STEM Competitions go Live!

Colchester Zoo

We’re delighted that this year’s Colchester Zoo Engineering Competition and our Build a Bridge Competition have seen record numbers of schools registering to take part. 

In the last few weeks we got schools and industry partners together to launch the two competitions. Some readers will be aware too that we also work in partnership with ADS to deliver the fantastic annual Build a Rocket Challenge. If your school hasn’t registered for the challenge as yet but might like to, we’ve got a little more info later in this article to help you out too.

On the 1st of November we launched our Build a Bridge Competition here at County Hall. The competition challenges students (years 8, 9, 10) to construct a bridge using only wooden sticks and glue. They are then invited to a competition day (in December) where their bridges will be balanced on a rig with increasingly large weights suspended from them – the longest standing bridge wins the challenge!  Michael Balletta from the Institution of Civil Engineers explained the competition in more detail to attendees, and also brought along two types of bridges, one that failed to balance correctly on the rig, and therefore snapped easily when weights applied, and another that successfully balanced. We’re hugely thankful to AECOM, TES2000 and Flaktwoods who have agreed to supply mentors to support school teams across the county, offering students their technical knowhow and assistance throughout the design and testing process. The finale is being held at Stanway School in Colchester, in mid-December, and we can’t wait to see how schools got on!

Our Launch for Colchester Zoo Project took place on the 17th October at the Zoo itself. Representatives at the Zoo, Katie and Andy, gave a short presentation about the brief, which is to design a programmable feeding device for the Chimpanzee enclosure. Schools will return for a ‘competition day’ in the Summer to present their prototype to a panel of judges who will then select the winner. Once again, teams are benefiting from fantastic industry support from representatives of the likes of Flaktwoods and TES2000 but we’re still on the look-out for additional industry mentors to help students in the design and build of their exciting prototype. If you’d like to find out more information about how you can get involved, please contact

There are currently kits still remaining for school leads to reserve for the upcoming UKRoC ADS Build a Rocket Competition. For those who are new to the competition, students are tasked with designing, building and then launching a model rocket with a fragile payload. The rocket must reach a set altitude and stay in the sky for a specific length of time, or as close to both as possible!. If you’re interested and would like to find out more information please get in touch with the team at

The launch dates for Build a Rocket are the 3rd December and 11th December from 4-5pm taking place at County Hall, Chelmsford. We're very grateful that John Jacomb, our rocket espert, will be leading the presentation and will also be available to answer any questions that you may have. If you’d like to book a place please email David Stroud: