The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (@DofE) reveals the more unusual, unexpected, and unique ways you can strike gold! 

What do rocket making, circus performing, mini-bus maintenance, magic and beekeeping have in common? 

The answer is that they are among the top ten more unusual, unexpected, or simply unique activities chosen by young people for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. 

The charity has revealed that these are just some of hundreds of different activities that young people have undertaken as part of their DofE. It hopes that publishing its top ten will inspire 14 to 24-year-olds to start their own DofE journey this autumn, knowing they can follow their passions and tailor their DofE experience to their own personal interests. 

Ruth Marvel, DofE CEO said: 

“After all the disruption, dislocation and lost learning young people have experienced over the last 18 months, helping them to recover and rebuild is vital. During the pandemic we’ve seen how DofE has helped young people stay positive, active and connected and follow their passions, no matter how unusual. As we start the new school year, we want all young people to have the opportunities DofE offers, to explore who they are and discover their own unique talents.  

“Our message is simple: you can follow your passions and find new ones through the DofE – and in doing so build the self-belief and resilience that will help you deal with whatever life throws your way.” 

The top ten list of activities also includes snail farming, pigeon breeding, carnivorous plant cultivation, reptile keeping and bhangra dancing.  

They show that almost anything is possible, along with the more popular activities young people choose to do. In the past year more than half (56%) of volunteering activities were helping people in need, litter-picking and helping children. Seven in ten participants (72%) chose cooking, playing an instrument or first aid as a skill they wanted to develop, and almost half (46%) chose walking, football or keep fit for their physical activity. 

15-year-old Chloe, from Clackmannanshire, Scotland, learned how to maintain the school minibuses for her DofE skill. 

“I enjoyed working under the bonnet and learning new things. It’s great to have learned so much because if your car breaks down you know what to do!” she explained. 

“I wouldn’t have done it had it not been for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but it’s a great thing to put on my university application and it will help me in later life. It’s amazing that you are not really limited to any skill or activity. You can do anything as long as you improve in it,” she added. 

Misha from Norfolk did circus skills. She had already started to learn trapeze, juggling, tightwire and hula hoops so was delighted when she discovered she could develop them as part of her DofE. 

Misha said:

“Doing my circus skills for DofE has helped me really improve. Though I have been doing it a long time, I am constantly learning. My tutors are very supportive and help me to overcome my fears as some disciplines can be rather nerve-wracking.” 

The charity is aiming to engage, inspire, and empower over one million young people through DofE over the next five years through its Youth Without Limits strategy. Those interested in doing DofE can ask their school, college or university, join a national youth group such as the Scouts or Girlguiding or get in touch with their local youth club and see if it runs DofE, or visit 

The top ten unusual, unexpected, and unique DofE activities are: 

  • rocket making
  • circus performing
  • reptile keeping
  • mini-bus maintenance
  • beekeeping
  • snail farming
  • pigeon breeding
  • carnivorous plant cultivation 
  • magic
  • bhangra dancing 

Case Studies: 

Rocket making: 

Olivia Smith found doing her Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver Award was quite literally a blast! She joined the rocket club at Worthing College and was soon helping to design and build a craft to launch into the sky. 

“I’ve always loved science but never done anything like making a rocket before. I’m more biology than physics but it was fun to do something I’ve not tried, to give it a go and learn something. I probably wouldn’t have joined the club if I hadn’t been looking for a new skill for DofE,” explained Olivia, now 19. 

“I guess rocket making is quite an unusual thing to put on your DofE Skills but it can be hard to find something that isn’t sporty and can be assessed. You have to think outside the box and really look at what is available to you.”  

Olivia added: “DofE is not just for sporty kids or musical kids, it’s a lot more inclusive than that and it really gives people the opportunity to get involved whatever their interests.” 


Arsh Shaikh from London has loved illusions since he was a small boy and had always wanted to find out how they were done. He says discovering that he could learn tricks as part of his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was “just magic.” 

“During my final year at Leyton Sixth Form College I was determined to learn magic to perform for friends and at events, so I joined the Magic Society and I thought it would also be a perfect skill to do for my DofE,” explained Arsh, now 23, who, having gained his Bronze and Silver awards, is in the final stages of completing his Gold. 

He added: “Learning magic was not easy as you have to dedicate time to learn and keep polishing your performance, but it was so worth it. It's cool and fun! The reaction of the audience is what I really like as it helps people forget about their worries and instead be amazed by the trick being performed.” 

Reptile Keeping: 

When 15-year-old Archie says he likes a good adder, he’s not talking about Maths’ skills. The Telford schoolboy is into snakes, and he’s been able to put his skills and his love of all things Reptile to good use by using them as an activity to help him gain his Bronze DofE award. 

As a good all-round sportsman, Archie had no trouble completing the physical part of the DofE challenge, but it was only after volunteering to work at his local Zoo that he knew what to do for the skills section. 

 “I’d never really thought of doing anything like animal care before, but the DofE motivated me and I’m still motivated. I’d always liked going to zoos, but I would have never thought about working with the animals and I really enjoy it. The snakes are my favourite, they’re just fascinating, I could stand there all day and watch them,” explained Archie. 

 “I’d say to anyone thinking of DofE, do some research before you pick what you do for your challenges because it’s not just about sport and music. There are so many exciting opportunities to learn new things, don’t write anything off.” 


When Baljodh Singh, from Birmingham, signed up for his DofE he wanted to learn new skills and challenge himself but found the awards gave him so much more, becoming the first step to a wealth of opportunities and helping him forge an unexpected link with his culture and country of his birth.  

“I was born in India and came to the UK 10 years ago. I discovered a Bhangra class near me, and it really appealed because its background is Punjabi which felt like a good connection with my culture and religion,” said 20-year-old Baljodh. 

“I started doing it at school on Friday nights and really enjoyed it. I’d just begun my DofE Gold so I could do it as my Physical and then the manager wanted me to join the team - we have different teams that perform at weddings and festivals, and I’ve been all over the UK. 

Baljodh added: “I’m an academic person really and was always very focused on studying so DofE helped me have something away from studying, activities that are social, fun but still teaching me.”  

“The DofE is about life lessons and one of the biggest for me was stepping out of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do something like Punjabi or cadets and now I come back and help others. The learning is endless, one thing leads to another and another and these are all skills that you take with you through life.”  

Mini-bus Maintenance: 

15-year-old Chloe, from Clackmannanshire in Scotland, learned how to maintain the school minibuses for her DofE skill. “I enjoyed working under the bonnet and learning new things. It’s great to have learned so much because if your car breaks down you know what to do!” explained Chloe.  

 “I wouldn’t have done it had it not been for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but it’s a great thing to put on my university application and it will help me in later life. It’s amazing that you are not really limited to any skill or activity. You can do anything as long as you improve on it,” she added.  

Circus skills: 

Misha from Norfolk did circus skills for her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. She had already started to learn trapeze, juggling, tightwire and hula hoops so was delighted when she discovered she could develop them as part of her DofE. 

Misha said: “Doing my circus skills for DofE has helped me really improve. Though I have been doing it a long time, I am constantly learning. My tutors are very supportive and help me to overcome my fears as some disciplines can be rather nerve-wracking.”  


You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work: Stats and Benefits: Working from home is a necessity rather than a luxury…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page