Royal College of Science Union
Science Challenge 2017

About the Science Challenge

The RCSU Science Challenge is now in its 10th year of running, since being founded by past RCSU President Jad Marrouche in 2007. Having maintained its reputation for A-list judges and extravagant prizes, the Science Challenge has been a spectacle in the RCSU's events calendar ever since.

What is the Science Challenge?

The Science Challenge is the RCSU’s annual flagship event, launching in December and closing in February, when submissions will get marked ready for the Grand Final in March.

It is the perfect opportunity for you to communicate science in an engaging, concise and fun manner. Founded in 2007, the Science Challenge is a highlight in the RCSU calendar, with the Final typically taking place in an exclusive London venue.

You can take part in the Science Challenge if you’re an Imperial student, no matter what faculty you are part of, or if you are still in secondary school or equivalent anywhere in the world. There will be a Schools’ winner and an Imperial winner for each question, as well as overall. Previous winners have received tours of CERN in Geneva, and large cash prizes.

Ultimately, the Science Challenge is here to provoke thought amongst scientists of the future generations; what are the problems affecting society and how can they use science to help resolve them? And how can we effectively communicate science and its consequences to the wider public? By taking part in the competition, not only will you learn how to answer these questions, you might even learn more about yourself.

Who made it possible?

Rani Mehta

Science Challenge Chair

Lloyd James

RCSU President

Griffin Farrow

RCSU Treasurer

Michael Edwards

RCSU Secretary

Ben Collier

RCSU Publicity Officer

Ben Sharpless

RCSU Broadsheet Editor

Sina Lari

RCSU Vice President Operations

James Long

Website Maintainer

How it all started

As part of an exclusive interview with Dr Jad Marrouche, available in Felix now, here's a brief snippet from Jad's memories in setting up the Science Challenge...

John Sanderson was the president of the Royal College of Science Association at the time. He donated a thousand pounds of his own money to try to make the Science Challenge happen, the first time we tried it. We had a pilot year, the year before the RCSU became the RCSU again, and it was very successful.

[...]

We had a £10,000 prize I think. That was a huge prize. And we had the final in the Ritz. That was the single biggest cheque I’ve ever written. It was around £24500 for that evening, thereabouts. We had to get it signed off by the College.

But it was extremely successful. We had a huge waiting list for the tickets. The tickets were £20 and they sold out very, very quickly, within about twenty minutes of going on sale. The waiting list was longer than the actual number of tickets.

Special Thanks

Special thanks must go to a few individuals for making this year’s competition possible. Firstly, the Science Challenge would not happen without our wonderful judges. Our judges all have leading roles in science communication and in the public engagement in science. They have kindly given up time in their busy schedules to speak a few words at the Launch and Grand Final, and select the overall winners.


Lastly, the Science Challenge would not be possible without the support of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Their yearly support ensures that the competition can continue to grow and provide opportunities to students around the country.