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A stretchy mobile phone case, which charges as it protects, has won the sought-after 2015 Begbroke Science Park Innovation Showcase Award. It was designed by Year 10 pupils from Gosford Hill School, Kidlington.

Begbroke Science Park welcomed 46 Year 9 and 10 pupils from schools in Oxfordshire to try their hand at turning cutting edge science into commercial business ideas. The six teams took recent scientific discoveries and developed them into new commercial products, presenting their designs and business plans ‘Dragons Den style’ in competition for the coveted Innovation Showcase Award.

The winning team’s idea took stretchy, transparent conductive material and developed it into a ‘one-size-fits-all’ shield that charges your device whilst protecting it. The super-stretchy shield flexes in all directions. The material uses a sheet of rubber sandwiched between two membranes of gel that are swollen with salt water to conduct electricity. The team caught the judge’s attention with their innovative thinking, well thought out strategy and clear routes to market.  

The Innovation Showcase, now in its fifth year, was hard-fought, with the other teams also developing great ideas including super flexible casts and bandages made from artificially produced spider-silk and plastic shopping bags that glow red when they are about to break, protecting your valuable shopping.

The pupils also got the chance to see two of Begbroke Science Park’s leading research laboratories and see first-hand how studying science can lead to many exciting careers.

Graham Hillsdon showed how the University of Oxford’s Impact Laboratory is working to make aircraft safer, whilst in the Advanced Processing Laboratory pupils were shown various machines that help scientists scale up research to prove their theories at an industrial scale, led by Robin Vincent from the Processing of Advanced Materials research group.

Martin Culkeen, Head of Science at Gosford Hill School, Kidlington commented, "The pupils have had a fantastic visit. It's mind-boggling to try and understand the enormous investment of time and money into developing products and technologies before we see them".

Judging this year’s Innovation Showcase Caroline Livingstone, Manager of Begbroke Science Park said, “I always enjoy this event particularly seeing the pupils involved in the kind of activities that form the heart of BSP. It was really hard to pick a winner this year with all the teams creating great business ideas".

The event forms part of the Begbroke Science Park school event series. Future events include the Practical Nanoscience Workshop for schools for Key Stages 3 and 4 students on 10 June 2015, and a Practical Nanoscience Workshop for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5, and BTEC science teachers on 15 July 2015. For more information or to book a place email events@begbroke.ox.ac.uk