Ultimate STEM Challenge

Find out what the judges are looking for in this year's Ultimate STEM Challenge entries

Judging criteria

To ensure you have the strongest entry possible, you should be able to show that your project meets all of the judging criteria. 

1. Is it STEM?

What the judges will look for

  • You can show the science behind your idea, or how you’ve applied real engineering or technology to your idea.
  • You can show the process you used and any data that helped you to decide on your solution, create, refine and test your idea.


Your idea involves better insulation for homes in very cold climates. You demonstrate how your solution uses your understanding of how heat energy can be transmitted via convection, conduction or radiation. You identify real insulating materials that you will use in your design, and find data online that helps you choose which will work best for your project.

2. Is there a prototype?

What the judges will look for

  • A physical model, a digital model, a mock-up, or other evidence that shows that your solution could actually work.
  • That you can show the process you used and any data that helped you to decide on your solution, create, refine and test your idea.
  • That you can demonstrate how your prototype has evolved from first idea to final entry.


  • Early rapid prototypes made from recyclable or junk materials
  • Early design sketches 
  • Finished prototypes: clay sculpted, 3D printed, made from wood, metal, plastic or other materials that are cut, joined and finished to resemble the final product (life size or to scale) 
  • 3D models produced using 3D design software 
  • Screen designs or wireframes of apps or computer programs, made with graphic design software (these should show screen content, menus, sections, interactivity, etc.)

Your prototype does not need to be a full, working model, but the more detail and realism, the better!

3. Does it help?

What the judges will look for

  • You can show that your idea solves a real problem.
  • You can explain who it will help and how it will improve their lives.


You can talk about any size or type of group group of people that could benefit from your idea, from an average family in the UK to someone in a less economically developed country, someone young or older than you or who lives in very different circumstances, or a person who lives with a disability.


4. Does it work?

What the judges will look for

  • The research you've done to find out what solutions already exist, and why your idea is an improvement.
  • That you’ve thought about the practical side (such as the cost, the time, or the environmental impact).
  • That you've considered health and safety and not used dangerous materials, equipment or processes. For more information please consult CLEAPSS guidance.


Perhaps you discover that a material that would perform the best is too expensive to make your solution affordable for most people. So you might identify a cheaper alternative which still provides the right material properties but at an affordable price.

Strong entries might also consider sustainability and how the environmental impact of your solutions are minimised.

Entries that use unsafe materials, equipment or methods will be disqualified. Check the terms and conditions for more information. 

5. Is it clear?

What the judges will look for

  • You can clearly explain the purpose of your project and how your solution works.
  • Diagrams, photos and/or video that help you communicate your ideas. 
  • A clear explanation of what you set out to achieve, and whether you achieved it.


Good presentations / videos will:

  • be easy to understand for someone seeing it for the first time
  • make good use of photos or videos that provide a detailed record of research, target audience, idea generation, design and prototyping
  • include clear, labelled diagrams and bring your ideas to life with good use of scientific or technical terms.
  • include enough detail to show how the idea is different to or better than existing solutions.
  • use correct spelling and grammar
  • have an appropriate, confident and positive tone.

6. Does it stand out?

What the judges will look for

  • You can show that your solution is original and creative.
  • Your idea is different from other current solutions.
  • Your entry shows your enthusiasm, personal interest in STEM and future aspirations.


The judges want to see your creative ideas that take existing innovations or scientific principles and use them in new, exciting and life-changing ways.

The judges will also want to see that you enjoyed the process of researching, developing and prototyping your ideas, and maybe even how you’ve been inspired to use STEM in your life. Including photos and videos of your team in action is a great way to give your presentation a personal touch and let make it stand out from the rest. 


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