks to empower young people to make environmentally conscious decisions about their everyday ‘stuff’ and activities.

Entrants are tasked with researching the life cycle of an everyday item or environmental impact of an activity, and creatively telling its story through a visual medium.

Now in its fifth year, the competition brings together curiosity, creativity and science, and aims to get young people thinking about sustainability, climate action and environmental protection, spread the word among their friends and family, and make lasting and impactful changes.

Entrants will be in with a chance to win €500 for themselves and €500 for their school. An additional Climate Topic Prize will be awarded to the entry that best addresses and incorporates specific climate considerations including carbon footprint or greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, to recognise a yearly increase in the number of Irish language entries received to the competition, a special prize for the best project delivered in Irish has been introduced.

Speaking at the launch of the competition, EPA programme manager Dr Jonathan Derham said: “The EPA’s recently published State of the Environment Report highlights that the overall quality of Ireland’s environment is not what it should be, and the outlook is not optimistic unless we accelerate the implementation of solutions across all sectors and society. How and what we consume can directly negatively impact our environment.  We need to understand these pressures and work to embrace more sustainable consumption behaviours. 

"The Story of Your Stuff offers young people almost limitless opportunities to explore how everyday decisions have far-reaching impacts on our environment. Moreover, against the backdrop of school closures due to Covid-19, The Story of Your Stuff is an ideal project to undertake from home and for students to work on remotely with their classmates. I would encourage all second-level students and teachers to enter this year’s competition.”

Astronaut ambassador

This year, the EPA has enlisted the support of aeronautical engineer, citizen scientist-astronaut candidate and award-winning STEM advocate Dr Norah Patten as the competition ambassador for The Story of Your Stuff. 

“As an advocate of participation in STEM, I’m encouraged by The Story of Your Stuff and am delighted to take up the role of ambassador for this year’s competition," Dr Patten said.

"Here, young people have the opportunity to bring their commitment to climate action and apply it to help influence environmentally-conscious decisions. I look forward to seeing how students immerse themselves in their chosen topic and go about presenting their findings in a creative and digestible way, with the aim of influencing behavioural change. I wish all entrants and their teachers the best of luck.”

For a third year, The Story of Your Stuff has partnered with UCD, which will host a finale event in April. 

Director of the Earth Institute at UCD, Professor Tasman Crowe, said: “UCD is delighted to once again support the EPA in delivering this initiative. The Story of Your Stuff has the potential to inspire the scientists of the future and is an important tool through which students develop the skills used by scientists and other researchers. Research has a huge role to play in protecting our planet and I hope students are inspired by the initiative to consider future studies in science and sustainability.”

Last year’s winners were Caoimhe Higgins and Katherine from St Andrews College, Booterstown, Dublin, who made a video on the story of soap. The inaugural Climate Topic Prize winner was Lana Mitchel from Coolmine Community School, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, who created a video on the story of paper.

Competition guidelines and tips are available at online. The deadline for entries is March 8. 

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