Young scientists from Walton Priory School in Staffordshire win national STEM competition with their energy efficient solution to generate electricity from moving water
Four students from Walton Priory School in Staffordshire have won the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge at an event held at the Science Museum in London. Aimee, Eve, Jenny and Megan were praised by the judges for their innovative scientific thinking, excellent presentation skills and passion for science communication.
The final took place during British Science Week 2018 (9-18 March), a nationwide celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Now in its fourth year, the Ultimate STEM Challenge invites students aged 11-14 to put their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills to the test by tackling real-world problems. The competition is run by the BP Educational Service in partnership with STEM Learning.
This year’s competition theme – My Sustainable Future – challenged the students to develop solutions to one of three real-world challenges: Handy Hydro, Parched Plants or Brilliant Biogas. All the challenges were designed to encourage students to think about how they could help to reduce natural resource use or bring down greenhouse gas emissions.
On the day, the twelve finalist teams presented their work to an expert judging panel, before sharing their work with other students, teachers, STEM ambassadors and a host of stakeholders from the world of STEM education. All finalist teams also participated in day of fun science activities.
The Ultimate STEM Challenge aims to bridge that gap by engaging young people with new, real-world challenges that highlight the benefit of STEM study and the array of careers available in STEM.
Walton Priory’s winning solution focused on the use of a waterwheel and dam – the students even conducted a series of experiments with a prototype in a local stream. The team won an Ultimate STEM Experience day, £500 to spend on science equipment or field trips, as well as Science Museum goodies.
Three student teams were also rewarded for their innovative thinking and ability to bring their projects to life. Colyton Grammar and InterHigh Education won the ‘Highly Commended’ awards, while Oakhill College were awarded ‘Best Stand’.
Eve, part of the school’s winning team, said:
“We’re all so exhilarated to have won! When you see talent shows on TV, you don’t know how you will react when you win, but now we know!
“The best part of our experience was designing and building the prototype to test in the stream. We knew we wanted to be practical and get our hands dirty, but we also loved presenting today and meeting all the other competitors.
“I only joined our school’s STEM Club in September, and I’m really glad I did because we get to run our own projects and work independently.”
Gordon Taylor, STEM technician at Walton Priory, said:
“Both the team and the school have worked really hard, so winning today is a fantastic reward for everybody’s effort. Resilience is a big part of the reason why we won, the team had some knockbacks along the way but they remained optimistic throughout and didn’t give up.
“The day the prototype worked for the first time was a great moment because it created excitement all throughout the school. That enthusiasm has spread quickly, so we’ve grown the STEM Club by three times already.
“Giving these students different experiences with science, and bringing them face-to-face with female engineers as positive role models, has given them a truly memorable experience.”
Ian Duffy, Head of UK communications and community development for BP, said:
“This year BP is celebrating the fifty-year anniversary of its support for STEM education in the UK, and we’re also a proud partner of the Year of Engineering 2018. Our long-term ambition has been to address the STEM skills gap through targeted investment at all levels of education, so it’s a pleasure to be at the Ultimate STEM Challenge final today, celebrating the achievements of these inspirational young people from schools around the country.
“By showing students how engineers make a difference to the world through solutions to real-world problems, we can encourage more young people to pursue STEM studies now and in the future.”
Yvonne Baker, chief executive of STEM Learning, said:
“The creativity and enthusiasm that students bring to the Ultimate STEM Challenge every year is truly inspiring, and that has been particular true at this year’s final. We hope that all schools who run STEM Clubs will continue to take advantage of the support available from STEM Ambassadors. We want to see more young people engaged in STEM study and engaging with science-related career paths, so it’s a pleasure to see these schools continue to grow their enthusiasm for science.”
Chris Hillidge, the competition’s teacher judge, Director of STEM and Specialist Leader of Education at Beamont Collegiate Academy in Warrington, said:
“We had a brilliant day with the Ultimate STEM Challenge finalists. This competition is a great way to encourage young people to engage with STEM and the array of careers you can access by studying STEM subjects. All the students here today deserve a lot of credit for their enthusiasm, innovation and teamwork.”
Notes to editors
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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.
BP’s Ultimate STEM Challenge was developed as a result of ground-breaking research conducted by King’s College London and University College London, research partners in BP’s Enterprising Science programme. The research demonstrates that only around 15 percent of school children aspire to be a scientist, despite the fact that 70 percent agree that they ‘learn interesting things in science’ and that ‘scientists make a difference in the world’.
For more information go to www.bp.com/ultimatestemchallenge
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 72 countries and employing 74,500 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 50 years, BP has been working to address the STEM skills gap through targeted investment at all levels of education. BP supports a comprehensive national programme of STEM initiatives which contribute to every stage of education, including early years, primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational.
BP invests 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 Enterprising Science research, which seek to further demonstrate that science is for everyone and can be found everywhere.
For more information go to www.bp.com/STEM
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.
For more information go to www.stem.org.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.
For more information go to www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
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 2018 takes place 9-18 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.
For more information go to www.britishscienceweek.org
The Year of Engineering 2018
The Year of Engineering is a government campaign which celebrates the world and wonder of engineering.
Throughout 2018, young people and their parents will have the chance to take a closer look at engineering, with thousands of inspiring experiences of engineering on offer throughout the country. Through bringing young people face to face with engineering role models and achievements, the campaign will showcase the creativity, variety and innovation of the profession. It will also highlight the opportunities and benefits of engineering careers for all young people –regardless of their gender, ethnicity or social background.