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Begbroke Science Park > News and Press > Boys from St Birinus School in Didcot, Oxfordshire win Begbroke Science Park’s Innovation Showcase Award 2020
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Boys from St Birinus School in Didcot, Oxfordshire win Begbroke Science Park’s Innovation Showcase Award 2020

A team of aspiring entrepreneurs from St Birinus School in Didcot pitched their innovative coating for aeroplanes, which could generate electricity from moisture in the air, to the judges at Begbroke Science Park, winning the 2020 Innovation Showcase Award. 

Begbroke Science Park, welcomed Year 9 and 10 pupils from schools across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to their annual Innovation Showcase event, asking them to try their hands at turning cutting edge science into commercial business ideas. The five teams took recent scientific discoveries and developed them into new commercial products, presenting their designs and business plans ‘Dragons Den style’ in competition for the sought-after Innovation Showcase Winners title.

The winning team’s innovative graphene-based coating for aeroplanes generates electricity from moisture in the air, allowing to make air travel more sustainable by reducing the consumption of traditional fuel. The idea is based on recent research published by scientists at Tsinghua University and the Beijing Institute of Technology in China. The team caught the judges’ attention with their excellent presentation, well thought-out strategy, innovative thinking and clear explanation of the technology.  

The Innovation Showcase, which has been running for more than ten years, requires great team effort under pressure, and the fantastic ideas the pupils come up with deserve recognition. Amongst the other ideas were a novel ‘cooling coating’ for paths and walkways in holiday resorts in hot climates, novel bedding made from a heat-regulating fabric that senses the temperature and moisture in the bed and adjusts accordingly to guarantee a comfortable sleep, a new cat flap which is opened and closed by a novel light-sensitive adhesive, and an ‘intelligent’ hydrogel-based ‘fishing net’ that captures plastic waste from rivers and oceans but doesn’t block the movement of the fish. 

The pupils also had the opportunity to visit two of Begbroke Science Park’s leading research laboratories and see first-hand how studying science can lead to many exciting careers. In the University of Oxford’s Impact Laboratory, Graham Hillsdon illustrated how engineers here are working to make aeroplanes, train journeys and cycle helmets safer, whilst in the Advanced Processing Materials Laboratory, Dr Enzo Liotti showed the pupils various machines that help scientists scale up research to prove their theories at an industrial scale.

The event forms part of the BSP’s School Event Series. Future events include the Practical Nanoscience Workshop for schools for KS3/4 students on 10 June 2020 and a Practical Nanoscience Workshop for science teachers on 1 July 2020. For more information or to book a place email


Joanna Grant