New competition for secondaries: Microsoft STEM Student Challenge

I know, I know – the education world is awash with competitions. Stick with it, this one’s a little different and it looks like it could be genuinely fun… and also smart.

Microsoft Research in Cambridge are running a competition which builds on students’ knowledge of STEM subjects, but also on their research skills and particularly their imaginations. The challenge goes:

  1. Pick one of these themes:
    1. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality
    2. Data security
    3. Healthcare
  2. Now come up with an original technology idea which you think could exist in that field in 20 years’ time.
  3. Make a short film which showcases your idea.
  4. Submit the film.

Prizes and the experience for finalists look good, and there’s a clear information pack available at the challenge website. The competition’s open to teams of 4-6 students, in years 8-10.

What I like about this particular competition is that the central conceit is both accessible and clever. We all dream about what the future might bring, this is simply asking you to commit to (and describe) a specific vision. In doing so, you’ll have take what you know about STEM subjects and extrapolate that thinking twenty years into the future. This isn’t some well-intentioned-but-ham-fisted attempt to ‘make science relevant to our everyday lives,’ it’s an invitation to students to find the relevance for themselves. That’s clever.

Also, I’m a sucker for a schools’ STEM film competition.

The only thing I find a little surprising is that there’s no category for primary-age entrants. A pity for them, but also for the judges, who’ll miss out on genius like this. Ah well, maybe next year?

Anyway – secondaries: get your cameras out, sharpen your pencils, brush up on your tech skills and prop-making, and show us how the world’s going to be in 2037. Registration deadline is 8th December, with entries due by 10th February 2017.

 Microsoft STEM Student Challenge website.

Ooh, one last bit of advice: with our Technology Wishing Well we’ve collected about 800 wishes for future tech, from Maker Faire UK and Big Bang North-East. We haven’t yet done a proper analysis, but as a quick hint: lots of people want a flying robot dog which does their homework and tidies their room. Which would indeed be awesome, but you might not be the only entrants to suggest such a thing to this competition.

 

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