The 2017 Uncover Copper Competition attracted over 600 entries from 67 schools across the UK. The winning entries are showcased below.
Copper surrounds us. It’s in our phones and tablets, the walls of our houses, our hospitals and even inside our bodies, but we rarely notice it. This competition called on UK students to uncover copper, seeking it out in buildings, health and medicine, and new applications in renewable energy and sustainable transport systems.
Participants chose one of the three categories and designed a poster that answered the questions, exploring the red metal’s applications and the chemical, physical and mechanical properties behind its use.
- Building Services: Where is copper used in our homes and schools? Think wiring and home automation, plumbing and sprinkler systems. Which properties of copper make it uniquely suited to these applications?
- Health and Medicine: How is copper used in our bodies and in healthcare? Think dietary needs, hygienic touch surfaces and MRI machines. Why is copper essential for our health?
- Renewable Energy and Transport: What contribution is copper making to a greener future? Think wind turbines, photovoltaics, solar thermal, wave and tidal. Think electric vehicles. What properties of copper make it beneficial in these applications?
Winning Posters: 11–14
Building Services: First Place
St Edmund's School
The judges awarded this poster First Place thanks to its detailed explanation of the chemistry of how copper’s surface changes naturally when used in external locations—for buildings and sculptures—thanks to chemical reactions with the atmosphere, and how these changes can be accelerated by the application of chemical solutions to achieve different colours. It is attractive, easy to read and informative.
Building Services: Second Place
Eaton Bank Academy
The judges chose this poster for Second Place due to its energetic and appealing presentation of information on copper’s significance as pipework, its contribution to automation in buildings and its use in roofing applications and heating systems. It contains good, well-presented science.
Building Services: Highly Commended
St Edmund's School
This poster was Highly Commended as the judges were impressed by the careful and creative presentation and good selection of copper’s use in different areas of homes and schools. The heading in particular is superbly executed to draw a viewer into reading the details below.
Health and Medicine: First Place
St Paul's Girls' School
This poster was awarded First Place thanks to the in-depth science explaining copper’s essentiality and use across different fields of health and medicine, most interestingly in MRI machines. It further introduced applications beyond those suggested in the competition guidelines, exploring applications such as copper’s use in IUDs. It was elegantly presented and fun to read.
Health and Medicine: Second Place
This poster was chosen for Second Place thanks to its clear and striking illustration of copper’s myriad uses in health and medicine. The well thought-out presentation excellently complemented some very good science, in particular its elucidation of how copper kills bacteria.
Health and Medicine: Highly Commended
St Edmund's School
The judges awarded this poster Highly Commended thanks to its eye-catching and original design, and content that effectively covers the brief. The inclusion of some humorous elements also makes it a pleasure to read.
Renewable Energy and Transport: First Place
Cambridge Home School
This poster's appealing, comic book-style presentation frames a thought-provoking story imagining what life will be like if our existing dependence on carbon-based technologies is not replaced with renewable alternatives, in which copper plays key roles. The work goes beyond classroom science to consider impacts on future society. It is fun to read, and an all-round impressive exploration of the topic.
Renewable Energy and Transport: Second Place
Chesham Grammar School
This poster was chosen for Second Place thanks to its clear and concise presentation of copper’s multifaceted uses in renewable energy and transport. It contains excellent scientific information and expresses it in an engaging style.
Renewable Energy and Transport: Highly Commended
Daniel Cassidy and Theo Back
This poster was awarded Highly Commended due to its well-presented information, covering the applications of copper in renewable energy and transport, and the science behind these applications. The judges enjoyed the headings made from ‘etched’ copper, which lent it a particularly pleasing appearance.