Alton Convent pupils win BBC Radio One Teen Award

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Alton Convent School best friends, Lauren Shea 16, and Lucy Rawlings 17 (left of photo) picked up the inaugural BBC Radio One “Make it Digital” Teen Hero Award at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. This prestigious new award is specifically for extraordinary young people who are leading the way in the field of digital technology.

The girls received their award in recognition of their outstanding work as TeenTech Ambassadors. Lauren and Lucy were members of the team which won the TeenTech People’s Choice award in 2015, when they were both in Year 10 attending Alton Convent School. This accolade was for the ‘’M- Shuttle” – an innovative concept to get lifesaving medical supplies to soldiers on a battlefield. An awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace followed. Upon returning to Alton Convent School Lauren and Lucy were keen to inspire others just as they had been inspired and embarked on an ambitious outreach programme beginning with local primary schools.

Lucy, who now attends Peter Symonds College in Winchester, takes up the story, “After having won the people’s Choice award at the TeenTech competition we made vital contacts, and through our own eagerness, we kept up these links. We started delivering talks at local schools even speaking at the ARM forum last year.”  Maggie Philbin CEO and founder of TeenTech, suggested they open a major conference at The Science Museum to highlight what they felt needed to change within education to offer more opportunities for young people to develop an understanding of their own potential through project based learning.

Their work didn’t stop there. Lucy went on an exchange visit to Colombia and spontaneously decided to run a TeenTech Innovation session with the girls. Despite only having chalk and board to work with the idea of developing their own ideas to make life ‘better, simpler or easier’ captured their imagination. Two schools in Colombia subsequently asked to join the TeenTech City of Tomorrow project.

Meanwhile Lauren, who attends Alton Convent Sixth Form, recently hosted a Space Workshop for primary school children during international space week. Lauren developed the lesson plans during her work experience at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory earlier this year, which she subsequently translated into Spanish. Lauren has also produced a supporting video in both languages. Her work has been selected as an example of Best Practice for a pan-European project which encourages students to inspire their peers or even younger children. Lauren will be following this with a video conference with two schools in Spain. Her exemplary work will be shared with schools in Hungary, Finland and the UK.

When the nomination opened for the Radio One BBC Make it Digital Teen Hero Awards, Maggie Philbin nominated Lauren and Lucy. In her words she said, “A hero is someone who makes a difference … perhaps changing the direction of young people’s lives.” The girls have certainly set out to do that, even changing their own misconception of scientists – goggles, test tube, lab coat crazy hair and male dominated!

Lauren and Lucy were the first Teen Heroes to be presented with their award by DJ Radio One presenter Greg James on Sunday afternoon. They were overcome when their favourite band DNCE joined them and were practically tongue tied when Greg further announced that they were invited to join the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show with special guest Benedict Cumberbatch!

Summing up the experience, Lauren and Lucy said, “The past few days have been surreal. The amount of support from BBC Radio One has been incredible, the recognition and enthusiasm we’ve received from everyone – including some of our favourite celebrities is overwhelming. Going on stage was phenomenal and the crowd’s reaction was insane – as we left the arena we were even asked for a picture! Despite all of this our aim of inspiring others has not changed; winning this award is only the beginning.”

They went on to add, “We would like to thank Maggie Philbin and everyone we met through TeenTech for inspiring us in the first instance and for the incredible opportunities that followed.”