How to enter

The Big Bang Competition is open to young people aged 11 to 18 in state-funded secondary education or who are home educated or who enter as part of a community group.

Young people attending independent or private schools, colleges or sixth forms are not eligible to enter The Big Bang Competition 2024. However, to support state-funded schools - joint entries can be submitted from teams comprising an equal number of independent school/partner state school students, via the state school entry.

Competitors can only enter one project into The Competition, either as an individual or as part of a team.

Please make sure you are eligible to enter The Competition before you start your entry. Have a look at our rules and eligibility for more details.

The information below is a guide for participants in the 2023/24 Competition. 

Key dates:

  • Online entry opens: October
  • Online entry closes: 5pm on Thursday 28 March
  • Public finalist announcement: Tuesday 7 May
  • Special Awards judging (virtual): Tuesday 7 May to Wednesday 15 May
  • VIP Judging (virtual): Wednesday 8 May to Thursday 9 May

Assessment criteria

One of the first things to consider when you start your project is our assessment criteria – the different things that our judges will consider when scoring your project. 

The main advice from judges is for competitors to provide as much relevant information as possible. We understand that recent restrictions may impact students’ ability to fully complete their projects and judges will bear this in mind when judging projects. 

The questions under each section are simply prompts to get you thinking about each step of your project, not a checklist! 

Familiarise yourself with the full criteria below: 

1. Project overview

This is the first-time judges will hear or read about your project. Judges will look for a few sentences summarising your overall project, including a brief but clear outline of your project aims, how you planned to achieve your project aims, your key results and conclusions, and how your work may impact the wider community/environment. 

2. Project concept

Judges will look for a clear project aim, your reason for choosing this area to focus on, and an understanding of the wider impact your work may have on the world. 

Consider the following questions:

  • What is the aim of your project? What are you hoping to find out? What problem are you looking to resolve? And why is it an important problem to solve? 
  • Why did you choose this project? Did you consider any other ideas? Who or what inspired you? 
  • What will you create, or what experiment will you design, to achieve your aim(s)?
  • Who might benefit from your work? What impact could your project have on the wider community/ the environment? 
3. Project process

Judges want to know how you carried out your project, any research that you carried out, how you planned and organised your time, your experimentation and refinement process. 

Consider the following questions:

  • Did you carry out any background research before planning your work? What did you find out from the research? 
  • What process and steps did you take to achieve your project aim? 
  • What different ideas or approaches did you consider to achieve your project aim?  Were there any barriers that stopped you from using the most suitable approach?
  • What are the benefits and negatives of the approach and method that you chose?
  • How will you know if your results support your project aim? If testing was not possible, how could you have tested and evaluated your results?
  • How did you plan your time and organise your work? If working as a team, how did you delegate tasks amongst yourselves? 
4. Project outcome

Judges will be looking for clear communication of results, and understanding of how your results support or challenge your project aims, and how your findings may impact the wider community/world. 

Consider the following questions:

  • What were your results? What did you find out, or what did you make by completing your project? 
  • Does your project outcome solve the problem you set out to tackle/meet your project aim? Did you discover anything new or unexpected? 
  • What conclusions can you make based on your results?
  • What impact could your results have on the wider community/world
  • What difficulties did you face during the project process and how did you / could you have gone around these?
  • If you were unable to complete your project as planned, what you would you have expected to see? 
5. Reflections and next steps

Judges will be looking to see your understanding of the product development life cycle or scientific process, what skills you feel you have developed during your project, for ways you can continue to build on your project work, things you might have done differently, and what you enjoyed. 

Consider the following questions: 

  • What did you learn whilst working on your project? 
  • If you had more time and resources, how might you take your project further? 
  • Could you bring your project to the commercial or industrial market? 
  • If you could do your project again, what would you change?
  • Did you learn any new skills?Were there any aspects of the project that were challenging? How did you overcome any challenges?
  • What was the most enjoyable part of the project work, and why?
  • What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do STEM project work in the same field? 
6. Personal skills

Throughout your entry, judges will be assessing the following skills and how you have demonstrated them during your project. Judges will be looking for: 

  • Understanding and application of scientific, engineering and/or technological methods  
  • Clear communication - use of visuals to demonstrate your project and answering questions directly 
  • Enthusiasm for your project
  • Evidence of innovation and creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience - how well you dealt with challenges that you encountered
  • Teamwork and leadership, for group projects – making sure everyone had a clear role and purpose and everyone’s ideas were heard
  • Independence and self-motivation, for individual projects – your time management and goal setting 

Advice on entry formats

This year competitors are asked to submit a written project entry or a short video about their project.

When completing your written entry, please ensure you cover the assessment criteria. If you are submitting a written entry, please keep these word counts in mind:

  • Project overview: 150 words max
  • Project concept: 300 words max
  • Project process: 400 words max
  • Project outcomes: 400 words max
  • Next steps and reflections: 350 words max

If you are submitting a video entry, videos should be no longer than 3 minutes, and files should be no bigger than 300MB.

Download our guide on how to film a video entry.

Remember, the judges are interested in learning about your work and want to celebrate your achievements! Our main advice for competitors is to do their best and provide as much relevant information as possible. Good luck!

— Helena Dodd and Andy Cowan, The Big Bang Competition Head Judges 2020-2021

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