Exploring the world creatively: teachers share their experiences of the Ultimate STEM Challenge

BP Ultimate STEM Challenge

The Ultimate STEM Challenge invites 11-14 year old students to put their STEM skills to the test.

With the entry deadline for this year’s competition fast approaching, we chatted to some schools that took part in last year’s challenge who told all about how the competition has impacted them and their students.

Transforming students’ lives at Bohunt School

The students at Bohunt School in Liphook, Hampshire developed their best ideas for the Auto Arms Challenge, where they had to come up with an efficient design for a robot arm and gripper.

“This is the second consecutive year in which Bohunt pupils have reached the finals of a national STEM competition. I am very proud of Anna, Louis and Dominic and of the way that they worked.

I truly believe that opportunities like this can transform the lives of students; education must not inevitably reflect and reproduce existing ways of thinking, but should encourage individuals to explore their worlds creatively and apply their knowledge in a real-world context.” - Stratianna Davi, science teacher at Bohunt School

Bredon Hill Academy get their teeth into the challenge

Bredon Hill Academy in Evesham, Worcestershire took on the Future Flight Challenge, where they had to come up with an efficient design that generates the most lift for a remote-controlled survey aircraft.

“The students have attended many lunch and after-school sessions to complete the project. They loved getting their teeth into the challenge and working independently.

They have realised that to achieve an end goal you have to plan ahead and work hard and that hard work pays off. Each of them has made fantastic progress since taking part.” - Sally Huntly, science curriculum leader at Bredon Hill Academy

Reaching new heights at St Columba’s School

The Future Flight Challenge is what the students at St Columba’s School in Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire decided to tackle. They had to come up with an efficient design that generates the most lift for a remote-controlled survey aircraft.

“I’m really pleased for the team. They’re very good, great fun to supervise and I am really proud of them for doing so well. They have learnt to work more effectively in a team and they have developed their skills of scientific enquiry.

Their ability to plan and conduct an investigation has improved vastly and they are far more independent, with a greater degree of initiative and confidence.” - Julie Boyle, physics teacher at St Columba’s School

Rocketing to success at Clapton Girls’ Academy

Students at Clapton Girls’ Academy in Hackney, East London have developed their best ideas for the Rescue Rockets Challenge, where they had to come up with an efficient design for a water-powered rocket. The challenge involves reducing air resistance to help reach maximum altitude and stay in the sky for the longest period of time.

“It has been a great opportunity for the students to apply their theoretical knowledge and collaboratively problem solve, and to have a prolonged period. 

The girls demonstrated good scientific method and a high level of perseverance, often having to test their rockets in cold and wet conditions.” - Andrew Ferdinando, science teacher at Clapton Girls’ Academy

Kingdown School raising the profile of STEM

The students at Kingdown School in Warminster, Wiltshire also took on the Rescue Rockets Challenge.

“I am delighted that Anna, May, Charlotte and Poppy reached the finals - it is an impressive achievement, and reflects their hard work and commitment to their project.

I run a weekly science club for gifted and talented pupils in the school, and achieving something like this raises the profile of STEM subjects for students at the school.” - Rachel Bala, science teacher at Kingdown School

Will your students take on the challenge?

Entries for this year’s Ultimate STEM Challenge are currently open – could your students be next year’s winners? The deadline for entries is 12 January 2018, so there is still time to get involved and engage students with the world of STEM and sustainability.

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