STEM the Flow Engineering Challenge

An engineering-based design challenge to tackle marine litter in and around the River Clyde.

Marine litter pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing the environment, and has an effect on everything from flooding to air quality and even our food. Keep Scotland Beautiful, The West Partnership and industry partners would like you to be part of the solution, by tackling the problem upstream at the source.

Delivered as part of our award-winning Upstream Battle campaign, the STEM the Flow engineering challenge considers solutions to tackle Source to Sea litter in the River Clyde with a STEM challenge (Science, Technology Engineering and Maths) for Primary 6 to Secondary 3 pupils.

2023 STEM the Flow Exhibition

Primary and secondary schools from the Clyde region showcased their innovative solutions to reduce source to sea litter in the River Clyde as part of a fantastic exhibition event. The participating schools gathered at the Riverside Museum, Glasgow, to present their ideas to a panel of judges, guests and the public. Winning teams for five categories were presented with a bespoke award made from reclaimed marine plastic. We were delighted to have Mairi McAllan, Minister for the Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform deliver the welcome address. 

View all entries to the 2023 STEM the Flow Engineering Challenge

Litter, and plastic pollution in particular, has caused major problems for communities around the Clyde and we need to continually look at new ways to, not just reduce our plastic use, but clean our rivers of existing litter. The STEM the Flow challenge asked pupils to research and develop ideas to tackle these issues. These could be ways of collecting litter that is already in the Clyde, or preventing litter from getting into the Clyde in the first place.

As part of the project they had to collect evidence to inform their solution and raise awareness in displays for people from across the Clyde region to see. Teams of pupils worked together to create a project plan, conduct research, draw conclusions and build a model or produce a display to showcase their idea.

Further information on the STEM the Flow challenge can be found in the Guidance Booklet

We hope to build on the success of STEM the Flow to offer the challenge again in the 2023-24 academic year.

Teaching Staff Webinar

To find out more about the project please watch the Webinar recording from 13.10.22. You can also access the slides from the webinar here.

Workshop 1 - Clyde Environment and Sustainability

In the first STEM the Flow workshop we were joined by industry partners BAE Sytems Naval Ships to learn about the River Clyde and the importance of keeping the area clean for wildlife, people and industry.

You can also access the slides from the workshop here.

Workshop 2 - Water Filtration and Treatment

In the second STEM the Flow workshop we were joined by industry partners Scottish Water to learn about the Water Cycle and the process rainwater goes through to make it drinking water.

The presentation is narrated by Fiona, who led the workshop and can be accessed here

As part of the workshop participants also completed an activity to create a water filter and compare filtered and unfiltered water. This activity can be completed at anytime using the worksheet which accompanied the session. 

Workshop 3 - Materials and Fabrication

In the third STEM the Flow workshop we were joined by industry partners Jacobs Engineering to learn about materials and resources used in structural engineering, with a focus on bridge design and sustainability.

The slides can be accessed here.

As part of the workshop participants also completed an activity to construct a bridge using newspaper and compared it bridges made with other materials. This activity can be completed at anytime using the worksheet which accompanied the session. 

Workshop 4 - Scottish Innovation and Invention

In the fourth STEM the Flow workshop we were joined by education staff from the Riverside Museum to learn about some of Scotland's innovation and inventions, and how this relates to the STEM the Flow project.

The slides can be accessed here.

STEM the Flow Riverside Museum exhibition in 2019.

Workshops and Mentors: 

We are fortunate to have industry professionals supporting the STEM the Flow challenge. Scottish Water, Jacobs and BAE Systems are leading engineering experts within marine and freshwater environments.

All teams taking part in the challenge will have the opportunity to attend online workshops hosted by the industry partners to learn skills which will support their projects. Workshops will take place once a month from October to January and aim to tie in with a specific phase of project development- from coming up with a design concept, to building a prototype. All workshops will be held from 1.30 - 2.30pm. The workshops include a presentation about the topic and an activity for teams to complete during the workshop. The first half of the workshop will be recorded and uploaded to the webpage to watch back. However, as teams are encouraged to interact with the host via video, the second half will not be recorded. 

Please register in advance to attend the workshops using the form below, as links will be sent via email prior to the event.

Our industry partners will also support participants by offering professional advice throughout the challenge. Teams will have the opportunity to work with an industry expert, who will be able to answer questions from participants and offer advice at different stages of the project via online meetings.

Meetings must be agreed in advance and at the discretion of the mentor, further information is included in the webinar - see the recording above.


Our STEM the Flow Challenge has been developed to support a range of curricular areas, including delivering on each pupil’s entitlement to Learning for Sustainability, and:

  • STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
  • Geography
  • Art & Design
  • Numeracy and Literacy across learning

Please register below to take part.  If you have any questions at all please email us at upstreambattle@keepscotlandbeautiful.org

Please choose which sessions you would like to register for.  Shortly before each session you will receive an email with classroom resources and the link to join the webinar/ workshop. 


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