Armourers and Brasiers Sixth Form Materials Prize

The aim of the Armourers and Brasiers Sixth Form Materials Prize is to give students structured opportunities to find out about materials science and engineering outside their normal lessons.  It requires students to make a sustained commitment to learning about materials throughout year 12.  The timing of the project is such that materials science is fresh in the minds of the participants at a crucial time, when they are making their course choices and starting the UCAS application process.

The competition is open to year 12 (or equivalent) students from the UK studying at least one post-16 course in a STEM subject (i.e. physics, chemistry, biology, design & technology, engineering and maths). The students must make a commitment to engaging with the project throughout year 12, devoting a minimum time of around 12 hours to learning more about materials. There is no limit to the number of students that can take part in the competition in your school, however you may only nominate up to five students to enter each year for the national competition.

Participating students compile a Portfolio of Experiences based on two compulsory and two optional modules that are completed outside of normal lessons with the guidance of their teachers. The modules are designed to give students a better understanding of the importance of materials science and engineering in society and some knowledge of the fundamental science of materials, enhancing what they might study in their lessons.

The themes of the modules are as follows:

Module 1 - compulsory Fundamentals of materials science and careers
Module 2 - option Choose 2 from: Materials in aerospace, Biomaterials, Sports materials, Materials in energy applications, smart materials and nanotechnology
Module 3 - option
Module 4 - compulsory Individual research project


Each module should take approximately 3 hours to complete.  The aim is to complete one module every half term but you may work through the modules at a pace which is best suited to your situation. The only stipulation is that the portfolios of your nominated candidates must be submitted by the closing date at the latest; you are welcome to send them in earlier if you wish.

The students collect the results of their research and experimentation in their portfolio and should be encouraged to build up a collection of articles and reports relating to other ‘materials experiences’ that they have had. These could include open days, taster courses, visiting speakers, television programmes or news articles from the web.

As part of the final module participants must also prepare a 10 minute presentation which they will deliver to their peers.

The prize has been designed so that the modules can be guided by either science or design & technology teachers, although in an ideal world the two departments would work together as materials is such a multidisciplinary subject.  Alternatively, students may work through the modules independently, with the support of a teacher if needed. A full pack of support materials will be provided including detailed notes and ideas for activities which can all be done with everyday materials and equipment that most schools already have.

The amount of content in the modules decreases through the competition as we appreciate that during the spring/summer terms coursework and exam revision must take precedence.

Once all the modules are complete teachers should assess students on the basis of their portfolio and presentation and nominate a maximum of five candidates for the next round of judging.  Our standard judging form is available to assist you with this.  The portfolios of the nominated candidates, accompanied by an official entry form, should be submitted to IOM3 by the closing date.

All portfolios submitted on or before the closing date will be judged and four finalists selected.   The four finalists will be informed, via their school, by the end of October.

The finalists will be invited to give their presentations to the panel of judges at Armourers’ Hall in London in early December.  The first prize will be awarded on the basis of the portfolio and presentation combined and an additional prize will be awarded for the best portfolio. The prizes will be presented to all the winners and finalists at a special ceremony on the same day.

The judging panel will be made up of representatives from the Armourers and Brasiers, Tata Steel and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the judges’ decision is final.