Galactic Challenges are one-day events for students in Years 5 – 9, generally held on a Saturday from 09:00 – 17:00. In these competitions, students are placed in teams, and spend the day creating a presentation following a Press Release from the Foundation Society, which answers a Request for Proposal (RFP).
Schools looking to host a Galactic Challenge can enjoy an opportunity to market their school, raising their profile with their feeder schools and give their own students the opportunity to develop mentoring skills by leading the teams.
Our ambition is as large as the name suggests, we seek to make the Galactic Challenge the ‘go-to’ event that schools will want their students to be involved with, because it will challenge their imagination and inspire them to pursue science and maths subjects throughout their education.
What 11 year-old would not want to design their own Millennium Falcon? How many 12 year-olds have imagined what it might be like to live on Mars? Engaging children in the Galactic Challenge is like pushing a rock downhill, it requires the smallest of pushes and they are off and running, developing skills that they, and most certainly their teachers and parents, often had no idea they possessed.
The structure of the Galactic Challenge is designed to take students outside of their comfort zone. It is set typically 50-70 years in the future and the students are placed into teams with students from other schools so that no one school dominates a team and their first task is to discover which of them is willing to take leadership positions, without knowing three quarters of their team!
We use experienced mentors and older students (17/18 year-olds) to mentor the young students, provide them with a hint sheet and a check list to help them complete their proposal, but after that, they are essentially left to their own devices. Their teachers are only there to observe and even when they ask their team mentors a question, they are likely to receive another question rather than a direct answer in response.
Over the course of 4-5 hours, students learn more soft skills than they might in a year, be that leadership, communication, teamwork, research or presentation skills, all in the context of a science and engineering project that will leave them buzzing and eager to learn more.
Teachers who accompany the teams remark that they had no idea their students were capable of working in such an unstructured environment, where there are no teachers involved, that they ‘don’t work well in groups at school’, that they were ‘worried that they would not mix well with students from other schools and 30 minutes in I can’t tell which school they are from!’
"For a Senior School, it is a wonderful opportunity to host a Galactic Challenge event. The content of the day excites both boys and girls from Years 5 through 8, and we have been bursting at the seams every year. We began with fifty pupils three years ago and now hosted over eighty pupils at our last event. It is an ideal way to show off our school for prospective pupils, and also their parents, who join them for the presentations.
It also gives our senior pupils the opportunity to develop key skills of leadership, decision making, problem solving and having responsibility. They are tasked with leading the teams and it is an immense challenge for them too.
I thoroughly recommend hosting a Galactic Challenge and it is a permanent fixture on our calendar." Senior School Registrar
Welcome to the Galactic Challenge, an extraordinary learning experience for young students.
So, what is the Galactic Challenge all about?
The year is 2087, and settlements fit for human habitation are springing up throughout our galaxy. The Foundation Society is leading the race in space innovation and wants your ideas to improve these growing colonies. (nb The Foundation Society is a mythical society, and you will be working in a mythical company.)
What do I need to know?
The joy of taking part in a Galactic Challenge, (GC), is that you will be working in a team, and so anything you know will add to the pool of knowledge that your company has at its disposal. Any scientific, mathematical or general knowledge that you have from school, or from your own interests, will add to that collective information, any skills you have will be put to best use.
What skills will I need?
Some people will be good at drawing, or making designs on the computer. Other people will have good ideas about buildings, or robots, or transport. Others will be good at finding information from the internet, or reading through the list of requirements that the Foundation Society give you. Maybe you are good at making power point presentations, or even at giving presentations. There is a lot to do, and everyone just pitches in with the things they do best, and because you are working in a team, there is always someone to help out if you need it. Although you will be put into an engineering specialism, this is a group work effort, and you will all have to help each other.
I have no idea what engineers do!
What don’t engineers do! Engineers are problem solvers. They use their scientific and mathematical knowledge to solve problems, and that is exactly what you will do. One major difference with being a GC engineer is that some of the scientific discoveries you will be finding applications for, won’t actually have been discovered yet. This means that if your basic science and mathematics are correct, you can add some fantastical ideas to them….and no-one can say you are wrong!
“I didn’t realise engineering was so much fun!” Toby, GC participant 2018
“It was exciting to think about designing for the future rather than just thinking of ideas to help us as we live now, and it presented new challenges as we had to think outside the box” ( GC Partcipant 2017)
“I really enjoyed being Head of Structures, it enabled me to take charge and I liked how I was responsible to connect with other Heads of Department” – Henry Belk, participant, 2017
For more responses to the GC see What People Have to Say
Helping build technology and engineering companies that really work in the modern world
The students you sponsor in the Galactic Challenge will become your most treasured employees in the future. Make no mistake the students expand their horizons at the Galactic Challenge. They become excited about working as a team, seeing how companies and industry works. Learn Ghant Charts and costing. And they do it all on their own. They learn something that is all to rare - both in industry and society - critical thinking. Thinking outside the box, coming up with creative solutions. As the students go through school, progress as mentors, enter the senior Space Design Competition, university, internships and then to helping you build the companies that really work in the modern world. They will never forget the people they meet, the friends they make or the companies that helped them in their early life. Becoming a sponsor is not a one way street. It is as good for you as it is for the young designers and explorers of tomorrow.