Royal College of Science Union

The Science Challenge is the Royal College of Science Union's (RCSU*) annual science communication competition. Requiring entrants to demonstrate their skills in scientific debate and reasoning, the Science Challenge tests the ability of today's young scientists to teach the public about the science that affects their lives.

The Science Challenge is an annual event launching in December and closing in February, when submissions are sent to markers and guest judges for evaluation. Shortlisted candidates are invited to the Grand Finale event in March, which typically takes place at an exclusive London venue – previous years’ venues include the House of Lords and The Royal Institution.

Each year a theme is chosen, with 3-4 questions set for the contestants. The entries are divided into categories based on the question answered, with a winner and runner-up chosen from each category, and two overall winners chosen amongst all entries. Previous winners have received tours of CERN in Geneva, and large cash prizes.

*The RCSU is the student union for the Faculty of Natural Science at Imperial College London. Students who study mathematics, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, and biology are all members of the RCSU.

Who is it for?

The Science Challenge is the perfect opportunity for young scientists to communicate science in an engaging, concise and creative manner. 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 in the last 4 years of secondary school or the equivalent from anywhere around the world.

Entries from schools will be judged separately from Imperial entries; each year there is one overall Schools winner and one overall Imperial winner.

Our Purpose and Mission

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.


Special thanks to the individuals who have made each year's competition possible. Firstly, our wonderful judges, for the competition would not be possible without their expertise and without them lending us their valuable time. Secondly, the Faculty of Natural Sciences and the Royal College of Science Union. Their yearly support ensures that the competition can continue to grow and provide opportunities to students around the country.

Nattalyn Teng

Science Challenge Chair 20/21

George Peter Banyard

Science Challenge Web Officer

Aparna Pillai

RCSU President

Maya Lopez

RCSU Vice President (Operations)

Anca Cionca

RCSU Publicity Officer

Mareya Saba

RCSU Vice President (Activities)

Shivam Patel

Zoom Technician for Launch Event

Lord Robert Winston

President's Envoy for Outreach and Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London, the ambassador for the Science Challenge since its inauguration