BP’s Ultimate STEM Challenge 2020: help your students to get creative

By BP

BP’s competition helps young people develop their problem-solving skills and employability by reimagining a solution to a real-life problem.

Wearable technology is changing our world. From watches that monitor health to smart glasses that provide guidance for remote experts, the possibilities are endless. Today, scientists, technologists, engineers and designers are working on new solutions that will improve health, sports, the workplace and our everyday lives.

But what will wearable tech of the future look like? The answer to this is in the hands of 9- to 14-year olds as part of this year’s BP Ultimate STEM Challenge – an annual, nationwide competition launched by BP, in collaboration with STEM Learning, to boost STEM engagement across schools. It’s designed to help young people develop their creativity, problem-solving skills and employability by tackling real-world challenges.

Wearable tech

This year, BP invites students to design a piece of wearable tech that will improve lives in the future. Teachers have access to ready-to-go resources, providing everything they need for students to take part. This includes information on the latest advancements in wearable tech, videos, teacher notes and worksheets to guide the design process.

The competition is linked to the science, computing and design and technology curricula (making it highly relevant to Gatsby Benchmark 4) and it’s free to enter. Lucky winners will take part in a hackathon where STEM experts will help bring their ideas to life.

The challenges can be completed at a STEM club, in class or as an independent project. With creativity and innovation at the heart of the challenges even those students who may not naturally gravitate towards science will be inspired. Teachers also have the opportunity to request support from a STEM Ambassador.

It’s easy to take part:

  1. Download your ready-to-go packs including two lesson plans, homework activity and competition entry forms.
  2. Get your pupils to capture their wearable tech idea on the challenge entry form.
  3. Send your pupils’ entries (by email, fax or post) before the closing date of 14 January 2020.

Case study: 2018/19 winners – Blundell’s School, East Devon

Last year’s Ultimate BP Ultimate STEM Challenge was to create an innovative design solution for an everyday problem.

On the day of the final, 11 teams from 10 secondary schools presented their work to an expert judging panel as part of a BP Ultimate STEM Challenge Science Fair. The judging panel comprised leading scientists and engineers, including Bill Hedges, chief materials engineer at BP, Kerry Baker, strategic initiatives lead at STEM Learning, Hilary Leevers, CEO of Engineering UK and Roger Highfield, director of science at the Science Museum.

The winning project was a measuring device for coffee machines that checks the cup size before pouring, which makes it suitable for any cup, cutting down on plastic pollution and one-use cups. The team, from Blundell’s School, won £1,000 to spend on science equipment or field trips, as well as Science Museum goodies.

Three other student teams were also rewarded for their innovative thinking and creativity. Bredon Hill Academy and Walton Priory Middle School won the ‘Highly Commended’ awards, while Colyton Grammar School were awarded ‘Best Stand’. All the finalist teams received a prize bag of Science Museum goodies and a bronze CREST award.

Innovation and teamwork

Sophia Rochfort and Freya Gillard from the winning team were praised by the judges for their innovative scientific thinking, excellent presentation skills and passion for technology and engineering. Gillard explained that the best part of the experience “was designing and building the prototype, it was a lot of fun! We also loved presenting today and meeting all the other finalists,” she said.

Dr Attila Teiermayer, head of science at Blundell’s School, applauded the effort put in by all the students and schools that took part and highlighted the benefits of the experience.

“All the students here today deserve a lot of credit for their enthusiasm, innovation and teamwork,” he said. “Giving them the chance to present their ideas, and bring them face-to-face with leading engineers and scientists as positive role models, has given them a truly memorable experience.”

Ongoing participation in STEM

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 research, which seek to further demonstrate that science is for everyone and can be found everywhere.

BP’s Ian Duffy highlights the importance of linking STEM to practical problems to be solved in the real world: “We are learning from our Enterprising Science research that an effective way to build science capital and foster STEM learning among young people is to show how science is meaningful and relevant to their lives.  The Ultimate STEM Challenge does this by showing students how real-world applications flow from classroom science and maths.”

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