Three students from Toot Hill School in Bingham, Nottinghamshire won the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge competition at an event today at the Science Museum in London.
For the second consecutive year, BP, STEMNET and the Science Museum launched the nationwide schools competition, which challenges 11-14 year-old students to test their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills by tackling real-world energy problems.
The competition 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 shows that despite 70 percent 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 be a scientist.
The Ultimate STEM Challenge aims to get young people excited about STEM, encourage them to continue studying STEM subjects and to pursue STEM careers. According to EngineeringUK, at all levels of education, the UK does not have the current capacity or the required rate of growth needed to meet the forecast demand for skilled engineers and technicians by 2022.
Mary Sowter part of the winning team, spoke about what it was like to win this year’s BP Ultimate STEM Challenge. She 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.”
Team member, Jack Kellas, added: “It’s fantastic, all our hard work has paid off.”
Their teacher, Bina Mistry said: “I’m so incredibly proud, even getting to the final was amazing, so to have won is the perfect end to the day. The whole event has been really motivating and inspiring.”
Ian Duffy, community development manager for BP in the UK said: “BP has been committed to STEM education for over 45 years and the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge is one of our key programmes. The research BP conducted with King’s College London and the Science Museum shows us that we need to help to make STEM-related subjects more engaging by opening young people’s eyes to their relevance to themselves and their own lives. By running the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge, we hope to present young people with opportunities to engage with STEM in new and exciting ways, taking it beyond the classroom.”
Kirsten Bodley, chief executive at STEMNET said: “The creativity and enthusiasm that schools bring to the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge is absolutely inspiring. It’s also wonderful to see new STEM Clubs starting up in order to take part. We hope the new clubs feel encouraged to continue to grow and that more young people become excited by STEM subjects and their opportunities post-16.”
Tom O’Leary, director of learning at the Science Museum added: “I’m impressed by the high calibre of the projects entered in this year’s BP Ultimate STEM Challenge. The ideas presented by the finalists show that they’re applying their scientific thinking beyond the classroom to real-life scenarios in a creative and innovative way.”
Drew Thomson, associate assistant head teacher and head of science at Rickmansworth School said: “All the finalists, not simply the winners, are to be congratulated and can take great pride in their achievements and efforts. Having been part of the judging panel this year, it’s clear that project-based competitions like the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge are a fantastic way of encouraging young people to better understand the rich diversity of STEM applications and career pathways, as well as demonstrating how STEM impacts the world we live in.”
This is the second consecutive year that the competition has been held. This year’s challenges were based around the theme of using STEM to improve energy efficiency. Working in groups of two to four at a STEM club, in class or as an independent project, students could choose from three real-world challenges: Better Buildings, Streamlined Ships or Trim Turbines. To enter, teams were asked to create a short film or presentation showcasing their project.
Toot Hill School’s solution focused on developing an energy efficient design for wind turbines. The team experimented with changing the material of the turbine blade to understand if a rougher or smoother surface would affect the efficiency. The team won £500 to spend on science equipment or field trips as well as Science Museum goodies.