2016 K'Nex STEM Design Challenge

Sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific and BLaST IU17

We’re very excited about our regional STEM Design Challenge featuring K’Nex coming up on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 from 9am – 1pm in Penn’s Inn at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. (Snow date is the next day, Thursday, March 31, 2016.)

Thank you very much for your overwhelming positivity and enthusiasm as we work through this inaugural year together. When planning an event like this for the first time, the road is occasionally bumpy, and we appreciate your flexibility and patience as we move forward.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: In an effort to be equitable across the board, and because of space limitations, we are asking that each participating school district bring no more than two teams per grade band (4-5 or 6-8) to the regional event on March 30. Each district may have up to 2 teams of 4-5 graders and up to 2 teams of 6-8 graders at most, for a total of up to 4 teams per district. If you have procured more K’Nex kits via purchase, donation, etc. and have more than 2 teams in each grade band who would like to participate, please hold a local elimination round in your district prior to coming to the regional challenge. The local elimination round may be as simple or as involved as you deem necessary.

The following has been pulled from the teleconference power point slides in order to have all pertinent information in one, easily accessible location:

2016 STEM Design Challenge

Your team is challenged to design a building. This building must be at least 1 meter tall and your team must be able to demonstrate that your building can hold weight. During the presentation your team must show the strength of your building (using books, weights, etc.) and also address how your building is environmentally friendly.


• A team of 2-4 students will work together on the project.

• Only K’Nex kits and motors may be used. Each team may use up to 1400 K’Nex pieces. (Motor is not required.)

• Schools must bring their K’Nex kits and motors on the day of the competition.

• Students will have 2 hours to put their project together at the competition.

• No pieces may be brought to the competition already joined.

• Each team will need to bring a journal and a blueprint to the competition with them.

• Each team will need to prepare a presentation (max 2 minutes) on their model and how they answered the challenge.

Judging Criteria

• Creativity (for example, propose the building is dual purpose or has a unique design: generates electric potential for neighborhood, constructed with unique earthquake resistance, or structure on Mars for man mission)

• Teamwork

• Challenge Success

• Design

• Presentation (demonstrate challenge, incorporation of blueprints & journal, 2-minute delivery, basic presentation skills, answering questions from judges)


Teams must answer the following questions but may include other information:

• Describe the process the team used to come up with a solution.

• What roles did each member have while coming up with the solution?

• What types of issues arose while working on the project?

• Did creating a blueprint help with the creation of your model?

• Did you use any other resources or models to help your team come up with a solution?


Blueprints may be a picture, drawing, CAD, etc. Students may present on a tablet/laptop but judges do not award additional points for use of technology.

Additional MS Challenge

Teams competing in the Grades 6-8 division will also be asked to present a budget of their project. Each K’Nex piece will be given a price and teams will receive an inventory sheet. Middle school teams will need to turn in an inventory of pieces used and an overall cost of their building. If using pieces not listed in the inventory, cost approximations are to be made at the advisor’s discretion based on similar pieces in the inventory.


• Awards at the regional challenge will be given to top three teams in Grades 4-5 and top three teams in Grades 6-8

• Top team in each division will advance to the state competition at Harrisburg University on May 13, 2016

Tentative Schedule for the Day

9:00am – 9:30am Registration

9:30am – 9:45am Welcome/Competition Overview

9:45am – 11:45am Student Competition

11:45am – 12:30pm Judging/Project Peer Review

12:30pm – 12:45pm Awards Ceremony

12:45pm – 1:00pm Clean up and Dismiss

There is no set lunch time built into the schedule. Students are invited to pack a lunch and eat when time permits (if they finish building before the two hours of the student competition is up, for example). Groups may also remain after the competition (until 1:30pm) and eat their lunches.

2016 STEM Design Challenge Rubrics are available

Please contact dwescott@iu17.org to request a copy. (Note: Rubrics are not to be shared with students. For Teacher/Adviser use only.)