Pennsylvania Students Compete in State STEM Design Challenge

Pennsylvania Students Compete in State STEM Design Challenge

By Danielle Ferrante

On May 13, 2016 elementary and middle school students from throughout Pennsylvania met at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to participate in the third annual Pennsylvania State STEM Design Challenge. This year 184 students tested their engineering, design, critical thinking and teamwork skills in this challenging yet rewarding competition.

The annual challenge allows students in grades four through eight to brainstorm, develop and implement a solution to an engineering problem using K’NEX building materials. The problem is usually somewhat vague to encourage students to really use their imaginations and think of their solutions in more unique ways. This year students were tasked with building a structure that was at least one meter high and could withstand some load of weight. Each team was allowed to use only 1,400 K’NEX pieces and had just two hours to complete their build.

On the day of the competition students brought their blueprints, building materials and a ton of enthusiasm as volunteers from Thermo Fisher Scientific, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU3), AquaPhoenix Scientific and K’NEX Education evaluated the students throughout the two-hour build time. Teams were judged on their overall design and how well they worked together, along with a written narrative and oral presentation that they had prepared. This year the students’ creativity and design skills really took the spotlight, with judges seeing everything from school buildings and spaceships to hotels and even a pagoda!

As part of our mission to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer, we promote STEM education in classrooms all over the country, and the STEM Design Challenge accomplishes this in an interactive and engaging way. Christine Gray, a teacher at Octorara Intermediate School who has had teams place at the state competition over the past two years, told us, “It is because of this challenge that my students have a love for STEM.” We are extremely proud to be champions of this cause and are grateful for everyone who participated in order to make this challenge possible!

PA Stem Design Challenge Results

Grades 4-5

1st Place: Standing Stone Elementary
2nd Place: Ellwood City Area School District
3rd Place: Woodland Hills Academy
HM: East Vincent Elementary
HM: Indian Rock Elementary — York Suburban

Grades 6-8

1st Place: Lackawanna Trail School District
2nd Place: Octorara Intermediate School
3rd Place: St. Anne School — Bethlehem, PA
HM: The Walden School — Media, PA
HM: Southern Fulton School District