The scheme, which is scheduled to reopen to applications in July (updates will appear HERE), received over 60 applications in February with a wonderfully eclectic range of ideas.
The ideas ranged wildly from virtual theatre to walking sticks, from clothing to online environmental games, from mental health to sound energy, from cross cultural music to drink-driving education, and on and on. Sadly, the Prospectory’s grant budget is very small, which meant some very difficult decisions had to be made about which projects to support.
The following 3 awards were made from the February 2021 round:
1. Birdsong Live from Cornish woodland
Nichola Andersen and Swenson Kearey live adjacent to SSSI woodland in Cornwall. The area is home to a large variety of birds including owls, buzzards, woodpeckers; blue, coal, great and long tailed tits; nuthatches and finches and many species from the RSPB Red List. They have been getting out of bed and recording the dawn chorus since the Winter’s Solstice.
As dawn gets earlier and earlier, they wanted to find a way to automate the process. Their idea is to develop and install an automated recording and live streaming system using a Raspberry Pi platform in 4 different Cornwall locations. They will start by building and testing everything (including weather proofing!) in their home location followed by the other 3 sites. Obviously, recording birds isn’t a novel idea but a daily record of birdsong recorded continuously over years from several places across a region, published on-line for others to use is novel and requires automation.
Nichola and Swenson’s aim is for their automated recording and streaming system to help people connect with and enjoy the sounds of nature in Cornwall via audio wherever they live. Research is showing that this can be just as effective as actually being outside and birdsong or the sounds of nature can increase happiness and well-being by up to 30%.
But quality data of this kind collected in selected locations over long periods of time is also of interest to academic, wildlife and ecology researchers so the plan is for this to serve as a Citizen Science project.
2.Timerz system for sprint cyclists
Founded by Hannah Escott, an international racing cyclist, the Open Trail charity uses cycling to help disadvantaged and disaffected young people in Kidderminster. Cycling helps develop their self-confidence, resilience and hope for the future. Open Trail has had great success in getting local young people to attend school regularly and to continue with education after their final exams.
Open Trail’s idea is Timerz – the first timing system to be a portable, use at home system for testing sprint time over space. It won’t require setting up timing strips, beams and equipment. Their plan is an easy set-up, low cost option for grass roots racers and athletes looking for high performance on a budget. They have been working on the first prototype.
One of their group, a 15 year old with an enthusiasm and proven talent for electronics and programming, has started working on building a prototype Timerz system. The ‘I’ve Got An Idea’ Fund award will enable him to acquire all the parts he needs to get Timerz to a working stage where the other youngsters can enjoy testing and hopefully refining it into an Open Trail product.
3. Air quality sensor pin badge – Perfect Sense AQ
Ava Garnside, aged 14, from Leeds, is interested in the environment and how her contemporaries can work together to help preserve the planet. In her own words, she wishes to “accelerate our understanding about the action needed to achieve climate ambition and grasp how pollution affects us every day. I believe that science and technology hold the key to achieving ambitious climate goals, helping us to stay healthy and preserving the planet for future generations.“
For Ava it started with a concern about the air pollution on her daily walk to school so she built a device that could attach to her bag or blazer with sensors to collect pollution data. She wants to help more people turn their own environmental data into information for health reasons, instead of being reliant on information shared by the government or other central organisations. Ava has already won several notable awards for her first version of ‘Perfect Sense AQ’ . Since then, Ava has set up her own social enterprise with the ambition to give everyone an equal chance to become empowered and make health and climate-positive decisions based on analysing their own data.
The ‘I’ve Got An Idea Fund’ award will enable Ava to build 6 more ‘Perfect Sense AQ’ sensor devices and work on the challenges of data collection, transmission and presenting the data back to the pin badge wearer in a meaningful way. Each device has sensors to measure particulate matter 2.5 and particulate matter 10, an electronics board, a case and a power supply. She aims for the pin badge to be the smallest, wearable, air quality data collection device on the market as well as cool and fashionable to wear.
She hopes the follow-up user case studies will get more people talking about the difference that ‘Perfect Sense AQ’ makes to their lives – peers walking to school, people with asthma or runners and cyclists in her city of Leeds.
For more information about the ‘I’ve Got An Idea’ Micro-Fund and future funding rounds, please visit the Prospectory’s website.