Week 14, July 31st 2020

On Friday, Ali was joined by Katherine Perkins and Sheenagh McEleavy from BT who gave the pupils brilliant personalised feedback on the buildings they’d created during the week as part of our TeenTech City of Tomorrow at Home programme.

We were so impressed by the range of innovative and thoughtful ideas and beautifully constructed buildings submitted by imaginative pupils from all over the UK. Katherine and Sheenagh were blown away by what the pupils had achieved in such a short time!

Our first building came from Mia and Aarya (aged 11 and 7) in Orpington Kent. They called their building Honeycomb House which they explained in their brilliant video presentation!

“Underground Bio Gas plant for heating and cooking. Also produces fertilisers for the plant garden on top. Geo-synchronous high orbit satellite to absorb energy from the sun and power the house. Hexagon glass structure in the middle (plastic cup with yellow pom pom) which will have one light source, but as it is part of all the rooms, the one bulb/tubelight will provide light for the entire house. Green roof to provide a cooling effect and more fresh air. We also saw on YouTube a person had created a bicycle washing machine in which one tyre is a drum you can add clothes to and powder and cycle to wash. It would be perfect for our house :)”  Mia and Aarya

Katherine really loved the sturdy structure and design they created with the honeycomb style and the fact that nature has been used to help with this – she declared she would love to live in this building!  Sheenagh agreed that this model had been really well put together, and loved that so much light could get through and be controlled automatically. She also loved the roof garden and said that Mia and Aarya’s power of the house and choosing natural resources was brilliant! Sheenagh also praised the decoration on the outside of the house and the overall environmentally friendly design. Taking note of their kinetic powering of the washing machine, Sheenagh wondered – from a parental point of view  – whether if the children knew they would have to cycle to work the washing machine they might be more careful not to get messy!

Our next building, called The Together Apartments was created by Julia and Liliana, aged 13 and 8 from Woodford Green in Essex.

They have special security cameras which also project messages into trees about racism to raise awareness. We have solar panels and a Tech centre where underprivileged people can go to access tech and the building is eco-friendly”  Julia and Liliana

Ali, Sheenagh and Katherine agreed there were some amazing ideas in this design. Katherine praised the good ideas which had been very well thought through! She loved the tech centre – especially at the moment where a big divide with learning at home had made it the more thoughtful by making the tech accessible for all. Both Katherine and Sheenagh agreed that the subliminal messaging displayed around outside into the trees about preventing racism was amazing! Sheenagh remarked on the great teamwork shown by Julia and Liliana, reflected in the brilliant innovative thinking displayed. She added that their idea to help society by making technology more accessible was really thoughtful. A big ‘well done’ also for their wonderful video presentation!

Ben and Beth, aged 12 and 9 from East Ilsley in Berkshire, created our next building, called Thanos High Security Building.

The building is special because: 
  – It has self-cleaning surfaces 
  – Self-healing concrete and bricks 
  – Auto-medicine maker attached to an illness detector 
  – It has a guard tower.  In the day, the tower is used by prisoners to view the outside world and at night it is used for security 
  – Woodland and solar panels to be energy efficient 
  – Electronic communications through cells 
  – Robot security androids that adapt to their surroundings and learn about prisoners so they can check changes in their daily routine in case they escape 
  – Education and wellbeing school on-site to make sure prisoners don’t re-offend
” Ben and Beth

Sheenagh was very excited about this building as it involved so much thinking and included lots of ideas around wellbeing, managing crime and so much more!   Ali agreed and said he particularly loved the idea of an onsite school/ learning centre as well as the great use of technology, for example, to help detect health issues. Katherine agreed that using AI (artificial intelligence) is a very impressive and clever way to check security and the movement and routine of people in the building. Incorporating tech facilities was a really thoughtful and useful idea too – equipping people for the outside world is really important, whilst developing cognitive skills at the same time!

​The  Sologram Dome building came next, designed and created by Harry, aged 8 from Inverness.

“The building has solograms, which are solid but turn into holograms when a sensor is activated. This allows people in and out of the building and gives access to different parts. All of the inside is made of a new material that is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It’s also spongy so that everything is nice and comfy – even the walls…..There will be virtual reality trainers. This will be able to be accessed from home and work too and to wearable smart devices” Harry

Ali loved the solograms in this building, providing a solution to a very topical issue around gyms which would benefit from having anti-bacterial surfaces. Everyone agreed that Harry had produced a great diagram, and this ability to mentally visualise an idea and communicate it is a very important skill! Katherine was wowed by the wonderful spongy walls idea, saying that she would definitely visit this gym! She agreed with Ali, saying that Harry’s excellent and inspired idea about reducing bacteria in gyms could be used in real life! Sheenagh also loved the sologram idea, and by mentally walking through the areas she could see that all the parts she would want from a gym were there plus more! The sologram doors blew Sheenagh away! The other aspect she wanted to highlight were the terrific virtual trainers, which all agreed were fantastic!​

Our next building was called  The House of Tomorrow, created by Ethan and Ayrton, both aged 13 from Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.

The design has solar panels on the roof and the side and uses the mountain it is on the side of provides insulation to the house –  it helps to solve the amount of energy a house is using, via solar panels and using the mountain’s insulation to require much less heating” Ethan and Ayrton 

Katherine really loved the idea of the building hugging the mountain.  She remembered a favourite ‘Grand Designs’ episode featured a  building with a similar concept being built into a hillside which proved to be a very successful idea. She believed The House of Tomorrow was a great idea because it is modern and takes advantage of what natural resources already exist rather than using other resources and space. Sheenagh agreed and added that this building would provide a great way of getting close to nature – something very important for all of us- and that it was really appealing and intriguing being so close to the mountain. In terms of engineering and construction, Sheenagh said that its simplicity of structure suggests it could be easily replicable and cost-effective. A great design concept all round!​

The Multi-Centre was created by  Poppy, aged 9, and Wendy (aged 5 – our youngest ever participant!) from Banbury in Oxfordshire.

It is a 5-floor building 
-paper recycling 
-tech library 
-homeless housing 
-VR room 
-roof garden 
It does lots of different things for different people in our town. It has a living wall on the front” 
Poppy and Wendy

All agreed that they had produced a brilliant model and great presentation! Sheenagh loved everything about this building- the structure, the escapism, the tech library – but also the willingness to share was a wonderful thought. She praised the girls’ teamwork and how well put together their building was.  Katherine added that considering and embracing the issue of homelessness was also thoughtful, enabling the community to give something back to help society. She also pointed out the open rooftop garden which would be so beneficial to many in so many ways and would certainly be a very important feature for her personally! She also found the fantastic idea of using AI very appealing!​

Abigail and Joshua (aged 13 and 9 from Burbage in Leicestershire) created our next building – The Hospital of the Future.

This looks at the problems we have recently faced with the pandemic by ensuring separation is built into the design and that the inside of the building is easily adaptable for changing patient numbers and needs. The addition of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies would enable future doctors to be trained in methods that did not always need close patient contact. It would also allow carers to trained to carry out treatments without having to go into the hospital. Moreover, people with mental health needs who struggle to attend could receive virtual consultations and access better care more quickly……..we have also looked at the need for more sustainable building practices and running costs. These are often the things that cause planning problems and delays in new buildings. Using Ferrock and Timbercrete would significantly reduce the global impact of building and if used more frequently in large scale building would reduce the cost of the project. These materials also have environmental benefits in their construction and use.” Abigail and Joshua

Ali praised this building for its great range of ideas for sustainability. Sheenagh shared her feelings for this building in connection with a member of her family who trains consultants and doctors, explaining that the idea of using VR (Virtual Reality) would allow her to train more doctors quicker – something that would have been so very useful across the world during the pandemic. Sheenagh also loved the flexibility of this building – how the spaces can be changed according to needs is a very clever idea. She praised Abigail and Joshua for thinking about mental health as well as physical health, feeling that the freshness of ideas and sustainability of resources was really insightful for their age!  Katherine explained that more than ever we need to recognise how we could turn things around – adding that this could be a real potential project! The use of materials such as Ferrock need to be used more and Katherine thought that looking at addressing the problems of waste and using recycled materials is a superb idea! She also applauded the great teamwork demonstrated by Abigail and Joshua through their project – well done!​

Michael, aged 14 from Altrincham, Cheshire, created our next building, Green Tower.

This building solves a global problem, which is climate change. This is a growing problem that could become unstoppable if we don’t act quickly, and this building does this by using entirely renewable energy sources to create electricity and heat. The wind turbines and solar panels generate electricity, the geothermal vents underground provide heat, and the plants on the roof of the building provide energy. It uses no fossil fuels or non-renewable energy that does damage to the environment. As well as this, the building is made of non-damaging materials such as recycled aluminium and fibreglass…….My building also solves another global and local problem, which is people who are disabled. These people find it difficult to go outside because they cannot operate things and/or walk properly.  This building solves the problem by using embedded AI technology to ensure everything is automated and disabled people don’t need to open doors, turn on lights, go upstairs, etc. manually” Michael

Sheenagh was thrilled by this building, saying that it shared her kind of building concept – she loved everything about it! For example, she said,  tackling the use of technology, forward-thinking about renewable materials, using plants, the fact it used AI to save energy on behalf of the residents was brilliant! Katherine agreed and felt that the building and ideas behind it were absolutely magnificent and very inspirational.  She particularly liked the position of the wind turbine and the spacious look of the structure, adding that the  AI would help allow the Green Tower residents to relax more.

​The next building was called the Cinehotel and was created by Victor, aged 10 from Altrincham, Cheshire.

“My building is made of timber and recycled aluminium. The building is special because it uses renewable energy  and it has a family and pets waiting room, an illness detector on the door, a panic room if a disaster occurs and a reporter device to report people being loud in the cinema” Victor

Katherine thought this idea was fantastic! She loved the pet idea never having thought about it before! She liked the detector also, used for taking temperatures, explaining that having that where people are together in a small space is a really useful idea. She also approved of the detector of people being noisy in cinemas. Ali agreed, saying that he has stopped going to the cinema because of noisy people! Sheenagh felt that the shape and structure of Victor’s building looked very good to replicate at low cost and that making it sustainable is always a good thing in her book. The notion of going for a walk with your dog, then choosing to see a film and put your pet in the centre really appealed to her as a great idea, as were Victor’s hotel rooms so you can sleep comfortably after the film and relax. Ali agreed, explaining that once he went for a sleepover in cinema which was very uncomfortable indeed!

Katherine and Sheenagh spent some further time answering questions which had been submitted by our participants. Topics included the potential growth in the use of biogas, which Sheenagh thought a terrific idea although expensive in terms of putting the infrastructure together for its supply, and how technology could affect life in the future. Katherine answered that roles in 10 years’ time will be quite different from today, so there will be advancements in the educay=tion market. It is expected that AI will also make a bigger difference in what we do in everyday life, eg driving, weekly shops, clothing purchases etc Working virtually from home more will benefit the environment through cutting traffic, and costs to companies.

On discussing the role of recycling in creating innovative materials, Katherine and Sheenagh agreed that whilst this is an essential move forward issues include the expense of production and research, testing and trialling. It would be important to test products with the end-user and maybe run experimental sessions with the employers of engineering companies.

Our industry experts closed the session by saying how much they had enjoyed being part of TeenTech City of Tomorrow and loved the buildings, urging everyone to keep being creative and using their imagination. “Remember you can change society, and make a difference to the way we live, so keep innovating!!”