THE next generation of scientists have started their careers with a Big Bang after earning prizes at a prestigious national competition.

A trio of Year 10 students at Teesside High School were congratulated by British astronaut Major Tim Peake on their project exploring how algae can be transformed into biofuel.

Gabriella Bell, Hannah Foster and Jenni Lee-Orlopp were awarded two prizes at the Big Bang National Final hosted in Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.

The science-minded students received the Future Water Association’s Water Dragons Winners Award for their creative thinking on the project.

The group were also highly commended in the Protecting the Environment Special Prize category.

Katie Ward, head of Physics at Teesside High School, said: “Everyone at Teesside High School is incredibly proud of Gabby, Hannah and Jenni.

“The girls’ knowledge and application of Science shone through at both Big Bang Fair events and I am thrilled that their talent and hard work has been recognised with two national awards.

“We now have the opportunity to enter a further competition with the Future Water Association which could culminate in a visit to Stockholm to showcase the project on the continent.

“I cannot wait to see where this will take Gabby, Hannah and Jenni in the future.”

Miss Bell, Miss Foster and Miss Lee-Orlopp earned their place on the national stage after being crowned overall winners of the Application of Science Award at the Big Bang Fair’s regional contest held in Teesside University in June 2016.

Last week’s awards in Birmingham have inspired the students to continue working towards developing their project further.

Fourteen-year-old Miss Foster, from Saltburn, said: “The Big Bang Fair National Final was an incredible experience which brought together a huge science community.

“We learnt so much and came back buzzing with ideas of how we could expand our project further.

“We came under intense questioning from the judges but it was all worth it. We are really happy to come back to school with our awards.”