Finalists for this year’s Longitude Explorer Prize unveiled

40 teams are in the running for the £20,000 prize that sees school students using technology to tackle a contemporary challenge

The finalists have been announced for one of the annual high points of the STEM-in-education calendar, the Longitude Explorer Prize.

Forty teams of 11–16-year-olds remain in the running to scoop the £20,000 first prize for their school or youth group, awarded for the best blending of innovation and entrepreneurialism in developing solutions to help solve issues including climate change, healthy living, and becoming better connected.

Each of the teams will now work with tech industry mentors to develop real-world prototypes of their ideas, ahead of the final judging day in July.

“Whittling down all of the amazing entries was incredibly difficult but we are delighted to be able to share [the] 40 deserving finalists,” said one of this year’s judges, Jacqueline de Rojas, president of techUK.

“The submissions have been really innovative in the way they have applied technology and real-world promise and [bring] with them potential for huge impact.


From the archive: In 2017, the winning design was a badge that communicates the emotions of autistic users


“It will be a privilege to watch these innovative ideas blossom with support from industry experts, alongside the passion, skills and confidence of the talented young people taking part.”

Ideas shortlisted for this year’s award include:

  • A spherical robot scanning the sea to remove microplastics
  • A self-contained insect farm in which worms eat non-recyclable plastics
  • A device to harvest energy from opening and closing doors
  • A phone case incorporating temperature sensor and hand sanitiser
  • An app looking to support young women and help end period poverty
  • A device translating sign language into speech and vice-versa

Organised by Nesta Challenges and sponsored for the first time by Amazon, this year’s competition opened in November and attracted more than 150 entries from over 500 young people across the UK.

In good news for an event looking to address the lack of diversity in STEM industries, more than half (58%) of all entrants to this year’s prize were young women.

As well as the first prize, three teams of runners-up will receive £5,000 each for their school or youth group, while the entry that tops a public poll will also be awarded £5,000.

“It has been amazing to be inundated with so many innovative entries despite the immense pressures faced by young people, teachers and youth workers alike,” said Maddy Kavanagh, education and skills programme manager at Nesta Challenges. “Schools are working extraordinarily hard to ensure students excel after lockdown, and youth groups continue to provide vital extracurricular services and support.

“We are so pleased that the prize is introducing more young people to the exciting opportunities in STEM, supporting the growth of entrepreneurial life skills, and developing their confidence at such a pivotal time. We can’t wait to see our teams develop their ideas into real-world prototypes in the next three months.”

To see the full list of finalists, please click here.

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