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Exciting Year 12 challenges launched for 2019

  • 03 April 2019

Year 12 students are being challenged to think outside the box as we launch our new prize challenges. This year, four exciting challenges have been set in Engineering, History, Modern Languages and Natural Sciences. 

Each competition carries a first prize of £600, to be split equally between the winning candidate and his or her school or college, and a second prize of £400, which again is to be shared equally between the candidate and his or her school or college.

This year’s Engineering challenge aims to introduce students to the problem-solving skills required of an engineer. Students have been asked to create a product that will make a real difference to society. While mathematics and science play an important role in the world of engineering, the ability to analyse a problem and come up with a practical and cost-effective solution is fundamental to the success of an engineer.

In this year’s History challenge, students are set the task of writing a ‘biography’ of any object in historical context. Any object with a history, even a recent history, can be chosen – from an ancient Roman mirror to an early modern leather shoe; from a Georgian royal bed to an IKEA sofa! This technique – writing an object biography – is one way through which historians have tried to understand the individual ‘life’ of an object. The judges will be looking for creativity in the choice of the object and its interpretation.

To enter this year’s Modern Languages prize, students are asked to write a critical essay on a recent work of literature or visual art which is in one of the main languages taught by the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian or Portuguese). The judges will be looking for precise observation and attention to detail, original ideas, perceptive analysis, and expressive and effective writing.

Year 12 students interested in Natural Sciences are probably studying more than one of the core science subjects: Physics, Chemistry and Biology. This year’s Natural Sciences challenge asks students to develop a classroom presentation and/or activity on an interdisciplinary science topic that can be delivered to Year 12 students. This challenge encourages students to see links between the sciences, which is often how the most exciting discoveries are made.

The closing date for the prizes is Friday 31 May 2019. All the details and the coversheets needed for submission can be found on our website. We welcome entries from students of all schools and all backgrounds.

Good luck and we look forward to seeing your work.

Any queries about the prizes should be directed to

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