HM Government of Gibraltar’s Department of Environment, Heritage and Climate Change in conjunction with the Department of Education and Advanced Leadership Foundation has recently hosted its first Environment Hackathon at the University of Gibraltar.

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Involving students of all ages and local schools, the hackathon challenged pupils to find a solution to the problem “How do we keep our beaches plastic free this summer?”

Launching the event at Camp Bay beach, local experts first spoke to students about the negative impacts of plastics on beaches and marine life, to better understand how this issue affects Gibraltar as well as their everyday lives. After collecting a series of images and materials from the beach, students then travelled up to the University where they began a two hour ‘sprint’ to create what they believed to be the best solution for this problem in Gibraltar.

Split into seven groups of ages ranging from 8-19, teams worked together to produce a 5 minute pitch of their idea to present to selected judges. Ideas developed at the event included: Plastic Police, a promotional campaign to raise awareness, moving recycling containers closer to the beach, making containers more visible, adding fresh water fountains to the beaches, and more. Of the ideas submitted, two definitive winners were selected based on creativeness and the ability to engage community involvement: one being a reusable t-shirt bag to replace single use plastic bags, and the other a promotional campaign called “What’s Your Footprint?”

Echoing the message, “Clean seas, our future” from the NatWest International Island Games XVIII, the ideas from the Hackathon will be presented at the event hosted in Gibraltar July 2019.

Maximising student engagement and promoting critical learning skills – teamwork; communication and creation; critical thinking; real-world engagement – the Hackathon highlighted all the hard work being carried out in schools, and showcased the integral part environment plays in this. Following its success, HMGOG hopes to host another Environment Hackathon in the next school year.