The Ultimate STEM Challenge (USC) is an annual competition run by BP as part of their long-standing commitment to education through the BP Educational Service. Since 2014, the USC has asked young people, aged 11-14 across the UK to put their science, technology, engineering and maths skills to the test by conjuring up inventions from the depths of their creative minds.
This year, the task set to young people was to come up with the solution to a real-life problem, whatever the size or need. Providing such an open canvas for students enabled some incredibly inventive ideas, the evidence of which was evident at both the semi-final and final. From 251 team entries devolved 24 semi-finalist entries, those semi-finalists went through a rigorous judging process by a panel of 12 STEM experts from various different aspects of the STEM education and working worlds. After a long day and much debating, 11 teams were then invited to present their ideas at the Ultimate STEM Challenge Final at the Science Museum, London.
The final was held on 13th May and it did not disappoint. The 11 teams of budding innovators each presented their ideas and showed a passion and excitement for everything STEM, the inventions ranged from sustainability projects to automatic musical tuners to a device which helped deaf people to feel the beat of the music through a custom-designed shoe. Once the presentations were done, it was time to move onto the bustling science fair, where each team had the chance to press their prototypes and answer questions from the judges for the coveted prize whilst the excited crowd of parents, teachers and BP employees examined each invention with awe.
Finally, it was time for the winners to be announced; Bill Hedges, Chief Engineer at BP described the judging process as, “harder than building an oil rig in the North Sea!” due to the levels of creativity and science aptitude shown. But nevertheless, one team emerged as the ultimate winners. Freya and Sophia of “Team Sopya” from Blundell’s School in Tiverton were finally congratulated as the winners of the USC 2019! Their invention was a coffee machine which aims to eradicate the need for throwaway cups, by using infrared technology that reads the volume of reusable cups and fills them up to the required level. The judges were impressed by the girls’ use of cutting-edge technology and coding, but also by their passion and drive to create a more sustainable world for years to come.
BP Educational Service has been running for over fifty years and provides free teaching resources for primary and secondary aged children. The Ultimate STEM Challenge will be back next academic year (2019/2020) and entries will be accepted from September 2019. For further information and to register for free resources visit bpes.bp.com.