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Extension > Youth Development > Minnesota 4-H > Events > Engineering Design Challenge

Engineering Design Challenge

The goal of the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge is to encourage critical thinking, creativity, innovation and problem solving in a non-traditional learning event and have fun at the same time. Young people in third through eighth grades can compete in these friendly science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competitions that take place at county fairs.

Participants apply their STEM knowledge to solve problems by identifying and researching them, then making and implementing a plan to design a solution. The challenge is designed and supervised by faculty from the University of Minnesota in the STEM Education Center and the Extension Center for Youth Development.

toothbrush lying next to toothpaste coming out of a tube

The 2015 Engineering Design Challenge:

Design and build a Rube Goldberg that puts toothpaste on a toothbrush!

The 4-H Engineering Design Challenge for 2015 will be to build a machine based on a Rube Goldberg design (RG) created by your team. The task the machine must accomplish is to put toothpaste on a toothbrush.

A machine built in the spirit of Rube Goldberg design is an overly complex contraption that does a simple task. The best ones use everyday items in a whimsical way to interact as a series of chain-reaction steps to accomplish the simple task. To make their RGs, participants in the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge use physics and engineering principles, employ humor and storytelling, work as a team, consult adult mentors and reflect on their learning. Watch a video about Rube Goldberg designs.

To make their RGs, participants in the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge use physics and engineering principles, work as a team, consult adult mentors and reflect on their learning. Teams that build a RG and complete the supplementary recordkeeping requirements can show them at their county fair, where they may qualify to be eligible to show their RG at the Minnesota State Fair.

Are you interested in forming a team to take part in the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge?

Most of the information you need, including how to register, can be found in this year's 4-H Engineering Design Challenge rule book. Once you've registered, your team can get started on designing and building your RG.

4-H setting up their RGD

Active Engineers RG team from Kandiyohi County set up their machine at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair. Click image to enlarge.

Last year's challenge:

Build a Rube Goldberg design to zip a zipper!

The 4-H Engineering Design Challenge for 2014 was to build a machine that zipped a zipper, based on Rube Goldberg design (RG).

About Minnesota 4-H

Minnesota 4-H is a learn-by-doing youth development organization offered throughout the state. Read more about 4-H. The 4-H Engineering Design Challenge is one of many science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects that young people can do in 4-H. We encourage critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and problem solving in nonformal learning experiences and we have fun in the process!

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