Teachers and business people gathered at Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology, in Bridgnorth, for the launch of the 2020 contest, in which youngsters must design and build something using science, technology, engineering and maths that has a positive impact on people's emotional wellbeing.
The project starts now, with judging day at the beginning of July. Schools will receive funds of £100 for the purchase of any necessary materials required for their projects.
Watch the STEM Challenge launch video - captured by 7Video:
There are a range of prizes up for grabs, including best presentation, best operating model, best teamwork, best work plan, best entrepreneurial team, business champion and people’s choice, and there will also be an overall winner. All pupils taking part will receive a certificate and winning schools for each category will be presented with trophies. Each pupil from the overall winning team will also receive a prize.
Bruce Renny, director of sponsors ROKiT Phones, is also hoping to take the winning team for a tour of the Williams F1 garage. The ROKiT Williams F1 car was on display at the launch, and attracted many admiring glances.
This year 13 schools are taking part, including Burton Borough, Hadley Learning Community, Mary Webb School & Science College, Shrewsbury Academy, Marches Academy, Adcote School for Girls, Telford Langley, Ercall Wood, Charlton School, Sir John Talbot's School, and The Grove School.
Business mentors involved are Magna Cosma Castings Ltd, Avara Foods, Cedo, ProtoLabs, Schneider Electric, Busch Vacuums, Network Telecom and Hitachi Capital Finance, all from Telford, Oswestry-based Aico Ltd and PaveAways, Bridgnorth Aluminium and Grainger & Worrall, both from Bridgnorth, and Derbyshire-based Western Power Distribution.
Lead sponsors are DENSO Manufacturing, Avara Foods, ROKiT Phones, ProtoLabs, Telford & Wrekin Council, Careers & Enterprise Company and Hitachi Capital Finance.
One team which is reuniting after teaming up last year is Burton Borough School and Magna Cosma Castings.
Lisa Kane, head of professional studies at the school, is excited to see what they children come up with as they try to create something in two worlds which might not often collide.
She said: "It's a very different challenge. We do a lot of work with the children on mental health and giving them a sense of belonging."
Ercall Wood School are joining forces with Schneider Electric for the project.
Max Davies, a science teacher at Ercall Wood School, said: "I'm quite keen to see what the kids' ideas are. Mental health has become a much more prominent issue, definitely more so than when I was a pupil. It's important that they aren't scared of the words depression and anxiety."
Sam Waters, who works in data privacy with Schneider Electric, is also keen to get stuck in. She says her company has a number of initiatives to help staff improve mental health including walking groups at lunch time.
She added: "One of our apprentices went to Ercall Wood, so hopefully we'll be able to get him to speak to the children."
Shropshire Star editor Martin Wright said: "Last year's competition was the first in Shropshire and proved to be a huge success. I'm sure this year will be even better."
The teams will be aiming to meet each week to work on the project, with mentors attending twice a month.
There will be full profiles of the teams in a supplement in this coming Thursday's Shropshire Star.