BP has 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”.
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.