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University of Minnesota Extension

Youth participate in a statewide engineering challenge

August 13, 2019

Over 200 youth demonstrated teamwork, creativity and innovation at the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge.

2 boys building a machine

The energetic buzz of more than 200 youth preparing for this challenge was hard to miss at Minnesota 4-H’s annual Engineering Design Challenge on Aug. 5, 2019. The event welcomed youth from across the state in a fun learning event that encourages teamwork, innovation and lots of creativity.

Using the engineering design process, teams of 3rd – 12th graders built complex machines that accomplished an important task: Help a superhero save the planet! The theme of the individual machines were selected by the teams and included deforestation, water pollution, overfishing and a host of others.

Each team spent weeks, and in some cases months, building the perfect machine to meet the challenge criteria. They used 4-H curriculum to explore engineering principles and tested multiple designs and equipment as they went. 4-H adult volunteers guided each team, providing meeting space, helping to secure materials and learning right alongside the young people.

I think the best part of the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge is how much youth and adults learn and grow together,” reflected Michael Compton, Extension educator and 4-H STEM director. “They discover how to engineer machines, but also about STEM careers and important life skills they can use no matter their future path.
Volunteer and kids building a machine

Youth participants also engaged in STEM learning activities, met with business representatives and toured the St. Cloud State University engineering department during the daylong event. It wrapped up with an awards ceremony, recognizing several teams for their high-quality designs.

Several teams were recognized for their exceptionality. Those teams included:

  • Excellence in Teamwork Award: Willing Worker Heroes team of Wright County

  • True GRIT Award:  Hulk Goes Green team of Chisago County, Trick Shots team of Anoka County and Clever Clovers team of Rice County

  • Inspiration Award: Voltron the Hero of Crow Wing County, Northern Lights team from St. Louis County and the T-Posing Hedgehogs team from Chisago County

  • Team Innovation Award: The Complicators team of Mille Lacs County

  • Excellence in Presentation Award: The Salvengers team of Dakota County, St. John’s STEM Club of Sherburne County and Team 2 from Washington County

  • Making a Difference Award: Kimball Cruizers team of Meeker County, the Sharon Progressives team of Le Sueur County and the Big Stone-neers team of Big Stone County

kids demonstrating at the engineering design challenge

Congratulations to all the teams for their creativity, perseverance and willingness to help save the planet!

View images of the event and watch our website for next year’s Engineering Design Challenge.

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