How to Improve Engagement in Science through Competition and the Gamification of Learning

Science is still regarded as one of the hardest subjects.  The OECD still report a significant STEM skills deficit in the UK – and unfortunately students know X Factor can be won without either.

But for over a decade, more than 98% of participating students – of all ability ranges, in all types of schools, from Australia to the UK – have raved about a particular approach that has changed their perception of not only science but of learning.  As a result, every host school has recommended it since 2001.

The secret has been to combine intriguing contexts and gamification strategies with curriculum content, all wrapped within a competition format.   It ensures activities, from redox reactions to electronics, are made relevant to each individual and generates huge amounts of engagement and enthusiasm.

In the ‘game’ it is a matter of life and death.  In reality, pupils truly respond.  And so do staff, particularly when they form a team to challenge the pupils.

Once you have the formula, you can positively change attitudes and improve performance levels.

The Real STEM Competition is designed to challenge up to 72 pupils in a day and demonstrate the approach to staff.  It runs until science week 2019 but could well be a valuable addition to your upcoming activity weeks and transition days, especially as there is a £1000 prize available for the winners, runner-up prizes and free activities for all host schools.  Furthermore, discounts are available if you host the workshop in July.

This year’s competition is called ‘Space Pioneers’ – reinforcing and expanding upon KS3 & KS4 curriculum content within a thrilling scenario about the colonisation of Mars.  With NASA, MarsOne and SpaceX all in a real-life race to Mars, the context has never been more relevant.

The workshop is delivered on the school site – so there is no travel required.  Up to six teams of six pupils can compete in a 2-2.5 hour session that is repeated for a different group after a short break.  The competition runs within the normal timings of your day to minimalise disruption to your timetable.  It can allow the school to really challenge the high achievers in one session and motivate those that need a gentle push in another as each session is carefully facilitated for the ability of the group.

To help with funding, you can receive a £100 discount if you host an event in July and quote the promotional code RSSP18 when booking.  It brings the cost down to less than £10 per pupil.

To find out more about the competition, logistics and prizes you can visit the website.

Alternatively, you can email or call 01603 520866 for further details.

Thinkers in Education also offer a range of CSI themed workshops in the same format, and whilst these are not part of the Real STEM Competition you can still benefit from the £100 discount by using the code RSSP18 for July events.  Plus, the discount applies to these workshops in September too – so it is a great way to motivate pupils at the start of the school year.

Take an idea and s-t-r-e-t-c-h it

Scroll down to get your FREE pdf download of Take an idea and s-t-r-e-t-c-h it from the popular resource, ‘Able Writers in Your School

It is not unlikely that your school has a sports team so that pupils’ who excel at sports can continue to practice and refine their sporting talents. But what for those who are talented at writing?

Brilliant Publications has developed Able Writers in Your School – a resource that will enable pupils who excel at writing to continue to practice and refine their writing talents, past the curriculum’s requirements.

Able Writers in Your School challenges children to raise the standard of their writing and turn their ideas into masterpieces through:

  • encouraging pupils to:
    • show rather than tell
    • stretch their ideas
    • use similes, metaphors and personification
    • utilise the power of simplicity – less is more
  • teaching pupils how to:
    • create a character and setting
    • develop plot and dialogue
    • add conflict and suspense
    • avoid clichés
    • improve descriptive writing

You can order Able Writers in Your School on our website for £14.50 as a printed book, £9.99 as an e-book, or both for a discounted price of £17.50.

Free UK delivery for all orders placed in April 

Alternatively, you can place an order:

  • over the phone on 01449 766629
  • by email to
  • by fax on 01449 767122
  • or by post to Brilliant Publications, Mendlesham Industrial Estate, Norwich Road, Mendlesham, Suffolk, IP14 5ND