The Shell Bright Ideas Challenge

The Shell Bright Ideas Challenge

The Press Release

With three out of four of us set to live in cities by 2050, The Bright Ideas Challenge invites students age 11-14 to imagine the types of energy challenges these cities might face and to use their STEM skills combined with ingenuity and creative thinking to imagine innovative solutions to those challenges.

The challenge offers a blank slate for creative thinking with students challenged to bring their ‘Bright Idea’ to life using prototypes, technical drawings and even video.

By leaving the challenge deliberately broad, Shell is hoping it will attract the widest range of students possible and not just those that ‘self-identify’ as scientists. It hopes that the competition will inspire more students to make the connection between STEM teaching and careers that make a positive difference to the world.

It has also been made deliberately achievable in scope – with the challenge able to be completed in as little as 2.5 hours, making it a perfect challenge for a class project, STEM enrichment day or STEM club.

The thinking behind the challenge:

With Engineering UK predicting that we have a current annual shortfall of 55,000 engineers the challenge has been designed to encourage students to put their STEM teaching to practical use to help them make the connection between their classroom learning and their ability to use STEM skills to make a real positive difference to our collective quality of life in the future.

What the Challenge offers teachers:

The Teacher Toolkit gives teachers:
– Introductory video material to inspire their students
– Bite size, curriculum linked ice breaker team challenges
– Discussion points around scientific innovations that can be used as inspiration for the challenge
– Bright Ideas Catalyst Cards to inspire class discussion
– A Bright Ideas Report template to provide guidance for entries

Why enter?

We’re wanting to encourage as many schools to enter this brand new schools competition as the prizes are amazing.

The overall winning school will win £5000 towards super-sizing their STEM lessons!
11 regional winners will each win £1500 towards super-sizing the STEM experience at their school, plus each winning team member will receive a top of the range tablet as well as tickets to visit the unique Make the Future Festival in London.

Make the Future

Make the Future is a four-day festival of innovation bringing together the brightest future energy and science ideas from around the world in a spectacular event that will take you on a trip into the future.

There students will be able to experience the most innovative ideas from around the world via interactive shows, experience and challenges. They will also be front row spectators at the unique Shell Eco Marathon – a global race that will bring together 500 students from 50 countries around the world in a race for hyper efficiency. Students race in self-designed and built ‘cars of the future’ in a battle to see who can travel furthest on a single litre of fuel! With the current record standing at 3771km the stakes are high!

Deadline for entries

The deadline for entries is a couple of weeks after the Easter holidays on Friday 29th April at 5pm so there’s still plenty of time to enter.

My thoughts

Thanks for the team who handle PR for Shell for getting in touch.  The challenge looks like a lot of preparation has gone into it but I’d argue that the timing is a little ill-conceived with most secondary teachers focussing on GCSE revision at the moment.  Fortunately the competition is for KS3 students and the materials provided for students will help remove some of the workload for teachers who take part in this event.

The icebreakers are worth checking out and I will be using some of these with my KS4 students after exams (I have to keep them until the end of the year). They are relatively straight forward and don’t require a huge amount of special resources.

The main activity is a little less practical and seems more geared towards academic students than those disengaged with learning or who have additional learning needs.  Of my two groups who fall within the age range, one is busy with BTEC and the other group would not respond well to this type of activity.  My situation isn’t the norm though and I would urge you to download the materials and consider if you could take part (especially if you have STEM clubs or a STEM day for which this activity is perfect).

Have you taken part already?  Do you intend to take part or is there a reason why you can’t/won’t participate?  I’d be interested to hear your comments

Head Squeeze–a resource for engaging students in STEM subjects

At Head Squeeze, James May and his crack team of sci-geeks, maths-nerds and tech-heads provide answers to all your burning questions. From everyday curiosities to the latest mind blowing discoveries; our experts break it down for you and give their own left-field insights, sideways interpretations and bizarre, entertaining facts.”

You can find the free resources from head squeeze here.

Listen to James May talk about Head Squeeze:


Examples of the type of video (that you might use with students)



If you visit and find the resources useful, tell them that I sent you!