Northampton pupils saving the planet and learning how to code in 'exciting' new project

Saving the planet, reducing energy bills and coding are being brought together in an innovative project at a handful of schools across the country, including one in Northampton.

Students at Caroline Chisholm School will be using microchips to perfect the temperature in classrooms and turn off equipment remotely once they return from the summer holidays.

Caroline Chisholm School students busy working on the Internet of Things project. Photo: Kay Sawbridge

Caroline Chisholm School students busy working on the Internet of Things project. Photo: Kay Sawbridge

The year seven and eight pupils got started before breaking up, with an assembly about the project from Lancaster University inspiring the pupils to think of lots of ways to save energy through coding.

Computing and IT teacher Kay Sawbridge runs the coding club which will be running the scheme, called The Energy Champions, and said the students have been excited by its potential.

"I think it's a great project and it's good for the students to be involved, it's a fun, hands-on way of teaching students how to code, which is perfect for me," she said.

"Anything that makes them enthusiastic about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and 'green' is brilliant."

Caroline Chisholm School students busy working on the Internet of Things project. Photo: Kay Sawbridge

Caroline Chisholm School students busy working on the Internet of Things project. Photo: Kay Sawbridge

Caroline Chisholm is one of 23 schools in the country to be part of the Energy in Schools Internet of Things Project with Samsung.

Students are tasked with programming a micro:bit to monitor temperature or measure energy usage.

That data is used by a smart plug to turn on a fan if the room is at a certain temperature, close a door or turn off a projector if has been left on with no one in the room.

Pupils can then use analyse the data long-term to see how much energy they have saved, which is compared to the other schools involved in the project with an efficiency leaderboard.

Caroline Chisholm School students busy working on the Internet of Things project. Photo: Kay Sawbridge

Caroline Chisholm School students busy working on the Internet of Things project. Photo: Kay Sawbridge

At the moment just one block is being monitored by the club, as well as the head teacher's office, but Kay hopes to expand it to the rest of the school eventually.

Kay said they are still in the early stages of the project but when the students are back in September, they will be coming up with more ideas to save energy, as well as branding and marketing.

"The children are already doing that themselves and taking ownership of the project," she said.

"The Internet of Things is such a huge thing as they're not just learning about coding and saving energy but it's doing good for the school too, and they're spreading that message to other schools and their parents.

Caroline Chisholm School students busy working on the Internet of Things project. Photo: Kay Sawbridge

Caroline Chisholm School students busy working on the Internet of Things project. Photo: Kay Sawbridge

"For the school, it's lovely to have a STEM project with lots of girls involved which is particularly important for me."

Being involved in such a ground-breaking project is something the Wooldale Road school is very proud of, Kay said, especially after a devastating flood in May last year.

The whole ground floor was ruined, wiping out 39 of the classrooms, with the last one back in use last month.

But Kay said the camaraderie staff and pupils have shown has been exemplary.

"The kids kept very positive and they have been really on board, having to be so badly compromised on where they were taught," she said.

"We're a forward-thinking school and game for anything and our students have shown their resilience."

Caroline Chisholm School

Caroline Chisholm School

To find out more about the project, visit energyinschools.co.uk.