Westgarth Primary students clean up with offshore wind challenge

The primary school's Year 5s were tasked with finding ways to prevent and remove seabird poo (aka guano) from offshore wind turbines, with innovative results.

How do you solve a problem like bird poo?

A total of 48 students across both Westgarth Primary's two Year 5 classes were tasked by RWE's Sofia with creating solutions to scare birds away from turbines to prevent the real-life offshore wind industry issue of dealing with seabird droppings.

Offshore wind farms can spend millions of pounds on cleaning up guano left by seabirds on the turbines and transition pieces, including ladders and railings, so the youngsters were given the project to come up with ways to deal with the issue. Split into teams of between four and six, they developed concepts and posters over a four-month period before presenting them in a grand finale event in May.

The project was kicked off in January with an introduction by Sofia's education consultant Rich Hurst, who also judged the students' work along with RWE's Grimsby Hub Operations & Maintenance Manager, Kerry Monument and Director Inspiron Learning CIC, Julie Harrison.

A wide range of ideas was proposed by the youngsters including:

  • Use of automated water cannons to scare off the birds and clean off guano simultaneously
  • Drones allowing remote viewing to see if seabirds were visiting, with an attached water spray to scare them away
  • Installation of a conveyor belt around the base of the turbine with moving 'robotic' dummies to scare off the birds
  • Using noisy sirens to scare off the birds

The judges were impressed by different aspects of each of the groups' work including their design skills with logos and vibrant poster graphics, and their verbal presentation skills.

Westgarth Primary Headteacher Lindsay Phelps said: "It was an incredible experience for the children to work with Sofia on this project. To give our Year 5s the chance to see how they can engage with future employers was a perfect way to ensure they have high aspirations as they grow older. I am very thankful to the wind farm for all of their wonderful support during this project."

To see more photos of the students hard at work and presenting their projects, you can visit the school's Facebook page.

The project was part of the Building our Futures initiative run by Redcar & Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency, in partnership with Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, funded by Dogger Bank Wind Farm.

Rich Hurst (left) and Kerry Monument listen to the team presentations.

Julie working with one of the teams

May 2023