Three students sitting in a row looking at computer monitors with a mentor helping one of the students

Collaborate with a small team to develop an innovative solution to a real-world problem on this hybrid programme.

At a glance

  • Application dates
    • Open: 9 January 2024
    • Close: 6 March 2024
    • Decisions: 3 May 2024
  • Programme overview
    • Dates: 25-28 June 2024
    • Format: Hybrid
    • For year 11 students
    • Eligibility criteria apply

About STEM Challenge

The Online STEM Challenge is a four-day hybrid programme designed to give participants the opportunity to apply their STEM knowledge to solve a real world problem. Focused on how different STEM subjects interlink, participants will use their knowledge of different subjects to creatively develop solutions to the problem posed by our Academic Leader.

We are looking for participants who are enthusiastic about STEM, are willing to work in a small team online and excited to develop a broader understanding of how STEM subjects effectively work together.

Applications for the Online STEM Challenge closed on 6 March 2024. Late applications cannot be considered.

What to expect

This is a four-day programme. You’ll spend the first three days working with your team online, and on the final day, you’ll visit our campus in South Kensington. 

On your first day, you’ll meet the Academic Leader and be presented with the challenge and a set of supporting resources. You’ll also meet your fellow team members and the mentor who’ll be supporting you throughout the challenge.

Your timetable will include sessions for you to work on your project with your group as well as opportunities for you to meet researchers and/or individuals from industries related to the challenge. You'll also have the chance to get to know like-minded students from around the UK, explore the benefits of going to university and ask our student ambassadors about their experiences.

On day four, you'll travel to Imperial to meet your team and your mentor. After some final tweaks of your presentation, and a chance to explore the campus, you'll pitch your solution to a panel of judges. The panel will judge the teams on their idea and presentation, with the winning team receiving a prize.

Please note, there may be some pre-reading required two weeks ahead of the summer school.

This summer school is fully funded (free to successful applicants), which includes all course fees, materials and lunch during the day on campus. Travel is not included. If your application is successful and you think your participation in this summer school will not be possible due to the costs associated with travel to and from our campus, please get in touch with the programme team no less than two weeks before the start date, and they will be happy to discuss these circumstances with you.

Feedback from previous participants

Challenge yourself

"I expected the summer school to be extremely difficult, however the level of challenge was nice, it didn't feel as though I was being overstretched which made it enjoyable."

Aaron, Y11 Online STEM Challenge participant 2023

Develop your skills and confidence

"I learnt so much about a new topic, electric cars, but more importantly I developed research and presentation skills. My confidence definitely improved through the program and I was able to make amazing new friendships and have lots of fun too!"

Maisha, Y11 Online STEM Challenge participant 2023

Have fun and make friends

"I did not expect to make as many new friends, but this experience allowed me to come out of my comfort zone and socialise."

Salma, Y11 Online STEM Challenge participant 2023

Applicant information

To apply for the Y11 Online STEM Challenge, you must:

  • be in Year 11 at the time of application
  • be studying at a non-fee paying school in the UK
  • be able to travel to campus for the final day of the programme

This outreach programme is funded by Imperial College London and aims to support students from backgrounds under-represented at university and Imperial. We can only consider applications from students currently attending non-fee paying schools in the UK who meet at least one of the eligibility criteria. The more criteria you meet, the more likely you are to be offered a place.

 We recommend using our eligibility checker tool to see if you are eligible to apply.

 We will prioritise your application if:

  • You have been in care
  • You live independently (estranged), meaning you no longer have the support of your family due to a breakdown in the relationship which has led to ceased contact

 We will also assess whether:

  • You are eligible for free school meals and/or pupil premium
  • Your family income is below £50,000 each year
  • Your parents/guardians did not attend university
  • Your school has a high percentage of students receiving free school meals
  • Your school has below average attainment
  • You live in a neighbourhood with low overall progression rates to higher education (POLAR4 Quintile 1 or 2 areas) or high levels of deprivation (IMD Quintile 1 areas)
  • You are a young carer*

* A young carer is someone under 18 years of age who helps look after a close relative who has a condition such as a disability, long-term illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol dependency. They do extra jobs in and around the home, such as cooking, cleaning, or helping someone get dressed and move around.

For this programme, you should:

  • Expect to study science and maths in your post-16 studies
  • Be studying at least eight GCSEs (or equivalent)
  • Be on track to achieve a minimum of five GCSEs at grades 7-9, including maths and sciences
  • Be on track to achieve a minimum of a grade 5 in GCSE English Language 


Applications for summer 2024 closed on 6 March. Late applications cannot be considered. We will release decisions on 3 May.

Applications are made through Aspire, our online application system. A link to Aspire will be added to this webpage once applications are open.

Setting up your account

You'll need to create an account with Aspire before you can complete your application.

  • If you have applied to an Imperial Outreach programme in the past, you can use your existing account. There is a forgotten password feature on the Aspire login page.
  • If this is your first application to one of our programmes, we recommend you use a personal email address rather than a school email address when creating your account. Security settings in some school email servers will prevent you from receiving emails from Aspire.
Completing your application

Once you are logged in you will need to start a new application. As part of the application form you will need to tell us about your school, the subjects you are currently studying and the course(s) you plan to study post-16. Although the form will force you to include English, Maths and Science for Key Stage 4 (GCSE or equivalent) and ask you if you are planning on studying specific STEM subjects post-16, you do need to tell us about all the subjects you are studying at school. Please use the 'Other subjects' section to add this information.

Please make sure you select the right programme when using the drop-down options. Some of our programmes have similar names, so double-checking is important.

You will be asked questions relating to the eligibility criteria listed above. Where possible, please try to have this information to hand before you apply. You will also be asked to write a short personal statement. This gives you the chance to tell us more about why you are applying for this programme and what you hope to get out of the experience.

As part of the application process, we will seek references from a parent/guardian and a teacher at your current school. Please speak to the individuals you would like to provide these references in advance, so you can check you have the correct email address and contact numbers for them and that they are happy to support your application.


Once you have successfully submitted your application, we will email your parent/guardian and teacher referees. They will be sent a personalised link to Aspire, where they will provide information to support your application.

The reference forms ask similar questions about the eligibility criteria and include the opportunity to provide a supporting statement. These statements can be used to let us know about other challenges you may have faced and/or what you might get out of participating in the programme. Teachers will also be asked to verify the subject/grade information you provided in your application.


We will release decisions via email on 3 May 2024. If you are offered a place on the programme, or on the waitlist, you will have a limited amount of time to accept this offer and send back your conditional documents. Successful applicants will receive details on the next steps.

For information about the application process, please see our application FAQs.

Y11 STEM Challenge promo

Students in Year 11 STEM summer school

"I would urge all students who are considering applying to do so. I found the application process itself to be very helpful, as it made me reflect on myself and helped me realise what I wanted in life. The summer school was amazing and I know that it has helped shape my future choices. I also didn't feel like I missed out on anything by doing the programme online."

— Oyinkan, year 11 student, STEM Challenge 2020

Contact us

For more information, please see our Outreach Programme FAQs.

If your query is not answered in the FAQs, please email us via or phone +44 (0) 20 7594 3575.

Want to stay up to date with Imperial outreach events? Click on the links below to follow us on our social media sites and follow the hashtag, #icoutreach