The competition has been developed based on insights from the ground-breaking ‘Enterprising Science’ research that BP is conducting with its partners King’s College London and the Science Museum Group. The underlying King's College London research shows 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 percent ‘aspire to become a scientist.’
The Ultimate STEM Challenge aims to get young people excited about STEM and encourage them to continue studying STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers. The UK faces a severe skills gap if it fails to increase the level of STEM participation from a young age. According to EngineeringUK, each year, only half the number of engineers have the right qualifications to fill nearly two million job openings expected by 2020.
This year, students are being challenged to develop an energy efficient solution to one of three real-world challenges:
The challenges have been developed to ensure they reflect BP’s energy efficiency considerations in its operations, from working in comfortable conditions, transporting oil and liquefied natural gas around the world and generating renewable electricity from wind turbines.
The challenges can be completed by groups of two to four students at a STEM club, in class or as an independent project. 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:
To enter, the teams will need to create a short film or presentation showcasing their project. Teachers need to submit these before the deadline of 15 January 2016 using the online form on the BP Educational Service (BPES) website (www.bp.com/ultimatestemchallenge).
Finalists will be invited to a celebratory final event in British Science Week (14 March 2016, TBC) at the Science Museum in London. There, they will present their work to the judging panel and compete for prizes, including £500 to spend on science equipment or field trips and Science Museum goodies.
Over 500 students participated in the first competition, themed around exploring, living and working in challenging environments. A team from Wells Cathedral Senior School won, with their solution focused on how to keep hydrated in extreme environments. Megan Taylor, part of the winning team, spoke about what it was like to win the first Ultimate STEM Challenge. “It’s been a really cool experience and we’ve learned loads along the way. I didn’t realise science could be so much fun and I now want 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.”