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 a day of fun science activities.
The Ultimate STEM Challenge aims to engage young people with new, real-world challenges that highlight the benefit of STEM study and the array of careers available in STEM.
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 and 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.”
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. – Eve, member of winning team from Walton Priory
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.”