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Wells Cathedral Senior School win inaugural BP Ultimate STEM Challenge competition at the Science Museum

Release date:
24 March 2015
Somerset young science enthusiasts win with novel idea on how to keep hydrated


BP, the international oil and gas company, today announced that four students from Wells Cathedral Senior School in Somerset have won the inaugural Ultimate STEM Challenge competition.

The nationwide schools competition, launched in September 2014 by BP, STEMNET and the Science Museum, challenged students aged 11-14 to test their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills by tackling some real-world energy problems.

The competition, an extension of BP’s existing Ultimate Field Trip for university students, was developed as a result of ground-breaking research conducted by King’s College London, the research partner in BP’s Enterprising Science programme.

The research showed that despite 70% of school children saying that they ‘learn interesting things in science’ and that ‘scientists make a difference in the world’, only around 15% ‘aspire to become a scientist’.

With the UK needing to produce twice the number of engineers with the right qualifications to fill nearly two million job openings expected by 2020, it is critical to increase the level of STEM participation from a young age.

Megan Taylor part of the winning team, spoke about what it was like to win the first Ultimate STEM Challenge. She said: “It’s been a really cool experience and we’ve learnt loads along the way.  I didn’t realise science could be so much fun and I now hope to study it for my GCSEs and A-levels. The day trip to the Science Museum and winning £500 was fantastic!  I hope our teachers are proud of us”.

Ian Duffy, Community Development Manager for BP in the UK said: “On behalf of BP, a big congratulations goes to Wells Cathedral Senior School, they have shown determination, resilience and creativity in their thinking – all of which are excellent skills to take into studying STEM subjects.

If we are to meet the demand for STEM talent in the UK, we need to get more children, from more diverse backgrounds, involved in science. We can’t have kids who love science dropping out at GCSE level because they underestimate themselves and think science is for the nerdy few.  This is exactly why BP runs initiatives such as the Ultimate STEM Challenge and invests around £1.75m every year in the UK in activities to encourage more young people to take up STEM subjects and careers”.

Tom O’Leary, Director of Learning at the Science Museum added: “Here at the Science Museum we bring science alive for millions of visitors every year and play an important role in inspiring young people to get excited about STEM subjects and careers. I hope that everyone who took part in this year’s Challenge feel inspired to continue exploring the infinite possibilities that science, technology, engineering and maths learning offers.”

This year’s challenges, of which there were three in total, were 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 could choose from three challenges. The three challenges were:

  • Warm
  • Hydrated
  • Cool

Wells Cathedral Senior School’s solution focused on how to keep hydrated in extreme environments.  The team developed a portable Solar Still Solution called S3.  The device uses solar energy to produce drinking water from salt or polluted water anywhere in the world.

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About the Ultimate STEM Challenge


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.

About 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.