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BP launches third ‘Ultimate STEM Challenge’ for 11 to 14 year olds

Release date:
1 September 2016
Do you know a budding young scientist? What about an enthusiastic engineer? BP, the Science Museum Group and STEM Learning are rolling out a nationwide competition to boost STEM engagement across schools

BP today announced the launch of its annual competition – the Ultimate STEM Challenge – for the third consecutive year in partnership with STEM Learning and the Science Museum. The competition invites young people aged 11 to 14 across the UK to put their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills to the test by tackling real-world challenges.


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.


Last year more than 600 students took part in the competition, themed around increasing efficiency. This year, students are being challenged to use their creativity to design an energy efficient solution to one of three real-world challenges:

  1. Rescue Rockets
  2. Future Flight
  3. Auto Arm

The challenges have been developed to ensure they reflect the energy efficiency considerations that apply across all of BP’s operations, including how we inspect and maintain equipment, support our staff and explore new territories.


All challenges can be completed by groups of two to four students at a STEM club, in class or as an independent project. Teachers will also have the opportunity to request support from a STEM Ambassador.


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.


To enter, teams will need to create a short film or presentation showcasing their project. Teachers need to submit these before the deadline of 13 January 2017 using the online form on the BP Educational Service website at www.bp.com/ultimatestemchallenge


Finalists will be invited to a celebratory final event during British Science Week. There, they will present their work to the judging panel and compete for prizes, including an Ultimate STEM experience day, £500 to spend on science equipment or field trips and Science Museum goodies.


Last year’s Ultimate STEM Challenge was won by three students from Toot Hill School in Bingham, Nottinghamshire with their energy efficient design for wind turbines. Mary Sowter, part of Toot Hill School’s winning team, said: “I can’t believe it. When I found out we were going to London I was so excited, and to have won has topped off an amazing day. I’ve learnt so much from seeing the other schools’ projects, and today has really inspired me to take part in more STEM challenges in the future.”


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.We hope that this year’s challenges will inspire those who think science ‘isn’t for them’ to take part.


”Yvonne Baker, chief executive at the National STEM Learning Centre and Network said: “We are delighted to be a partner of the Ultimate STEM Challenge, which is a great example of an initiative developing young people’s creativity, problem-solving, employability skills and enjoyment of STEM.


By incorporating the STEM Ambassadors and STEM Clubs alongside our high-quality CPD, resources and support for teachers and technicians, we want to encourage schools to take part in more initiatives like these. STEM Ambassadors can open up a world of opportunities providing insights about how students’ STEM learning relates to the real-world and the different careers within it, and so I would strongly encourage schools to take up this opportunity.”


Tom O’Leary, director of learning at the Science Museum said: “The Science Museum is delighted to be a partner in the Ultimate STEM Challenge for a third year and looks forward to celebrating participants’ achievements at the final event. Museums and science centres play a crucial role in driving career aspirations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and through our involvement in the Enterprising Science research we continue to explore new and exciting ways to build science capital in young people and their families.”


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

Notes to editors

For further information and imagery for the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge, please contact Tara Saghafi tara.saghafi@edcoms.co.uk / 0207 401 4066


About BP and BP’s commitment to STEM education

BP is one of the world's leading integrated oil and gas companies, operating in over 70 countries and employing around 80,000 people. It provides customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, lubricants to keep engines moving, and the petrochemicals products used to make everyday items as diverse as paints, clothes and packaging.For over 45 years, BP has been working to address the STEM skills gap through targeted investment at all levels of education.


BP’s early STEM initiatives began as a teaching resource that has since grown into a comprehensive programme contributing to every stage of education, including early years, primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational.


In order to inspire participating schools to continue running their STEM Clubs and engaging with STEM-based enrichment activities, the BP Educational Service website now has a dedicated STEM Clubs section. This sits alongside a suite of classroom teaching resources developed in response to the Enterprising Science research, which seek to further demonstrate that science is for everyone and can be found everywhere.


About the Ultimate STEM Challenge

Targeting younger secondary school students yet to make their GCSE or Scottish National choices, the Ultimate STEM Challenge aims to get young people excited about STEM, to encourage them to continue studying STEM subjects and to pursue STEM careers. www.bp.com/ultimatestemchallenge


  • Who can enter the 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 challenges 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 BPES website at www.bp.com/ultimatestemchallenge 
  • How can STEM ambassadors be involved?
    STEM Ambassadors use their enthusiasm and commitment to encourage young people to enjoy STEM subjects. Involving a STEM Ambassador in the competition – for example, to kick-off the challenge – is optional but recommended as it will enhance the students' experience and learning.
  • To find out how your school can engage with STEM Ambassadors get in touch with your local Contract Holder: www.stem.org.uk/stem-ambassadors
  • 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 STEM Learning

STEM Learning Ltd (formerly the National STEM Centre and the National Science Learning Centre) provides world-class professional development activities and quality-assured teaching resources to support the teaching of STEM. The website houses the largest collection of resources and CPD activities in the UK. www.stem.org.uk


From 1 August 2016 STEM Learning and STEMNET merged, combining their operations, including the management of the network of STEM Ambassadors.


STEM Ambassadors use their enthusiasm and commitment to encourage young people to enjoy STEM subjects. They open the doors to a world of opportunities and possibilities which come from pursuing STEM subjects and careers.


STEM Ambassadors not only inspire young people, they also support teachers in the classroom by explaining current applications of STEM in industry or research.


STEM Ambassadors contribute to their local community and at the same time boost their own professional skills, experience and confidence.


Placing STEM Ambassadors and STEM Clubs alongside the highly-rated STEM inspiration and teacher support already offered by STEM Learning provides those who work with young people in STEM subjects and activities with the support they need all in one place.


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


About Enterprising Science

Enterprising Science is a five-year partnership between King's College London and the Science Museum, funded by BP (2013-2017). This research and development project uses the concept of ‘science capital’ (science-related qualifications, interest, literacy and social contacts) to understand how young people from all backgrounds engage with science and how their engagement might be supported.


The research 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. Yet only 5% of 11 to 17 years old have high science capital and 27% have low science capital, particularly those from disadvantaged schools and communities. Furthermore, despite 70% of young people finding science interesting only 17% see it as being for ‘them’. www.enterprisingscience.com