Schoolchildren rise to Drax’s recycled robot challenge

The robots are made from recyclable materials that can be found around the house such as bottles, tin cans and cardboard and have been designed to carry out recycling tasks such as having magnetic hands to pick up metal, or built-in compartments to store paper.

Children with robots

Primary school pupils have built their own robots from recycled materials as part of an initiative developed by Drax Power Station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, to boost STEM education and skills.

The Visitor Centre Team at Drax Power Station has worked with colleagues at Doncaster College and University Centre to develop the STEM box project, an engaging activity for students to take part in relating to the subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

A group of students aged between seven and ten at Sunnyfields Primary School in Scawthorpe, have been provided with individual activity boxes containing a range of learning materials, games and resources they will need to build their robots, the focus of which is on recycling and forms part of their school curriculum.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, many pupils have struggled to engage with home-schooling and projects like the STEM box provide a valuable opportunity to transition back into the school routine and get students enthusiastic about learning again.

The robots are made from recyclable materials that can be found around the house such as bottles, tin cans and cardboard and have been designed to carry out recycling tasks such as having magnetic hands to pick up metal, or built-in compartments to store paper.

Students also received a video recorded by the visitor centre guides to provide them with instructions. Once covid restrictions are relaxed, they intend to deliver this introduction in person in schools, as well as providing a visit to the power station as part of the project to help students understand the important role that recycling plays there.

Drax Group’s Head of Sustainable Business, Alan Knight, said:

“By providing schools with these resources we hope to further students’ understanding of the importance of recycling and hopefully fire up their imaginations and inspire them to study STEM subjects by showing them the wide range of career options that are available.”

Liane Clark from Children’s University at Doncaster College said, “Children’s University (CU) are excited to share this fantastic project with our CU schools to create an enriching learning experience that will inspire our future working generation. Our partnership with Drax has enabled a unique learning opportunity, which we hope will encourage children to deepen their knowledge and have a positive impact on their future.”

Children at Sunnyfields Primary School are the first to take part in the project which the Drax Power Station Visitor Centre Team plan to roll out to other schools across the region after the summer holidays.

Teacher Chloe Hoogwerf said:

“The students had a great time taking part in the STEM box programme, learning about Drax, and building the recycling robots. Activities like these are so important as it really brings the subject to life and gets students enthusiastic about STEM, as well as encouraging them to start thinking about careers they might enjoy in the future.”

Drax has a long tradition of supporting education and helping to inspire the next generation of engineers by encouraging interest in STEM subjects. Earlier this year, Drax announced its Mobilising a Million ambition which aims to increase social mobility and provide levelling up opportunities for a million people by 2025.

As well as the STEM box project, during the Covid pandemic Drax launched a virtual work experience programme, renewed its partnership with Selby College with a £180,000 contribution to support skills and training, and provided over 1,200 laptops with free internet access to school pupils across the country to ensure that students don’t miss out on valuable learning during the lockdown.

Pic caption: Sunnyfields Primary School Teacher Chloe Hoogwerf with Key Stage 2 pupils Oliver, Lilly and Lilly-Mae


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About Drax

Drax Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and in 2019 announced a world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology.

Its 3,400 employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production and supply to third parties.

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of renewable electricity generation assets in England and Scotland. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Having converted Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. It is also where Drax is piloting the groundbreaking negative emissions technology BECCS within its CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage) Incubation Area.

Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan.

Pellet production and supply:

Drax owns and has interests in 17 pellet mills in the US South and Western Canada which have the capacity to manufacture 4.9 million tonnes of compressed wood pellets (biomass) a year. The pellets are produced using materials sourced from sustainably managed working forests and are supplied to third party customers in Europe and Asia for the generation of renewable power.

Drax’s pellet mills supply around 20% of the biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.


Through its two B2B energy supply brands, Haven Power and Opus Energy, Drax supplies energy to 250,000 businesses across Britain.

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