Innovation Challenge Competition

Recently, Year 12 students participated in the Geography Innovation Challenge with Reading School. It was a close competition, but our two teams came out at the top, being awarded 1st and 2nd place.  The task was to find an innovative solution to the prevalent microplastic problem in our oceans.

The competition was between four groups of Year 12 students from Reading School and Kendrick School. Each team created and did a fifteen-minute presentation, that included research into microplastic sources and challenges, our chosen solution, and considerations of scalability and funding for the solution. This was followed by fifteen minutes of answering challenging questions.


We read studies and research papers addressing the microplastic emissions by ships, with most claiming that greywater released into the oceans is the primary source, releasing approximately 100,000 tonnes of microplastics/year. After further research, we realised this was because the filtration systems are unable to capture microplastics due to their miniscule size.


When considering potential solutions, we discovered several academic studies about harnessing the adhesive capabilities of jellyfish mucus, allowing them to capture and aggregate microplastics together. We used their findings to inspire our own idea - fitting jellyfish mucus pellets into the filtering nets on ships to capture the microplastics before they are released. To finalise our idea we had to consider environmental consequences, funding sources, stakeholders, the project’s scalability, limitations and its potential mitigation strategies.

This was an incredible learning opportunity for all of us. Researching an innovative solution, designing an implementation plan and presenting in front of new people definitely pushed us out of our comfort zone. Coming up with answers to challenging questions on the spot was also a new experience. Overall, this was an incredible challenge. 

By Bhoomija, Nell, Isabel and Dora