Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Ultimate STEM Challenge!

Young scientists from Walton Priory School wowed the judges during the USC 2018 final.

On the 12 of March, we held the final for the Ultimate STEM Challenge, a nationwide competition where students offer solutions to three different STEM-themed challenges. During the final, twelve teams from all over the UK presented their hard work to an expert judging panel. The teams then shared their research and experiments in a science fair, showing off their posters and prototypes to students, teachers, STEM ambassadors and a host of stakeholders from the world of STEM education.

When all the hard work was done, all finalist teams also participated in day of fun science activities, including trying out virtual reality headsets, and suggesting their own ideas to make STEM education appealing to children.

This year’s competition theme – My Sustainable Future – challenged the students to develop solutions to one of three real-world challenges: Handy Hydro, Parched Plants or Brilliant Biogas. All the challenges were designed to encourage students to think about how they could help to reduce natural resource use or bring down greenhouse gas emissions.

Walton Priory’s winning solution focused on the use of a waterwheel and dam – the students even conducted a series of experiments with a prototype in a local stream. The team won an Ultimate STEM Experience day, £500 to spend on science equipment or field trips, as well as Science Museum goodies.

Three student teams were also rewarded for their innovative thinking and ability to bring their projects to life. Colyton Grammar and InterHigh Education won the ‘Highly Commended’ awards, while Oakhill College were awarded ‘Best Stand’.

Eve, part of the winning team, said:

“We’re all so exhilarated to have won! When you see talent shows on TV, you don’t know how you will react when you win, but now we know!

“The best part of our experience was designing and building the prototype to test in the stream. We knew we wanted to be practical and get our hands dirty, but we also loved presenting today and meeting all the other competitors.

“I only joined our school’s STEM Club in September, and I’m really glad I did because we get to run our own projects and work independently.”


Gordon Taylor, STEM technician at Walton Priory, said:

“Both the team and the school have worked really hard, so winning today is a fantastic reward for everybody’s effort. Resilience is a big part of the reason why we won, the team had some knockbacks along the way but they remained optimistic throughout and didn’t give up.

“The day the prototype worked for the first time was a great moment because it created excitement all throughout the school. That enthusiasm has spread quickly, so we’ve grown the STEM Club by three times already.

“Giving these students different experiences with science, and bringing them face-to-face with female engineers as positive role models, has given them a truly memorable experience.”


Ian Duffy, bp’s Head of UK Communications and Community Development, said:

“This year bp is celebrating the fifty-year anniversary of its support for STEM education in the UK, and we’re also a proud partner of the Year of Engineering 2018. Our long-term ambition has been to address the STEM skills gap through targeted investment at all levels of education, so it’s a pleasure to be at the Ultimate STEM Challenge final today, celebrating the achievements of these inspirational young people from schools around the country.

“By showing students how engineers make a difference to the world through solutions to real-world problems, we can encourage more young people to pursue STEM studies now and in the future.”

Yvonne Baker, Chief Executive of STEM Learning, said:

“The creativity and enthusiasm that students bring to the Ultimate STEM Challenge every year is truly inspiring, and that has been particular true at this year’s final. We hope that all schools and STEM Clubs will continue to take advantage of the support available from STEM Ambassadors. We want to see more young people engaged in STEM study and engaging with science-related career paths, so it’s a pleasure to see these schools continue to grow their enthusiasm for science.”


Chris Hillidge, the competition’s teacher judge, Director of STEM and Specialist Leader of Education at Beamont Collegiate Academy in Warrington, said:

“We had a brilliant day with the Ultimate STEM Challenge finalists. This competition is a great way to encourage young people to engage with STEM and the array of careers you can access by studying STEM subjects. All the students here today deserve a lot of credit for their enthusiasm, innovation and teamwork.”

Winners: Aimee, Eve, Jenny and Megan.

"The enthusiasm has spread quickly, so we’ve grown the STEM Club by three times already." Gordon Taylor, Walton Priory

"When you see talent shows on TV, you don’t know how you will react when you win, but now we know!" Eve

Students tried virtual reality technology.