Pioneers, your next challenge is here!

Pioneers, the exciting, rewarding, innovative programme for 11-16 year olds, is ready to challenge you to create something new using tech.

Every Pioneers challenge is themed (for those who didn’t compete, the last one was ‘Make Us Laugh’)… So here’s the lovely Ana from ZSL London Zoo to reveal the theme of the next challenge:

You have until Monday the 10th of July to make something related to the outdoors. As Ana said, the outdoors is pretty big, so here are some ideas to get you started:

You could use a Raspberry Pi to track and look after your pet, or build and code a motion time-lapse camera rig for your school grounds.

There are some beautiful free satellite images out there, why not use them to create your own landscapes?

Or how about using an Arduino to photograph bursting bubbles, making a rain sensing light up umbrella or a speedometer for your bike?

You could charge your phone whilst walking or while you’re cycling… And if you’re on your bike, why not stay safe at night with a light up jacket?!


If you’re looking at all of these projects and thinking you don’t know where to start, never fear! Our free resources offer a great starting point for any new project and can help you to build upon your existing skills and widen your scope for creating greatness.

We really want to see your creativity and ingenuity though; so we’d recommend using these as a starting point to build upon, rather than just doing something basic with them. And to help us out, the wonderful Pimoroni are offering 15% off kit for ourGetting Started with Wearables and Getting Started with picamera resources. You should also check out our new Poo Near You resource for an example of a completely code-based project.

Thanks to our friends at the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund, for this cycle of Pioneers we are making bursaries available to teams to cover the cost of these basic kits (one per team). This is for teens that haven’t taken part in digital making activities before to whom the financial barriers might put them off. Details about this and the discount will be sent to you when you register.


We’ve introduced a few new things for this round of Pioneers, so pay special attention if you took part last time round! If you did take part last time, you’ll need to re-register for this cycle.

We’re looking for UK-based teams of between two and five people aged 11-16 to work together to create something related to the outdoors. We’ve found that in our experience there are three main ways to run a Pioneers team, but it’s up to you to decide how you’ll proceed when it comes to your participation in Pioneers.

You could organise a Group which meets once or twice a week. We find this method works well for school-based teams that can meet at the end of a school day for an hour or two a week.

You could mentor a Squad that is largely informal and probably already has a good idea of what they’re doing. A Squad tends to be more independent, and meetings may be sporadic, informal or online only. This option isn’t recommended if it’s your first competition like this, or if you’re not a techie yourself.

You could join a local Event that is meeting at a technology hub near you. We’re hoping to run more and more of these events around the country as Pioneers evolves and grows. If you think you’d like to help us run an event, get in touch! We love to hear from people who want to spread their love of making, and we’ll support you as much as we possibly can to get your event rocking along. If you want to run an Event, you will need to pre-register on the Pioneers website so that we can get you all the support you need well before you open your doors.


As always, we’re excited to see your projects progress through social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. So as you work on your build, make sure to share the ‘making of…’ stages with us using #MakeYourIdeas!

For more ideas of previous entries, here’s the winner announcement video for the last Pioneers challenge:

Once you’ve gathered your team, first thing is to register. So what are you waiting for? Head to the Pioneers website to get started!
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