Hydrogen Challenge

  • 14 Jan, 2014
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Participants are encouraged to build their models as quickly as possible, then race their cars a number of times in a process of iterative design. Each time, they can go back and make changes to their car in order to try and improve their distance. At the end of the session, each team keeps their highest score. We ran a competition to find the longest distances across a number of schools across London.

Personal notes

I was responsible for designing the workshop and trialling it. During the trial we decided to move away from custom made laser cut ‘mechano’ and use Lego for a faster workshop shutdown and turnaround. Following a successfull run at the Abu Dhabi science festival I trained Arcola Energy facilitators to continue running the workshop.

One of the parts I enjoyed about running this workshop was getting the opportunity to run it so much at the science festivals. By the end of the first week we had mastered the delivery of it, and it was a great experience to be performing it so well.

Learning objectives

  • Hydrogen can be used as a fuel and to store energy
  • Understanding the process of storing energy
  • Practising iterative design – working quickly, failing fast
  • Team work and co-operation
  • Sources of energy for the future
  • Understanding what is meant by efficiency
  • Understanding why we make changes to designs


Arcola educators and engineers have delivered workshops to over 1,500 London school students as part of the London Schools Hydrogen Challenge, 3,000 Abu Dhabi school students at the Abu Dhabi Science Festival and 800 students at the Cambridge Phyisics at Work programme. In June 2015 Arcola delivered workshops to 1000 students on the Isle of Wight as part of the Island Hydrogen Project.

10 years later the workshop is still going strong!

Participant feedback

  • “I enjoyed this workshop. It taught me the meaning of global warming in detail, making it clear for me how I could help reduce carbon emissions and how to slow down global warming” Eden, Year 9 – participant in October 2010 workshops
  • “It was fantastic! The whole lesson/workshop was engaging and fun. The workshop taught us about efficiency and construction.” Student, City Academy


We’ve worked with Matt on many projects over the years and highly commend his ability to design, build and facilitate science communication workshops. The Hydrogen challenge workshop is one of our longest running and most successful workshops. His technical skills and ability to engage with people is a fantastic combination.

Ben Todd, PhD
Managing director, Arcola Energy

It is vital that London school pupils gain hands on experience of the latest technologies and the science involved, if they are to become the innovators of tomorrow creating future growth and jobs in London through their entrepreneurial minds.

Kit Malthouse
Deputy Mayor for London Business and Enterprise