Big Science Challenge: Rolls Royce and the British Council

Our objective

To popularise science for young people in the Gulf and encourage educational and intercultural exchange between secondary schools in the UK and Middle East. The Big Science Challenge will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Our strategy

Our partnership was designed to combine the strengths of both organisations. Rolls-Royce has a global reputation for precision engineering but also a strong commitment to supporting the education agenda in science in the UK. The British Council brings high-level contacts and reputation in the Gulf along with experience in delivering high quality education programmes.

The Big Science Challenge competition was aimed at secondary schools across the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Jordan and the United Kingdom during the 2011/12 school year. Students aged 11 to 16 were invited to research and design an original, innovative solution to a problem concerning water, either locally, nationally or globally. Entries were judged at a national level by a panel of experts. 

Our impact

The Big Science Challenge was launched to over 3,000 schools in the UK and 430 schools in the Middle East. Our partnership helped students are better understand what it means to contribute to a global economy and society, which broadening their horizons and increasing their knowledge. Young people who took part were able to demonstrate their interest and enthusiasm in science and technology, while at the same time gaining additional skills in scientific research and innovation. For our institutions, our partnership allowed us to strengthen education links and develop our cultural relations activity within the Gulf.

The Big Science Challenge is now completed within the region and we are currently in discussion about how this and some other potential project ideas might be developed in other countries.

“We at Rolls-Royce are very pleased to have worked with the British Council to engage the youth of the Middle East in science and engineering.  The Middle East is an important region for us, and this exciting programme has played a central role in further developing these essential skills for the region’s students."

Dr Rob Watson, Regional Director, Rolls-Royce Middle East