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Our STEAM Challenge – a Special Project

SI Bournemouth’s STEAM Challenge for Girls in Years 8 and 9

The STEAM Challenge is now in its tenth year and continues to attract interest from the engineering world. The challenge is for girls only in order to promote participation and raise aspirations in industries that young women often see as masculine and not for them. The project links to the United Nations SDGs 5 (gender inequalities) and 10 (reducing inequality).

Why this challenge? 

It is nationally and internationally recognized that there is a shortage of girls choosing STEAM subjects as degrees, and a growing body of evidence about barriers to subsequent careers. We have created this challenge to inspire girls and encourage them to overcome these barriers.

We challenge the girls to create a solution to help people in the poorest parts of our world



Idea and design needs to be:

  • Sustainable – energy and materials affordable with minimal impact upon the environment
  • Fit for its intended purpose

Think about:

  • What problem your solution is going to help overcome?
  • Who is going to benefit from your solution?
  • How and where it is to be used?
  • How many people is it going to help? 

Teams consist of:

  • Up to 5 girls in a team
  • Schools may enter as many teams as would like to participate

Required elements:

  • The design brief outlining the perceived need
  • Evidence of research into possible solutions
  • A plan of the final project
  • A demonstration model to support the plan with some indication of how it should be scaled up for its intended purpose
  • Demonstrate all elements of STEAM

Judging events

Judging is based on the process of the project rather than the accuracy of the final demonstration model and detailed judging criteria will be provided on entry.

The Challenge Timetable:

The Challenge starts in October annually which in the UK is shortly after the beginning of the new academic year. Girls then have until the end of February of the following calendar year to submit their completed project.  A team of judges from locally STEAM based industries volunteer their time at the Heats and the Finals which take place at Bournemouth University during March.

We are happy to help others replicate our STEAM Challenge. The documents CRITERIA and TIMELINE are examples of documents sent to schools for the 2018-2019 Challenge.

For further help and information in setting up your own STEAM Challenge please contact us via email at:

The project is in line with the values Soroptimist International:

  • Human rights for all
  • Global peace and international goodwill
  • Advancing women’s potential
  • Integrity and democratic decision making
  • Volunteering, diversity and friendship