University of Minnesota Extension
Menu Menu

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

Engineering Design Challenge


The goal of this 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 BOTH online and 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. They are guided by University of Minnesota undergraduate science students. 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.

The 2014 Challenge:

Build a Rube Goldberg machine to zip a zipper!

teens-building-rgmThe 4-H Engineering Design Challenge for 2014 was to build a Rube Goldberg Machine (RGM) that zipped a zipper. A Rube Goldberg machine is an overly complex contraption that does a simple task. The best ones use everyday items in a whimsical way. They interact as a series of chain-reaction steps to accomplish a simple task. In the contest, youth not only employ physics and engineering, but humor and storytelling, to create their RGMs. Watch a RGM video.

To make their RGM, participants in the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge will use physics and engineering principles, work as a team, consult adult mentors and reflect on their learning. Teams that build a RGM and complete the supplementary requirements can show them at their county fair. Teams that meet these requirements and show at their county fairs will be eligible to show their RGM at the Minnesota State Fair.

2015: Build a Rube Goldberg contraption

Information about the 2015 Engineering Design Challenge will be coming soon. Watch for details to be posted early in January, 2015.

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!

  • © 2014 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy