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National Scientific Thinking Challenge – FREE, ONLINE, Yr 10 Pupils

National Scientific Thinking Challenge

In 2021, a group of friends from 6 different university Chemistry Departments created a test for Year 10 students to try. It was the middle of the pandemic and learning had been horribly disrupted.

We work at Warwick, Southampton, Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester and Oxford Universities.

We wanted to encourage students and give them something positive and enjoyable to try at a difficult time.

Now, after more than 20,000 people have had a go, teachers and students have told us that they like the challenge and we looking forward to running it every year.

Here are the main things for you to know:

  • It is free of charge and will take place during the last week of April
  • We want this to be as inclusive as possible. Any type of school from anywhere in the UK is welcome to enter.
  • You can enter as many students as you wish from Year 10
  • Need to have groups doing the challenge at different times? see our FAQ
  • You have one week to complete the challenge during one science lesson. (The challenge takes 50 minutes to complete)
  • Your students will be allocated codes that only you will know (you have to allocate the codes to your students). Our software will identify students only by that code, not by name.
  • All of your students have to do the challenge at the same time (our software can prove that your students did not cheat)
  • You are sent a URL for the challenge that goes live at the start of “Challenge Week”.
  • The questions do not require recall of taught material. The students have to look at data, graphs and text and make deductions, spot trends, suggest hypotheses and identify anomalous results. You can try some for yourselves on this website.
  • The test is multiple choice and is taken online only. A laptop or PC is best but a tablet is fine and even a mobile phone can work.
  • We do not rank schools. That way, you can feel free to enter anyone who would like to have a go.
  • When all the schools have had a go, we rank the marks of all the students from all the schools in one population, we create a distribution curve for the marks and work out the mark thresholds for the top 10%, 25% and 40% of students who had a go.
  • You will get the marks back for your students and also you will be told the mark boundaries that mean a student is in the top 10%, 25% or 40% of entries. These are gold, silver and bronze, respectively.
  • You will also see a breakdown of the marks your students got for each question.
  • There are printable certificates for you to download if you would like to give them to your students.

Click on the link below to register:

National Scientific Thinking Challenge (

What Schools Say About Us

Being part of the Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Careers Hub has been pivotal to the development of careers provision in our school. The Hub have shared good practice across their members resulting in a stronger focus on good quality provision. The annual event enabled the hub to share their vision of School Improvement Through The Lens of Careers and looking beyond the Benchmarks. It was a fantastic opportunity to share different models of school improvement and strategies to further develop careers provision to enhance the future opportunities of our young people.

Mrs A Spencer, John Taylor High School

What Businesses Say About Us

It it superb to be able to speak with local schools, colleges, and businesses in Stoke and Staffs and show how important the partnerships are to bring the skills of the future. Educating those who educate the ones shaping the aspirations of young people is essential for the industry to grow and be more sustainable.”

Alison Tucker, St Modwen