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Rapid Steam Resources

Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge

Welcome to the STEAM Challenge! These weekly challenges were initially run in the spring of 2020 and were designed to incorporate all areas of STEAM, without the need to buy any products. We were able to offer some fantastic prizes thanks to the support of our amazing education partners Vex Robotics, Arduino Education, Shape Robotics, Bare Conductive, Daler Rowney and Creative Hut.


Daler Rowney Challenge

Feel like creating a masterpiece using paint and string? String pour painting is a fascinating way to experiment with texture, surface and paint. Open to all ages, there are three prizes from Daler Rowney worth over £400 up for grabs for all you incredible string hands.

The Challenge

Can you paint us a picture … with a piece of string?
What you will need to create your masterpiece:

  • String
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Paper or canvas
  • Creative thinking!
Cut some lengths of string, dip them in different coloured paints and drag them across your canvas. If you haven’t got a canvas, paper will do. If you haven’t got paper, find a wall in your house that needs decorating! If you need some inspiration, have a look at this tutorial. You don’t have to use acrylic paints but Daler Rowney’s will help you to create something memorable. The challenge is open to all ages.

The Winner

Creative Hut Challenge

Love LEGO®? Then you will love this! We are looking for the individual or family that can build the tallest tower out of LEGO® Duplo or LEGO® System bricks. Sound easy? Well of course it would be for all you Master Builders. But this is tower building with a twist.

The Challenge

Build the Tallest Tower with LEGO Bricks

  1. Use LEGO or DUPLO System bricks to build the tallest tower you can
  2. No bricks can be connected
  3. No bricks can be side by side
  4. The tower must be free standing with bricks perfectly balanced on top of each other
  5. Measure and share a photo or video to enter

The Winner

Shape Robotics Challenge

There are already pizza restaurants where a robot makes the pizza. There are bars where robots mix drinks and cafes where the baristas are robots. Imagine a robot that could bake a cake. A Fable robot, from Shape Robotics, if given the right instructions, could quite conceivably come up with something to tickle Mary Berry’s tastebuds.

We are all baking more during lockdown, but with our latest challenge you don’t need the robot. All you need is the Fable Blockly software, which a family member or your ‘nominated baker’ can use to replicate what the Fable robot would do. You will learn which code blocks are important, what to use and how to code a recipe.

The Challenge

  1. Find a recipe for a cake (If you do not have cake ingredients or want to make something else that's fine too).
  2. Create a plan for your code:
    • First code: My nominated baker has to read the recipe.
    • Second code: They have to find all ingredients.
    • Third code: The baker has to collect all the necessary utensils they need for cooking.
  3. Put together codes that will make your baker bake the cake. You will need the following code blocks:
    • Action
    • Logic
    • Loops
    Here you will see examples of blocks used for speed, movement, number of times, etc. Instead, imagine that it is your baker’s movements that you need to code. Remember all the details in the process have to be coded. There are codes available in Fable Blockly that can be used as inspiration to extend your analog code - remember there is a simple and advanced view.
  4. Now take a photo of the cake & eat
  5. Test yourself!
    • Where in the code did it go wrong? What did your baker do wrong and what did you do to correct them?
    • Could you imagine having a robot in your home that could cook for you? What would be the pros and cons?

Download Fable Blockly here:

Shape Robotics Challenge

The Winner

Arduino Education Challenge

Arduino is about making. It gives you the hardware and software to turn your own ideas and inventions into reality. So, to build your own protective measure to help combat the coronavirus, let your imagination go. Be creative. Don’t be afraid to dream. Our world’s best inventions started as ideas in the minds of inventors who had the vision and drive to make them reality.

The Challenge

  • Provide a draft of your protective measure explaining how you will use the Arduino hardware to either
    • keep your hands clean or
    • not touch your face or
    • maintain the distance from other people.
  • You don’t have to have Arduino hardware to take part – just review the useful links below and let us know what you would do if you did have it!

The Purpose

  • Everyone can help avoid the spread of COVID-19 if
    • we wash or disinfect our hands frequently
    • don’t touch our face
    • maintain at least 2 metres (6 feet) distance between yourself and other people.
  • Join us to combat COVID-19 by building and programming your Arduino based protective measure.
Arduino Challenge

The Winner

References & Links

Here are some useful references & links to help you get started:

  • What is Arduino?
  • Getting Started with Arduino
  • Arduino Boards are able to read inputs - light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message - and turn it into an output - activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online.
  • Arduino Software: You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board. To do so you use the Arduino programming language, and the Arduino Software (IDE).
  • Arduino Project Hub: This website contains thousands of do-it-yourself projects that have been built with Arduino. Use the filters at the top to pick a category or topic related to COVID-19 protective measures.

VEXcode VR Challenge

VEXcode VR is a browser-based application from VEX Robotics that allows you to program a virtual robot using VEXcode Blocks, just like real VEX robots. Explore the different virtual Playgrounds using sensors to navigate around the fields and complete challenges.

The Challenge

Use the robot in VEXcode VR to draw an image with the pen tool. You can draw absolutely anything you like – a pattern, a logo, a robot, a self-portrait – it is completely up to you!

  • Launch VEXcode VR in your browser (
  • View the video on this page or visit the VEX Robotics UK YouTube channel for an introduction to the challenge
  • Perfect your code and your drawing
  • Once you are happy, take a screen grab of just the Playground window, not your code at this stage. Make sure you use the top-down view for the best view of your masterpiece. The image can be submitted by a supervising adult, teacher or school account if required
  • Post your picture on Twitter being sure to tag @VEXRoboticsUK, @Rapid_Edu and use the hashtag #winwithrapid
  • Save your program from VEXcode VR and email the code to and include your Twitter handle as the email subject line

The Winner

Bare Conductive Challenge

Ever wanted your own interactive wall at home? If so what would it do? This is your chance to win one by designing your own interactive poster.

The Challenge

Using paper, cardboard, markers and paint, create a poster through images and sound. You can tell a story, explain a concept, tell us about yourself or create a visual soundscape. Your inspiration is the amazing Bare Conductive Touch Board, whose 12 electrodes can trigger sound and make any project interactive and responsive.

Posters will be judged on their visual storytelling, accompanying sounds and technical finish. What do we mean by that? Well, how closely entries have followed the technical instructions to make sure the 12 capacitive sensors work. Don’t worry, you don’t need a Touch Board itself – you just have to show how your sensors would trigger the sounds you’ve selected for your poster.

Detailed instructions are available in this document here. This will guide you through the steps you need to follow to create your poster and more information about how the Touch Board works and Bare Conductive’s electric paint.

The challenge has two age categories – 8 to 16 and 16+.