Here’s Everything that Happens on an Oxford Scholastica Challenge Afternoon

31 Mar, 2024 | Blog Articles, Get the Edge

Challenge Afternoons are a unique highlight of our Oxford Scholastica residential summer schools. They provide students with a hands-on learning experience in their chosen subjects as they put their theoretical knowledge into practice. 

The afternoon is deliberately designed to foster essential skills like critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. Complementing in-class lessons, the Challenge Afternoons provide a holistic approach to learning, developing essential practical skills outside of the traditional classroom setting.

What Is the Oxford Scholastica Academy?

The Oxford Scholastica Academy is an educational institution offering transformative learning experiences for students aged 12 to 18. We are committed to providing a holistic learning environment that extends beyond the traditional school curriculum. Our summer residential courses combine university-style teaching with academic challenges, Masterclasses and cultural adventures. 

Our worldview emphasises active thinking, collaboration and long-term thinking. The Challenge Afternoons embody this mission as students work together to solve complex real-life problems relevant to their subject, and gain invaluable experience in their field. The Challenge Afternoons inspire and empower young people, equipping them with the skills for a positive and prosperous future.

What Is an Oxford Scholastica Challenge Afternoon?

The Challenge Afternoons are one of the most intellectually stimulating aspects of the summer schools. It’s an opportunity to put the new knowledge and skills students have learnt during their first week to the test in real-world contexts. In small groups, students tackle practical challenges and have opportunities to collaborate with students on other courses to gain insight into interdisciplinary approaches. 

On the Friday afternoon of the first week, our students observe doctors at the John Radcliffe Hospital, argue their first legal case, and pitch their first business idea!

The Challenges

We offer a range of Challenge Afternoons across different disciplines and subject areas. Designed to provide an insight into each particular subject, the Challenges are specifically tailored to the unique experiences offered by each field.

Business and Technology’s Rocket Challenge

Each summer, our Discover Business and Discover Technology students work together to design a rocket and launch a marketing campaign to a panel of investors. 

The fast-paced Rocket Challenge requires students to put all the theories they’ve learnt into practice, applying their newfound maths, physics and business knowledge (respectively) to a real-life problem. Technology students work to design the rockets, while Business students put together a business pitch to persuade an expert judging panel that their rocket is the best. It’s a blast!

Oxford Scholastica students studying with a tutor

Medicine’s Mock Clinic Challenge

Be a doctor for the afternoon! The Discover Medicine and Experience Medicine students participate in our Mock Clinic Challenge, where they meet real patients with various chronic medical conditions and speak to them about their symptoms. This unique experience gives potential Medicine applicants an insight into the day-to-day life of a medical student working in a clinic or hospital. It’s also an excellent addition to med school applications. 

In the mock clinic, students apply what they’ve learnt in their classes to present their patients to the doctor. Students discuss how to improve the patient’s care, which is an invaluable opportunity to gain practical experience in a clinical setting.

Business and Computer Science’s App Challenge

Our Experience Business & Enterprise students work with the Experience Computer Science & Coding students to propose a new mobile phone app. Students conduct market research, build a prototype for their idea, and develop a brand and a business plan.

The App Challenge encourages students to put theory to the test, and apply their coding and business knowledge to a real-life problem. Working on an interdisciplinary project, students also develop their teamwork and communication skills. 

After they devise a prototype, students pitch their idea to an expert judge panel.

Two students working together on a laptop

Creative Writing’s Books Series Challenge

The Experience Creative Writing students participate in our new Book Series Challenge to experience what it’s like to be a writer for the day, puzzling through the challenges of writing a book series. 

Working with peers in a writer’s room, students brainstorm ideas for characters, plots and settings using the skills they’ve learnt throughout the programme. 

With one eye on the clock, students work to a strict editorial deadline, taking on different responsibilities to come up with the next best-selling idea!

Debate and Politics’ Model United Nations Challenge

For Experience Debate & Public Speaking students and Experience International Relations, Politics & Leadership students, we put together a simulated United Nations security council.

The Model United Nations Challenge puts critical thinking, communication and teamwork to the test. Representing a particular country, students present and debate critical worldwide issues with other diplomats who have conflicting interests. There are a range of issues that the Model UN might face, from cyber security and conflict resolution to climate change and global pandemics.

The Model UN Challenge teaches students how to use their skills and knowledge to develop solutions that gain a consensus in an unexpected crisis situation. This Challenge is an engaging and creative way for students to take part in informative and memorable debates about real-life issues and topics that are relevant in the world today.

An Oxford Scholastica Academy International Relations summer school

Engineering’s Bridge Building Challenge

During the summer, our Experience Engineering students take part in our Bridge Building Challenge. This Challenge requires students to work in a team to build the best possible bridge, applying the theory they’ve learnt in class to a practical problem. The aspiring engineers use their resourcefulness, engineering knowledge and creativity to build a sturdy and inventive bridge. 

The Challenge is an inventive way for students to demonstrate their theoretical understanding of engineering principles by applying them to a practical (and fun!) task.

Law’s Mock Trial Challenge

The Experience Law students have the opportunity to visit Oxford’s Crown Court to participate in a mock trial. To ‘win’ the trial, students must build a case and persuade a jury of peers with the most convincing argument. The Challenge requires aspiring lawyers to demonstrate their reasoning skills and understanding of the legal system, researching and representing a side in a legal case. 

Students experience the fast-paced and stimulating energy of putting a case together quickly before the court is in session, learning what it’s like to be a lawyer, eye-witness or magistrate.

Oxford Scholastica students in the Oxford Courts

Psychology’s Research Challenge

Our Experience Psychology & Neuroscience students take part in our Research Challenge. The Challenge requires students to put their learning to the test and conduct their own psychological research. 

Students design a research question to further their understanding of an aspect of individuality. Their research topic can focus on any topic relating to creativity, mood or personality traits. Similar to lab research, students design a questionnaire and interview their peers. After collecting the research data, aspiring Psychology students uncover the answers to their questions about the human psyche, presenting their findings at the end of the Challenge.

The Challenge Afternoons are a unique opportunity for students to put their learning to the test in real-world situations. 

As well as learning crucial academic skills and knowledge, students develop life skills such as teamwork, time management and communication.

Check out the Oxford Scholastica Academy residential programmes for an unforgettable summer!


By Smriti Pahari

Smriti recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law from Worcester College, University of Oxford. She is currently embarking on a Solicitors Qualifying Exam at BPP University and aspires to be a commercial lawyer. 

Interested in participating in a Challenge Afternoon?

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