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Ultimate STEM Challenge is back! Can your students help build a more sustainable future?

Release date:
19 June 2017
Now in its fourth year, BP’s Ultimate STEM Challenge is back for 2017! In partnership with the Science Museum and STEM Learning, BP is inviting UK students aged 11 to 14 to use their STEM skills to help reduce our impact on the environment and create a more sustainable future

With the world demand for natural resources ever increasing and global warming one of today’s biggest environmental threats, this year BP is challenging young people to use their problem-solving skills and creativity to help create a more sustainable future for people around the world.


This year’s theme – My Sustainable Future – will see young people develop solutions to three real-world challenges which will reduce natural resource use or bring down greenhouse gas emissions.


Teachers and students can choose from three exciting new sustainability challenges:

  • Handy Hydro: Create an efficient design for generating electricity from moving water
  • Parched Plants: Grow indoor plants using a sustainable method that conserves water
  • 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.

Students can complete this challenge in a STEM Club, during a collapsed timetable day, in classroom lessons or in their own time.

The deadline for entries is January 12th 2018, with winners receiving an Ultimate STEM experience day, £500 to spend on science equipment or field trips, and Science Museum goody bags!

Finalists will compete against schools from around the country at the Science Museum for a chance to be crowned as 2018 Ultimate STEM Challenge winners.



BP plays a key role in nurturing the scientists and engineers of the future. With this year’s Ultimate STEM Challenge theme of My Sustainable Future, students will learn about the impact of carbon emissions and how our choices affect the environment. Through our ground-breaking research on science capital, we know that relatable, real-world challenges like this can inspire young people to aspire to careers in science. We’re excited to see what creative solutions students will come up with!
Ian Duffy,Head of UK Communications & Community Development for BP



We’re always delighted to work in partnership with Ultimate STEM Challenge and the Science Museum. In its fourth year, we’re especially excited to see the competition focus on sustainability as we ask students to help reduce environmental impact and to create a more sustainable future. This year, all participating schools can request a STEM Ambassador to support their STEM Club or class during the competition. Our community of over 30,000 volunteer Ambassadors can help to open up a world of opportunities for students by providing invaluable insight into the pathways from STEM study to exciting careers. We strongly encourage all participating schools to take advantage of this free-of-charge opportunity.
Gill Collinson,Head of Centre & Partnerships at STEM Learning



Last year’s Ultimate STEM Challenge final was a great success, with the Science Museum playing host to some truly innovative and creative solutions for real-world problems. This year, with the theme of My Sustainable Future and a set of three new real-world challenges, we think this is another perfect opportunity for schools to explore and expand their students’ engagement with science. We look forward to welcoming schools from around the country for the final!
Tom O’Leary,Director of Learning at the Science Museum Group



After winning last year’s Ultimate STEM Challenge, Cathryn, Amelie and Hattie of Bredon Hill Academy spoke about their experience



My confidence has grown so much from practising our presentations in front of our year group last week to presenting to a room full of people today.



I've loved hearing about all the exciting projects the other teams have been involved with today.
  • Looking for hints and tips on how to submit a winning entry? Read our guide to find out what the judges are looking for to help your students craft a creative entry: http://on.bp.com/2s9CVOW
  • All participating schools can request a STEM Ambassador to support their STEM Club or class – find out more: http://on.bp.com/2rr6dvD
  • Last year’s winning team – Bredon Hill in Worcestershire – were inspired by flying animals to develop their design for efficient gliding wings. Watch the video to find out how they did it: http://on.bp.com/2rgHrdw
  • For full details on the competition, access to STEM Ambassadors and to download the free Challenge resources, please visit: http://on.bp.com/2t1wUEc

Notes to editors

For further information about the Ultimate STEM Challenge, please contact:

David Segurola, EdComs

+44 (0) 7951 948 721


About the Ultimate STEM Challenge

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.


About BP and BP’s commitment to STEM education

BP is of one of the world's leading international oil and gas companies operating in around 80 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.

BP invests £3.25 million each year in STEM-related educational activities in the UK and estimates its resources have reached an estimated 2.8 million UK students over the past five years.

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 research, which seek to further demonstrate that science is for everyone and can be found everywhere.


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.


About STEM Learning

We support teachers of science, technology, computing and mathematics in working towards our vision that all young people, across the UK, should receiving a world-leading STEM education.

We operate the National STEM Learning Centre and Network; providing support locally, through Science Learning Partnerships across England, and partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; the network of STEM Ambassadors; alongside a range of other projects supporting STEM education.

STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from a broad range of jobs and backgrounds who are passionate about inspiring young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies and careers. With a community of over 30,000 volunteers, they are an important, free of charge resource for individuals and groups working with young people across the 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.


About British Science Week

British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths – featuring fascinating, entertaining and engaging events and activities across the UK for people of all ages. British Science Week 2017 takes place 10 – 19 March 2017.

Science Week provides a platform to stimulate and support teachers, STEM professionals, science communicators and the general public to participate in a range of activities that explore the intersection between science and culture. Anyone can organise an event, and the British Science Association helps organisers plan by providing free activity support and resources.

British Science Week 2016 featured thousands of events across the UK, engaging more than 1.6 million people in the UK’s biggest grassroots celebration of science.