Engineering groups launch Great Exhibition STEM challenge for locked down pupils

In a bid to encourage young innovators to continue their STEM learning activities during the current school shutdown the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Big Ideas have joined forces to create the The ‘Great Exhibition at Home’ challenge.

Kitchen tables around the UK have been temporarily requisitioned as classrooms. Image: Fabio Principe via

Inspired by the original Great Exhibition of 1851, The Great Exhibition at Home Challenge asks young people to explore how engineers can help protect the planet.


“Our everyday lives may have changed beyond recognition, but that’s all the more reason to offer engaging and meaningful content for young people, especially as schools are closing,” commented Dr Virginia Crompton, CEO of Big Ideas.

The Challenge is suitable for home-working or classroom, for primary or secondary ages, and can be completed alone or with friends. The challenge can be started at any time, but will be especially suited to providing an instructive, inspiring and fun activity during the summer term.

Through the challenge students throughout the UK are invited to take part in a seven-week project, culminating in a video. This final challenge asks students to create and share a Great Exhibition, wherever their classroom may be. Free resources are available and winning participants will receive £500 worth of equipment to supersize STEM subjects in their school, as well as other prizes to be announced soon.

Nigel Williams, Secretary of The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 said, “The Great Exhibition at Home Challenge is very much in the spirit of Prince Albert’s legacy. He would urge us to tackle the immediate challenges we face with the pandemic, but not to lose sight of the long-term goals. Prince Albert was a master of innovation and sought to promote it all his life, reminding us of the need to support and develop our young people and to nurture their curiosity. I am looking forward to seeing what young people today make of Albert’s story and the ways in which it will inspire them to create new inventions for 2020 and beyond.”

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, added, “Young people are natural engineers – creative, problem solving, adaptable. This is an amazing opportunity for them to think about how they might use engineering to help protect the planet and showcase their ideas, in the style of the famous Great Exhibition of 1851.

To receive a free copy of the Great Exhibition at Home resource pack and challenges for Week 1, sign up at