The Ultimate STEM Challenge

Do you know a budding young scientist? What about an enthusiastic engineer? Each year BP, the Science Museum Group and STEM Learning launch a nationwide competition to boost STEM engagement across schools

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Ultimate STEM challenge winners 2018

BP’s Ultimate STEM Challenge has been designed to help young people develop their creativity, problem-solving skills and employability by tackling real-world challenges. Teams of two to four students aged 11 to 14, from across the UK, can enter the competition and win some fantastic prizes, including an invitation to a celebratory event at the Science Museum, an Ultimate STEM experience day, £500 for their school and Science Museum goodies.

We live in a world of rapid change where developments in technology can transform societies, economies and industries. History tells us that companies that do not anticipate or adapt to new technologies struggle to survive. On the other hand, companies with leading technologies are often the most competitive and successful. Encouraging the engineers and scientists of the future is crucial for the continued success of many of the UK’s key industries.

More than 500 students took part in this year’s competition which challenged them to create a more sustainable future by helping to reduce our impact on the environment. To enter the competition they had to develop a solution to one of three real-world challenges designed to tackle themes of reducing the use of natural resources and bringing down greenhouse gas emissions.

  1. Handy Hydro: Create an efficient design for generating electricity from moving water.
  2. Parched Plants: Grow indoor plants using a sustainable method that conserves water.
  3. Brilliant Biogas: Build a system that generates biomethane from food waste.

By exploring the practical uses of science, the challenges are designed to inspire young people to consider careers in STEM.

The challenges could be completed at a STEM club, in class or as an independent project. With creativity and innovation at the heart of the challenges even those students who may not naturally gravitate towards science will be inspired. Teachers also have the opportunity to request support from a STEM Ambassador. Teams entering the Ultimate STEM Challenge were able to accredit their work using CREST awards from the British Science Association.

“We want every young person, regardless of their background, to benefit from the opportunities that a STEM education and career can provide.”
Ian Duffy, head of UK communications and community development for BP

This year's Ultimate STEM Challenge was won by four young scientists from Walton Priory School who produced an energy efficient solution to generate electricity from moving water.  

The Ultimate STEM Challenge 2019 projects will be launched in June 2018. The new challenges will focus on the theme of engineering to reflect our support of the UK Government’s Year of Engineering 2018. For further information on how to take part register at bp.com/bpes and you will receive the most up to date information via email.

The competition has been developed based on insights from the ground-breaking ‘Enterprising Science’ research which shows that the more science capital (science-related qualifications, interest, literacy and social contacts) a young person has, the more likely they are to pursue a STEM career.

The Ultimate STEM Challenge aims to give young people the opportunity to see themselves as scientists and engineers of the future and encourage them to continue studying STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers.

Ian Duffy, head of communications and community development for BP in the UK said: “We want every young person, regardless of their background, to benefit from the opportunities that a STEM education and career can provide. We are learning from our Enterprising Science research that an effective way to build science capital and foster STEM learning among young people is to show how science is meaningful and relevant to their lives. The Ultimate STEM Challenge does this by showing students how real-world applications flow from classroom science and maths.

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