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The Department of Defence and STEM Hub present the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Propulsion Challenge, a project-based learning experience.

The Challenge aims to encourage young minds to think like engineers and scientists by engaging them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, inspiring innovation, self-confidence,  communication, and teamwork. The Challenge also aims to develop students’ interest in STEM subjects, the Australian Defence Force, and submariner careers in the Navy.

This Challenge has been developed for students in Years 7 to 12 to use STEM disciplines to explore the technology involved in nuclear-powered propulsion systems used in submarines.

High School teams from each State and Territory will have the opportunity to submit their design for review and the winning teams will have the opportunity to travel to Western Australia for the ultimate experiential prize; a tour of HMAS Stirling and an immersive submariner experience. HMAS Stirling is the home base of the Australian Collins class submarines.

What will students learn?

  • An understanding of the vision that science provides in everyday life and the nature of scientific inquiry, and the ability to use a range of scientific inquiry methods, including questioning, planning, evaluating concepts, and drawing critical, evidence-based conclusions.

  • To communicate scientific concepts and findings to a range of audiences, to justify ideas based on 
    evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims.

  • To solve problems and make informed, evidence-based decisions about current and future applications of science.

  • To collaborate within a team (teams will consist of 3-5 students).

  • STEM based careers, in particular in submariner roles with the Navy.

  • Establish a fact-based analysis of the capabilities of nuclear-powered submarines vs diesel-electric powered submarines.

Challenge deliverables & expected engagement


Teams are to develop a presentation (no more than 8 minutes), to be submitted in MP4 format. The
tion is to address a 2 part set of questions which are provided upon registration. 

Expected Engagement

  • In-Class Activity: 1 session per week over 10 weeks commitment, allowing students to work on the project as an extended homework task. 

  • Extra-Curricular Activity: 2 sessions per week over 5 weeks commitment, where teams are collaborating in a team environment. 

  • Home-School Groups: 1 session per week over 10 weeks commitment, where teams are collaborating in a team environment. 

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Winning teams, including 2 teachers/guardians, will be provided with flights (and accommodation) to HMAS Stirling (WA).

The following are also included:

  • Return transport costs from your school to the nearest domestic airport.

  • Return airfare for each team to Perth (WA). Each team may consist of up to 5 students and is to 
    include 2 teachers/guardians.

  • Transport from Perth Airport to hotel accommodation (accommodation will be shared). 

  • Daily transport to and from HMAS Stirling.

  • Daily activities and tour of HMAS Stirling to gain a realistic view of life in the Navy and as a submariner and will include:

    • Tour of an Australian submarine (subject to availability and operational requirements).

    • Lunch with Australian submariners.

    • Experience 3D motion training simulators. 

  • All meals whilst undertaking tours and activities.

  • Editorial in STEM Hub’s HEADJAM Magazine.



Selection of winning teams

Winning teams will be selected for each State and Territory for the Junior Division (Year 7-9) and Senior
(Year 10-12).​

Important dates

  • Teams will be notified of their success no later than 5PM on 16 October 2023.

  • Winning teams will travel to HMAS Stirling (WA) during the period 10 – 15 December 2023. The travel dates for winning teams will be confirmed following notification.

    • ​​​Note: Team travel will include 2 nights accommodation in WA.


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