Nottinghamshire school wins national STEM Challenge at the Science Museum

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On Monday 14th March, three students from Toot Hill School in Bingham, Nottinghamshire won the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge competition at the Science Museum in London. For the second consecutive year, BP, STEMNET and the Science Museum launched the nationwide schools competition, which challenges 11-14 year-old students to test their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills by tackling real-world energy problems.

The Ultimate STEM Challenge aims to get young people excited about STEM, encourage them to continue studying STEM subjects and to pursue STEM careers. According to EngineeringUK, at all levels of education, the UK does not have the current capacity or the required rate of growth needed to meet the forecast demand for skilled engineers and technicians by 2022.

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“I can’t believe it,” said Mary Sowter, part of the winning team. “When I found out we were going to London I was so excited, and to have won has topped off an amazing day. I’ve learnt so much from seeing the other schools’ projects, and today has really inspired me to take part in more STEM challenges in the future.”

This is the second consecutive year that the competition has been held. This year’s challenges were based around the theme of using STEM to improve energy efficiency. Working in groups of two to four at a STEM club, in class or as an independent project, students could choose from three real-world challenges: Better Buildings, Streamlined Ships or Trim Turbines. To enter, teams were asked to create a short film or presentation showcasing their project.
 
Toot Hill School’s solution focused on developing an energy efficient design for wind turbines. The team experimented with changing the material of the turbine blade to understand if a rougher or smoother surface would affect the efficiency. The team won £500 to spend on Science equipment or field trips as well as Science Museum goodies.

Drew Thomson, associate assistant headteacher and competition judge, said: “All the finalists, not simply the winners, are to be congratulated and can take great pride in their achievements and efforts. Having been part of the judging panel this year, it’s clear that project-based competitions like the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge are a fantastic way of encouraging young people to better understand the rich diversity of STEM applications and career pathways, as well as demonstrating how STEM impacts the world we live in.”

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Community development manager for BP in the UK Ian Duffy said: “BP has been committed to STEM education for over 45 years and the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge is one of our key programmes. The research BP conducted with King’s College London and the Science Museum shows us that we need to help to make STEM-related subjects more engaging by opening young people’s eyes to their relevance to themselves and their own lives. By running the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge, we hope to present young people with opportunities to engage with STEM in new and exciting ways, taking it beyond the classroom.”

Visit www.bpes.bp.com for more information.

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