3M Young Innovators Challenge – coming soon for 2022!

We are planning to hold the 3M Young Innovators Challenge in 2022 for primary schools with a welcome return to face-to-face judging and presentation events, subject to government Covid-19 guidelines in force at the time.

Watch this space for further information. If you are a Year 3-6 primary school teacher or Science Coordinator in Leicestershire, South Nottinghamshire, Bracknell Forest or Wokingham and would like to be added to our mailing list for further information, please send your details to younginnovators@mmm.com

AeroTech Challenge

Leicestershire / South Nottinghamshire

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: Leicestershire and South Nottinghamshire 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: 25 March 2021

Virtual judging: 21, 22 and 23 April 2021 by Microsoft Teams meeting. Please indicate your preferred judging date/time on the entry form.

Entries will be screened to ensure they meet the entry criteria. Entrants, supported by their teacher, should make a video of maximum 5 minutes length which should capture the different stages of their project - initial brainstorming of ideas, background research, prototype development, design and decoration, testing and problem solving. The video should include testing and measuring of the distance travelled by the aircraft in line with the instructions in the Testing section. The video should be submitted in advance of the judging session. Students should also prepare a PowerPoint presentation of up to ten minutes length on their background research, STEM leaning about aircraft design and factors affecting flight, design experimentation, prototyping and construction process. The students will deliver their presentation via Microsoft Teams meeting to the judges, to help develop confidence, communication and presentation skills. The judges will ask questions about the aircraft, launching device and STEM learning. All members of a team should take part in the presentation.

Please make sure 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 should be done indoors wherever possible to avoid the effect of windspeed on distance travelled. Please mark a launch line on the floor and place the launching device behind this. Launch the aircraft three times and measure the longest distance out of three attempts in metres and centimetres. Measure the distance travelled in a straight line from the 'launch line' to the nearest point of the aircraft. Any extra distance gained by the aircraft skidding along the ground should not be counted. Remember to film the testing and measuring as part of the video summary.

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 and video

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 virtual 3M Young Innovators Challenge presentation event on Thursday 10 June, 2021.

£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

  • Make

  • 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 younginnovators@mmm.com.

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


    • Jennifer Glover

      Jennifer Glover

      Jennifer Glover is in her final year of a PhD at Loughborough University, researching jet engine noise reduction through sound proofing panels. Jennifer has a Masters’ degree in Aeronautical Engineering; has reached engineering technician level in the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and is an associate fellow of Higher Education. She is a very active member of the Women’s Engineering Society being the Student Liaison Officer and a member of both the Membership and Communication Director's committees. As a STEM Ambassador, Jennifer is passionate about encouraging all into engineering; promoting a better understanding of what engineers do; and inclusivity for minorities, including women and those with neurodiversity. Jennifer herself has dyslexia, autism and Meares-Irlen Syndrome.

    • Chris Bishop

      Chris Bishop

      Chris Bishop is a Principal Project Engineer at Kindeva Drug Delivery. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1998 with a Masters’ degree in Engineering and managed engineering projects for 3M before moving to Kindeva. A Chartered Engineer and STEM Ambassador, Chris enjoys delivering maths and engineering-based activities in primary schools, and lives in Loughborough with his wife and two young children.