Tackle the Ultimate STEM Challenge: last year's winners are here to help
Now in its fourth year, BP’s Ultimate STEM Challenge is back with three new challenges on the theme of My Sustainable Future.
Students aged 11 to 14 are invited to use their STEM skills to help reduce our impact on the environment and create a more sustainable future. By exploring the practical uses of science, these challenges are designed to inspire young people to consider careers in STEM.
If your school is eager to impress the Ultimate STEM Challenge judges this year, you’re probably looking for some tips to help you get started. Last year’s winners – Hattie, Cathryn and Amelie from Bredon Hill Academy in Worcestershire – have some advice and guidance to help you get the most out of the Ultimate STEM Challenge.
What advice would they give future entrants, and how can your team be crowned as this year’s champions? The experts are here to help!
Hattie, Cathryn, and Amelie are still hugely proud of their achievement, and remember the final as a thrilling event. Hattie explains, “It was really exciting and nerve racking. My favourite part of the day was presenting.” Cathryn’s highlight was watching the other groups present, while Amelie’s favourite part was answering the judges’ questions at the science fair.
For many students, presenting to an audience might be a daunting prospect, but the girls of Bredon Hill know how to beat the nerves. “Make sure you go up there and take a breath and keep looking at the audience,” Amelie advises, “and make sure to prepare – once you get in the rhythm, everything is alright.” Cathryn agrees that confidence and eye contact will be key: “Keep looking at the audience – don't just look at the paper!”
What happens if you’re less worried about the final event, and more concerned about how to get started?
Amelie recommends that you delegate tasks to different team members based on their strengths, while Hattie underlines the importance of preparation: “We laid our ideas out on a piece of paper, researched those ideas and experimented with different approaches to the challenge.”
Despite their preparations, the girls experienced plenty of stumbling blocks along the way. They discovered that conducting a big investigation isn’t always easy, but by keeping calm and level-headed they kept going to achieve some great results.
So, what’s next for these three Ultimate STEM Challenge winners? Will they be pursuing a STEM career now they’ve tasted success?
Amelie explains that she had always liked science and mathematics, and the competition strengthened her love for logical subjects. In contrast, Hattie and Cathryn would not have described themselves as particularly interested in STEM before the challenge. However, both Hattie and Cathryn feel the challenge has taught them skills that they can use throughout their studies, not just in science subjects. Hattie said, “I’m interested in a career in journalism, so the Ultimate STEM Challenge has given me more confidence to stand up and speak in front of an audience. I am also interested in more crime-based journalism, which will definitely require STEM skills and knowledge.”
Overall, Hattie, Amelie and Cathryn all had a positive and valuable experience with the Ultimate STEM Challenge. What number one tip would they give to help you achieve the same?
Hattie: “Throw yourself in there.”
Amelie: “Think outside the box.”
Cathryn: “Have fun!”
Find out more about the Ultimate STEM Challenge
- with this year’s Ultimate STEM Challenge, teachers and students can choose from three brand new challenges: Handy Hydro, Parched Plants and Brilliant Biogas
- the deadline for entries is 12 January 2018, with winners receiving an Ultimate STEM experience day, £500 to spend on science equipment or field trips, and Science Museum goody bags!
- get more tips and guidance here