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Be like Chris: Enjoying The Bright Challenge 2024 #BeyondAI Experience

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At 8.00 am on the morning of Wednesday, 24th January, I arrived at my school as normal, though this was not to be a normal day. I teach at Buriram Pittayakhom (BP) School in lower northeast Thailand. Meeting with 2 of my Thai colleagues and a small number of our students in the BP BFITS Program, we were about to set off on a not-so-short trip of approximately 380 km. Our destination? Nonthaburi Province is where the annual “The Bright Challenge” by BFITS will be taking place this year.

Ready to board our van for the 6+ hour journey

The Bright Challenge is an annual knowledge, and skills-based competition held each year for Matayom 1-3 students. It is organised by The Nation Group Thailand and BFITS.

This year, it was held in Nonthaburi, a central Thai province lying northwest of the capital, Bangkok, but in reality, only a stone’s throw away from said capital. The venue was Panyapiwat Auditorium, Panyapiwat Institute of Management. It proved to be a wonderfully suitable venue for the competition.

Our driver started the engine, and we left our school at 8.30 am, primed for the journey south. This being my 3rd year in Thailand, I have been on some long and arduous journeys before and helped by the stopovers at the ubiquitous 7/11 shops; this was a relatively straightforward trip. We decided to use the time wisely, rattling off different capital cities from all corners of the world, the students themselves having identified geography as a potential weak point.

After the aforementioned stops along the way, we finally arrived in Nonthaburi. We thought it wise to come a day early and spend a night in a hotel, thus giving our team the opportunity to rest well and get a good night’s sleep before the action kicked off the following morning. Having seen how hard they had practiced, going through page after page of science and math questions in particular, I encouraged the team to do just that. To be well rested for what Thursday would bring.

Outside-Panyapiwat-Institute-of-Management-PIM-on-the-morning-of-the-Bright-Challenge 2024

Outside Panyapiwat Institute of Management (PIM) on the morning of the Bright Challenge

Waking early on the morning of the competition we availed of the hotel breakfast on offer and then piled into our van again for the short trip to the host venue. Our team was understandably a little nervous but also confident in themselves and their own ability. I have always tried to encourage this self-confidence and instill in them a belief that they can achieve anything they set their mind to.

Arriving at the venue at 8.15 am, we needed to register our attendance along with the other 35 competing teams. Then followed a photo with the Managing Director of The Bright Group, Mr. Nicholas Newell.


The Bright Challenge-2024 with the BFITS Directors

You could feel the tension and, in equal measure, the excitement in the air at this time, only minutes from the opening of the competition.

The Bright Challenge 2024 Anticipation-Builds

Anticipation builds as we wait to enter The Bright Challenge 2024 competition opening remarks

We were ushered into a large room where we took our seats, and the 2024 BFITS Bright Challenge was officially declared open. A number of esteemed guests spoke next on stage, and we listened intently.

The Bright Challenge 2024 Opening-Remarks with Mr. Nicholas Newell

Opening Remarks by Mr. Nicholas Newell, The Managing Director of The Bright Group

The Bright Challenge 2024 Guest-Speaker

A Guest Speaker of The Bright Challenge 2024

Let me explain the layout of what was to follow next. The competition is divided into 3 distinct parts, the first of which is a quiz round comprising 60 questions based around the topics of English, Maths, Science, and Geography. There is a time limit of 30 seconds for each question, and teams are provided with four possible answers, only one of which is correct.

The second part of the competition is the STEM Challenge. This year, the students from all 36 competing schools were asked to build a balloon-powered car in a short time frame of 15 minutes. The car was then expected (or hoped!) to travel as far as possible on a track. I am happy to report that the students rose to the challenge.

Part three was ‘showtime,’ where the students from each school made an introductory video of themselves and their school.

The Bright Challenge 2024 nervous-teachers

The Bright Challenge 2024 audience who may look nervous than the students

As the various different school teams gathered together at their table for the opening quiz round all the school mentors and staff sat and watched from the side of the room, silently urging their own students to do their best and wishing them luck.

The Bright Challenge 2024 Hosts

Our wonderful hosts for the first 3 rounds of the competition

The 60-question Big Quiz round flew by in what felt like no time at all. The questions had varying degrees of difficulty but most of the students seemed relatively happy at how it had developed.

The Bright Challenge 2024 Big Quiz Round

What is the answer??

Next, the teams were presented with a box of materials, and it was time to start the STEM Challenge. This would prove to be quite difficult for a number of teams who struggled to make their car run or move at all. Of course, some teams were successful in this, and the challenge produced some interesting results.

The Bright Challenge 2024 STEM Round

Start of The Bright Challenge 2024 STEM Round

The Bright Challenge 2024 STEM Round
Designing/building the balloon-powered car.

The Bright Challenge 2024 STEM Round

Buriram Pittayakhom (BP) School student successfully reached a far distance

The last round of the morning saw the students partake in ‘Showtime’, where they would enter a photo booth and record a video. Students were advised they could say anything they wanted here, but the most important thing was that they be sure to mention the name of the school that they were representing.

The Bright Challenge It's Showtime

The Bright Challenge 2024 students introducing their school for Showtime

The morning was now complete and we retired for lunch while the scores for each school would be calculated. The students appeared happy in their efforts and relieved to have done a good job in the various challenges. Lunch was provided free of charge, and teachers and students alike were happy to pick from the various different selections.

The Bright Challenge 2024 lunch for all

The Bright Challenge 2024 lunch for all

At about 1 pm, we reentered the hall and were primed to hear which schools had made the final 4 and would compete for the first prize of a trip to Japan. Students and teachers alike anxiously awaited the announcement. 

Alas, my own school did not make the final 4, but I want to say how high the standard was and how looking back on the day now, I think all the competing teams were successful just by being a part of this great event. It was a day of meeting new people, mixing, and talking with other schools and like-minded scholars. I also had this feeling as I met new and like-minded people, educators who only want what is best for the students we teach and hopefully help to grow. It was a pleasure to meet people from BFITS I had only ever known through email contact prior to this. 

For the record, the 4 finalists were Patumwan Demonstration School, Satriwithaya School, Triamudomsuksapattanakarn Ratchada School, and Satit Panyapiwat Institute of Management Demonstration School. The final battle would consist of two rounds of questions of varying degrees of difficulty—the more difficult the question, the more points on offer. Ultimately, and after a titanic battle, Patumwan Demonstration School was crowned champions. Congratulations to them and, indeed, to all 4 finalists who did a great job.


Patumwan Demonstration School (โรงเรียนสาธิตมหาวิทยาลัยศรีนครินทรวิโรฒ ปทุมวัน)


Satriwithaya School (โรงเรียนสตรีวิทยา)


Triamudomsuksapattanakarn Ratchada School (โรงเรียนเตรียมอุดมศึกษาพัฒนาการ รัชดา)


Satit Panyapiwat Institute Of Management Demonstration School

A special mention to those who won the prize for the Most Creative Showtime Video Suankularb Wittayalai Thonburi School and to my own school team at Buriram Pittayakhom who won the prize for the BEST STEM Teamwork. Of course, I was immensely proud of their achievement, as should all the mentors from each participating school.


Suankularb Wittayalai Thonburi School (โรงเรียนสวนกุหลาบวิทยาลัย ธนบุรี)


Burirampitthayakhom School (โรงเรียนบุรีรัมย์พิทยาคม)

To all the participants I say this. Be proud of yourselves and your efforts, you have done amazing work and this is not the end. This is the beginning as you work towards your goals, goals I have no doubt you can all achieve. Signing off from the Bright Challenge 2024, I wish everybody the best success moving forward.

The-Bright-Challenge-2024 with the Game Master

The Bright Challenge 2024 #BeyondAI Experience

Bring on 2025!

About the Author
Christopher Whearty

Christopher Whearty

Chris is a Math teacher from Ireland. After working in China for over 3 years, he moved to Thailand in April 2021 and has been part of the BFITS team since shortly after that. What he likes most about Thailand is the weather, the food, and the genuine warmth of the local people.
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