BEING caring as well as clever was a winning combination for Bury schoolgirl Lauren Cohen.

The Year 8 Derby High School pupil received an Innovation award at the regional Business of Science Conference.

“I was thinking a lot about plastic pollution and loneliness so I had the idea of building a kiosk in the school garden where people could bring their empty plastic containers and turn them into something useful.

“At the same time, it could encourage them to make new friends and socialise.”

Lauren was up against people of all ages from across the north west for the newly-introduced award which celebrates ‘science dreams’.

“I was the youngest there and all the others had prototypes to demonstrate but I just had my poster,” said Lauren, who lives in Bury and Bolton Road.

She spent her Easter holidays working on her idea which netted her £1,000. She will use the prize money to buy the kiosk for the school.

Lauren’s headteacher, Helen Hubert, said: “Lauren has seized the initiative to harness the power of student leadership. She has demonstrated immense creativity in her project design. By her actions she is acting as a superb ambassador for the school and also for young people who care so passionately about recycling and protecting our environment.”

She added: “The judges were so impressed with Lauren’s idea that they are joining us at our 60th Birthday Garden Party celebrations on July 11to see the finished product in our STEAM Garden.

At the ceremony, Lauren explained a number of innovative ways in which plastic containers can be put to good use – from a pencil pot to providing heat and light by wrapping corrugated aluminium around plastic bottles filled with water.

Her mum, Lynn, said: “I’m incredibly proud of her, not only for winning but for managing to find the time to actually work on it.”

Lauren, who plays football for Bury Girls, said if she doesn’t become a professional soccer player she would like to be an entrepreneur.