The competition is run by Nesta and the government for the best ideas from young people in helping vulnerable people and tackling climate change.
A robot turtle that cleans up beaches and a ‘dementia prevention phone’ are among a raft of ideas from school children competing for a £25,000 tech prize.
The Nesta Challenges awards scheme is also backed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and based around four themes: helping the elderly to stay independent and active; health; transport links; and green issues such as combating pollution.
Nesta has announced that 60 teams of school children have been named as semi-finalists.
In addition,10 new wildcard places have been created to allow more schools and youth groups to take part. The deadline for applications is 6pm in 14 February.
The robot turtle idea stems from young people’s concern about plastic pollution, while the dementia phone uses family members’ voices to hep someone stay mentally active.
Other ideas include an app that detects online bullying, an AI therapy dog to help autistic children in social situations and a congestion reducing device for trafficlights.
A ‘wastebot’ toilet that tracks the bodies’ vital signs is also among young people’s ideas.
“The ingenuity and inventiveness of the young teams who have already entered the Longitude Explorer Prize has been astounding,” said Nesta Challenges Head of International Development and Communities Constance Agyeman.
“From tech-enabled toilets to track your vital signs to robot turtles that seek out and pick litter from the beach, the semi-finalists announced today demonstrate the capability and genius that is brimming over in our nation’s young people.
“It’s this wealth of creativity and innovative thinking that has inspired us to re-open entries and increase the number of places available in the final. We want to give even more young people, who have a passion for harnessing technology to make the world a better place, a chance to win £25,000 for their school or youth group.”
Science Minister Chris Skidmore added: “From a robot that cleans up our beaches and AI therapy dogs to help autistic children navigate social situations, this competition is helping knock down barriers while teaching our future generation that anything is possible.”
The competition winner will be announced in July.