Science Competitions in the UK

Students, young scientists, inventors, engineers, technologists and others interested in science and engineering can participate in a number of science competitions, many of which have grown into annual events and each year offer more and better awards for the best projects. Some of the best known science competitions in the UK include:

  • The National Science + Engineering Competition. A part of the annual Big Bang Fair, the National Science + Engineering Competition is open to full-time students (ages 11-18 years) who compete for more than 30 awards in science, technology, engineering and maths. All Finalists of the Competition present their projects at the Big Bang Fair which attracts 70,000+ visitors, while the winners are declared at a solemn award-giving ceremony which is held during the Fair as well.

  • Young Engineers Competitions. These are organised by the educational charity Young Engineers which seeks to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and motivate young people to pursue education and career in STEM. To do that, the charity runs a variety of activities and events but it also runs a series of competitions which are open to all students attending the UK primary and secondary schools.

  • Sci-Tech Challenge. Just like other science competitions, the Sci-Tech Challenge was launched with an aim to promote STEM education and careers to young people, and is held in nine European countries including the UK. Open to students aged 15 to 18, the Sci-Tech Challenge also includes the National Challenges which foresee solving specific issues/challenges. The programme is run by the Junior Achievement Young Enterprise in partnership with ExxonMobil.

  • The RCSU Science Challenge. This science communication competition has been held annually since 2007. Run and organised by the Royal College of Science Union, the Science Challenge also teaches young scientists of the importance of communicating science to the public and helps them develop the necessary skills to effectively communicate scientific issues to the public. The Challenge is open for all Imperial and secondary school students in the UK.

  • SET for BRITAIN. The goal of this poster competition is to promote STEM as well but it differs from most science competitions in that it is intended for early-career researchers, scientists, engineers and mathematicians. In addition to competing for awards in five categories - biology, chemistry, maths, physics and engineering - the best works are also displayed in the House of Commons. The SET for BRITAIN was first organised in 1997 and was held annually until the death of its founder Dr. Eric Wharton in 2007. In 2009, it was revived as an annual competition.