AeroTech Challenge


  • AeroTech Challenge

    What's it about?

    Our exciting primary Challenge will really get your pupils into blue sky thinking! Working as individuals or small teams of 2-5, students should design and construct an aircraft within a maximum weight limit and develop a launching device to propel it forwards to cover the greatest distance from the launch point. With marks for background research, innovative design development, prototyping, aesthetics and distance covered, the sky’s the limit with the AeroTech Challenge!

    The aims of the Challenge:

    • To design and build an aircraft with a maximum weight of 250g, to be launched by a launching device no more than 1 metre in height, width or length. The furthest distance travelled by the aircraft, unaided, will be measured in a straight line from the launch point
    • Encourage problem-solving, team work, creativity and resilience using a process of ‘design, build, test, repeat’
    • Support STEM learning into push and pull forces, gravity, air resistance, aerodynamics and material properties


    Eligible school year groups: Years 3-6.


    Entries accepted from: Individuals or teams of 2-5 students. Schools may submit a maximum of 3 entries for the Challenge. Teams may be mixed year group.

    Open to: Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Authority Schools, Academies and Private Schools. Home-educated children may also participate. See our Terms and Conditions.

  • British Science Association CREST Awards

    CREST Discovery Awards

    3M will pay for entries for the AeroTech Challenge to be submitted for a British Science Association CREST Discovery Award. See our Terms and Conditions. Please indicate your consent on the Entry Form.

Important Dates

Closing date for entries: 24 March 2022

Judging: 17, 18 and 19 May 2022 at 3M Centre, Cain Road, Bracknell. Please indicate your preferred date/time on the entry form.

Entries will be screened to ensure they meet the entry criteria. Students will be asked to deliver a presentation of up to ten minutes length on their background research, STEM learning about aircraft design and factors affecting flight, design experimentation, prototyping and construction process. The judges will ask questions about the aircraft, launching device and STEM learning. All members of a team should take part in the presentation.

The judges will check that (i) the aircraft and launching device are only made from materials from the Materials List (ii) the aircraft does not exceed the weight limit (iii) the launching device does not exceed the maximum dimensions. Flight testing will be done indoors to avoid the effect of windspeed on distance travelled. The judges will mark a launch line on the floor and place the launching device behind this. Entrants will be invited to launch their aircraft three times. The distance travelled will be measured in metres and centimetres in a straight line from the 'launch line' to the nearest point of the aircraft on landing. Any extra distance gained by the aircraft skidding along the ground will not be counted. The longest distance of the three flights be used for judging puposes.

Mark Scheme

Up to 30 marks for the distance covered by the aircraft

Up to 20 marks for STEM learning into aircraft design and factors affecting flight including forces, gravity and resistance

Up to 20 marks for design and construction including material experimentation, prototyping, design modifications and overcoming problems and challenges

Up to 15 marks for visual appearance/aesthetics of the aircraft

Up to 15 marks for the presentation

Total marks available = 100

The students’ year group will be taken into account when awarding marks.

Judges will select 4-6 finalists who will be invited to attend the 3M Young Innovators Challenge presentation event on Friday 17 June, 2022.

£750 of science equipment for school use plus a £50 gift voucher for the winning individual or team member. All finalists and their schools will receive a framed certificate.

All entrants will receive a certificate of entry and personalised feedback from the judges.
Curriculum links

Links to Science Curriculum (England)

Year 3

Forces and magnets

  • compare how things move on different surfaces

Year 5


  • explain that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting between the Earth and the falling object
  • identify the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction, that act between moving surfaces
  • recognise that some mechanisms, including levers, pulleys and gears, allow a smaller force to have a greater effect

Links to Design and Technology Curriculum (England)

Key stage 2

When designing and making, pupils should be taught to:


  • generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through discussion, annotated sketches, cross-sectional and exploded diagrams, prototypes, pattern pieces and computer-aided design


  • select from and use a wider range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks [for example, cutting, shaping, joining and finishing], accurately
  • select from and use a wider range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their functional properties and aesthetic qualities

Technical knowledge

  • apply their understanding of how to strengthen, stiffen and reinforce more complex structures

Links to Mathematics Curriculum (England)

  • Measures of distance, mass and angle, scale drawing, 2D and 3D shapes

Important documents to download

Please download these important documents for the AeroTech Challenge. Please save the entry form to your device and send as a file attachment to

If you have any questions, please Get in Touch.
Please see our Terms and Conditions.


  • Billy Brady

    Billy Brady

    Billy Brady is a lead Application Engineering specialist at 3M. He has a degree in Electronic Engineering from the University of Limerick and has more than 30 years of experience working across different industries including Transportation, Energy and Electrical markets specialising in high strength foam tapes. Outside of work his passion is gliding and he has competed in numerous national and international competitions. He is delighted to be judging the AeroTech Challenge and looking forward to examining the creative aeronautical projects that the competition will uncover.

  • Richard Putland

    Richard Putland

    Richard Putland is a Process Engineer. Having a degree in Chemical Engineering, he applies maths, physics and chemistry to industrial processes, solving problems and designing solutions. He manages a team of process engineers in design projects ranging from oil refineries and chemical production plants, to carbon capture and power generation. Richard has worked in different parts of the world, requiring travel to countries such as China, Korea and Saudi Arabia, as well as Europe.