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Workshop explores the challenges of recycling in today’s ‘throw-away’ society

Students from Leicester took a day out of their normal lessons last week to work with University academics in a day of workshops designed to consider the environmental and social challenges of electronic products in today’s ‘throw-away’ society.

A group of 30 key stage three students - all girls - from the Madani School, Evington, Leicester took part in the event. 

Throughout the day the students and academics worked together in a range of innovative workshops focused on e-waste reduction and mobile phones. Sessions included designing mobile phone skins, investigating economically recyclable components for mobile phones and discussing the value of discarded mobile phone items. The students were also challenged to consider how people might be encouraged to keep hold of devices via the use of new materials which age, in much the same way as leather.

The day was part of a series of outreach events designed to engage interest, especially of girls, in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. It was delivered by the CLEVER team, a group of academics from Loughborough University and the Universities of Bath, Newcastle, Surrey, Oxford and Cardiff whose research activity is focused on what to do with electronic waste as smart phones and tablets become ever more popular. The work of the CLEVER team has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The CLEVER team were supported in delivering the workshop by the Creative Outreach for Research Efficiency (CORE) team. The team helps academics ‘get out of the lab’ and communicate their work to a range of audiences. Funding for the outreach work is also being supported by Leicestershire Education Business Partnership. The aim is to develop a series of workshops and resources.

Dr Debra Lilley from Loughborough University said: “The day was fantastic and it was great to involve the students in the challenge of designing more sustainable products and services. We hope that these projects will ignite the interest of young people in studying STEM subjects in the future.” 

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