Toot Hill School wins BP Ultimate STEM Challenge

Three young scientists from Nottinghamshire win competition with design for energy efficient wind turbines

Three students from Toot Hill School in Bingham, Nottinghamshire have won the national BP Ultimate STEM Challenge, at an event held at the Science Museum in London, this week.

The competition challenges 11-14 year-old students to test their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills by tackling real-world energy problems. This year’s challenges were based around the theme of using STEM to improve energy efficiency. Students could choose from three 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. 

Mary Sowter, part of the winning team, said: “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.”

The Ultimate STEM Challenge aims to get young people excited about STEM, encourage them to continue studying STEM subjects and to pursue STEM careers. The competition was developed as a result of ground-breaking research conducted by King’s College London, which 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. 

Ian Duffy, community development manager for BP in the UK said: “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.”

The team from Toot Hill School won £500 to spend on science equipment or field trips as well as Science Museum goodies.

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.