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BP ‘Ultimate STEM Challenge’ is launched for 11 to 14 year olds

Release date:
3 September 2014
Partnership with the Science Museum and STEMNET sees ultimate challenges rolled out into schools
  • UK-wide STEM school competition with ‘open to all’ format
  • 22,000 11-14 year olds to be engaged in the first year of the competition
  • 65% of all UK secondary schools expected to take part during inaugural year.
  • BP today announced the launch of a brand new competition - the Ultimate STEM Challenge - in partnership with  STEMNET and the  Science Museum.The competition is open to young people aged between 11 to 14 and will challenge them to put their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths skills to the test by tackling some real-world problems.


Aimed at younger secondary school students yet to make their GCSE choices, the Ultimate STEM Challenge builds on the success of the BP Ultimate Field Trip, which has engaged nearly 3,000 UK STEM university students in the past five years, and lays the foundations for younger students considering studying STEM subjects before making their GCSE subject choices.


The challenges for 2014, of which there are three in total, are all based around the theme of using STEM to help us explore, live and work in challenging environments. Working in groups of two to four, students can choose from three challenges:

  • Keeping Warm
  • Keeping Hydrated
  • Keeping Cool

The challenges to students have been developed to ensure they reflect the challenges BP faces as a business, from operating at the bottom of the ocean to the heat of the desert.


To enter, the teams will need to create a short film or presentation showcasing their project. Their teacher will need to submit these before the deadline of the 16th January 2015, using the online form on the BP Educational Services (BPES) website. Finalists will be invited to a celebratory final event on the 23rd March 2015 at the Science Museum in London to compete for prizes, including a cash prize of £500 to spend on science equipment or a field trip.


Teachers will be provided with teaching materials to help provide a ‘kick-off’ session to launch the competition with their STEM club or class. Inspiration and support will be available in the form of:

  • Case studies highlighting how STEM is used to meet the challenges that BP faces as a business operating in locations such as the bottom of the ocean and the heat of the desert
  • Social media link ups with BP scientists
  • Local STEM Ambassadors (subject to availability)

Ian Duffy, Community Development Manager for BP in the UK said: “At BP, we know first-hand how important STEM subjects are to the future of the UK’s competitiveness in the global economy. A key part of young people choosing STEM subjects is how strong a sense of self-identity and confidence they have in using those subjects. Many young people effectively make that decision in the very early years of secondary school, so positive early experiences can have a powerful effect. Together with our partners at the Science Museum and STEMNET, we have designed The Ultimate STEM Challenge in order to help young people see that they can be our engineers and scientists of the future, benefitting themselves, their families and their communities.”


Kirsten Bodley, Chief Executive at STEMNET, said: “STEMNET is delighted to be working with BP and the Science Museum on the Ultimate STEM Challenge to encourage young people to embrace Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through engagement with employers and STEM Ambassadors. We encourage young people to be enthusiastic about scientific concepts by challenging their creative minds and enabling them to build their employability skills through STEM. As a judge, I hope to see innovative ideas combined with scientific methods in the students’ demonstrations. Challenges like this are a great opportunity for young people to understand the everyday challenges that BP face in the workplace.”


“The Science Museum is delighted to be a partner in the ‘Ultimate STEM challenge’”, said Alex Burch, Director of Learning at the Science Museum. “Each year the Science Museum engages over 1 million children with science, engineering and mathematics, building their science capital and helping to inspire the next generation. We understand how important it is to build young people’s skills and confidence with these subjects and these challenges will provide opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to see themselves as scientists, engineers and mathematicians.”


For more details on the competition and how to apply, please follow the link www.bp.com/ultimatestemchallenge

Notes to Editors

About the Ultimate STEM Challenge:

Who can enter the Ultimate STEM Challenge?


The challenge is open to young people aged 11 to 14 who live in the UK. Young people must work in a team of two, three or four.


How to enter?


Students choose from one of three broad topics about challenging environments. To enter, they create a video or presentation showcasing their project. Their teacher submits their entry using the online form on the BP Educational Services website.


Who are STEM Ambassadors and how can they be involved?


Teachers can access support from thousands of volunteers with STEM backgrounds through the STEM Ambassadors Programme. STEMNET manages this national network of enthusiastic and inspiring role models, who can help educators to excite and encourage students in STEM.


All STEM Ambassadors have a STEM background, they are usually professionals and specialists in their field, providing teachers with a free, skilled resource, to support them in the classroom. Involving a STEM Ambassador in the competition, for example, to kick-off the challenge, or mentor the students is optional, but recommended as it will enhance the students' experience and learning. For more information see http://www.stemnet.org.uk/ambassadors/


Each STEM Ambassador is registered, trained and checked with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme in Scotland.


STEMNET’s local network can help determine how schools can most benefit from involvement with a STEM Ambassador and match schools or activities to the right volunteer for their requirements.


To find out how your school can engage with STEM Ambassadors get in touch with your local STEMNET Contract Holder: http://www.stemnet.org.uk/regions/ 


The judges are looking for compelling entries which follow a sound scientific method and are communicated clearly, with confidence and enthusiasm.


How many teams can be entered?


There is no limit on the number of teams that teachers can put forward from their school.


Can students enter more than one project?


To be fair to everyone, a student can only enter one project in one team. A student cannot work within two different teams.


About BP

BP is of one of the world's leading international oil and gas companies. We operate or market our products in around 80 countries, employ over 83,000 people and provide our customers with fuel for transportation energy for heating and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items.


Our interests and activities are covered in two business segments: Exploration and Production, and Refining and Marketing.


Exploration and Production’s activities include oil and natural gas exploration; field development and production; hydrocarbon transportation, storage and processing; and the marketing and trading of natural gas including liquefied natural gas (LNG). Refining and Marketing’s activities involve the supply and trading, refining, manufacturing, marketing and transportation of crude oil, petroleum and petrochemicals products. Our low carbon business is primarily in onshore wind farms and bio-fuels.


The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET)


STEMNET creates opportunities to inspire young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This enables young people to develop their creativity, problem-solving and employability skills, widens their choices and supports the UK’s future competitiveness. STEMNET helps encourage young people to be well informed about STEM, able to engage fully in debate, and make decisions about STEM related issues. www.stemnet.org.uk


About the Science Museum


As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk