The 3M Young Innovators Challenge competition is returning after a break of two years, offering a practical, fun way for primary school pupils to learn about STEM.
For 2022 there will be three challenges for primary school pupils based close to the Bracknell and Loughborough offices – the AeroTech challenge, the Mighty Monument Challenge and the Slo-Mo Marble Challenge - with schools able to submit up to three entries for each one.
As well as the chance to compete for the top prizes of £750 worth of equipment for their school and a £50 gift voucher for individuals, all participants are entered into the British Science Association’s CREST Award scheme, earning them a nationally recognised accreditation, funded by 3M. All entrants will also be sent a 3M Young Innovators certificate and positive, personalised, judges’ feedback.
Speaking about the return of the competition, 3M Corporate Communications manager, Ros Smith, said: “It is exciting to be back and we hope to run the competition in all its glory in 2022, with in person judging and live celebration events. However, we will be mindful of the Covid-19 situation and switch to virtual judging if necessary.”
This year, five new 3M judges have joined the panel and join external judges from the worlds of academia, industry and education, including STEM Learning Limited, the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board, Loughborough-based Kindeva Drug Delivery and LEBC, the Leicestershire Education Business Company.
The judges will assess the entries in pairs, awarding marks for design and construction, performance, STEM learning, the presentation given by the pupils and style and aesthetics.
Nicky Bradley is an Automotive Application Engineering manager from 3M who will be judging the Mighty Monument Challenge for Bracknell together with Dr Ajay Sharman from STEM Learning. She says: “We need more people working in STEM and we need more diversity. The competition is designed to show pupils that STEM is for everyone and open the door to them taking these subjects further. I’m really looking forward to working with the pupils as their enthusiasm and creativity tends to rub off.”
Michael Massey is a global Application Engineer who works for 3M’s Automotive Aftermarket Division and he will be judging the AeroTech Challenge for Loughborough, together with Jennifer Glover, a graduate acoustic consultant at AECOM and PhD student in Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University.
Says Michael: “This competition offers much more than the average science or maths project. The development of soft skills, such as teamwork and communication, combined with hands-on experiments and experiences of success and failure will help to shape the pupils for the future. I’m delighted to be involved as a Young Innovators judge and am really looking forward to seeing the ideas that the pupils present and being part of their journey.”
The challenges have been designed to align to different areas of the STEM primary curriculum and inspire young people’s interest in these subjects from an early age. They also support diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM by engaging pupils from diverse backgrounds; demonstrate how STEM subjects impact the ‘real world’; and help to develop creativity, confidence, team-working, organisation and presentation skills.
A new challenge for 2022 is to design and build an aircraft - such as an aeroplane, jet, glider, bi-plane or rocket - as well as a launching device to propel it forward to cover the greatest distance, using only materials from a given list. This challenge supports STEM learning into forces, gravity, aerodynamics and material properties and is linked to the science and Design and Technology (DT) curriculum.
Mighty Monument Challenge
This popular returning challenge also has an engineering theme and supports STEM learning by encouraging the participants to explore structures, forces, stability, gravity and material properties. Pupils are asked to design and construct a lightweight free-standing structure, from materials on a given list, to hold as much load as possible (up to a maximum of 10kg). The structure can be themed on an existing world monument, or be an original design to honour a person or event relevant to the school’s locality, so it supports the primary geography curriculum as well as being linked to science and DT.
Slo-Mo Marble Challenge
A long-term favourite challenge for primary schools that explores forces and magnets, gravity, energy, friction, gradient and material properties and involves building a marble run using only materials from a given list. Pupils are asked to maximise the time taken by a standard glass marble to roll from the top to the bottom, incorporating at least three methods of slowing the marble’s descent.
The closing date for the 2022 competition is 24 March, with judging taking place from 10-26 May. The awards will be presented at events held in Bracknell and Loughborough on 17 June.