Bridge-Building Competition Engages Students With Active Learning Approach

Science Center of Iowa’s premier “Ready, Set, Build! Bridge-Building Challenge,” event inspired students to consider careers in engineering and transportation and launched a lasting partnership for key transportation agencies in the state.

Seventy-six students and family members from all around Iowa traveled to Des Moines, Iowa to attend the November, 2015 event designed to introduce y­oung students to engineering through an approach based on hands-on learning. Event participants formed 24 teams, and each team had three hours to construct a bridge using a selection of balsa wood, wood clothespins, popsicle sticks, hot glue, and string. The bridges were then tested and judged. Read more


Future City Competition

Registration is Now Open!

Regionals Begin in January.

Future City starts with a question—how can we make the world a better place? To answer it, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future that showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue. Past topics include stormwater management, urban agriculture, public spaces, and green energy. The 2017-2018 theme is The Age-Friendly City. Teams will identify an age-related challenge that exists in today’s urban environments and engineer two innovative solutions that allow their future city’s senior citizens to be as active and independent as they want to be.

Participants complete five deliverables: a virtual city design (using SimCity); a 1,500-word city essay; a scale model; a project plan, and a presentation to judges at Regional Competitions in January. Regional winners represent their region at the Finals in Washington, DC in February. After completing Future City, student participants are not only prepared to be citizens of today’s complex and technical world, but also poised to become the drivers of tomorrow.

Submission Deadline: 2018 EngineerGirl Writing Contest

Engineering for Your Community

Write a plea to convince others to improve your community’s infrastructure.

Submission Deadline: February 1, 2018

To enter the contest:

Look around your community for the different systems in each of the categories listed above. Choose one system and do some research on how it works where you live.  (It’s a big list to choose from, so find something that really interests you.)

Find one aspect or part of the system that can be improved and:

  • Describe all the things that this part of the system needs to do and the things that might make it difficult to change, such as cost or space.
  • Think of at least two engineering solutions that could improve that aspect of the system.
  • Research those solutions. (Has someone else tried this solution? What worked well, and how could it be improved?)
  • Choose the solution that you think would work best for your community.

Did you know? By working through these steps, you are using key elements of engineering design to solve a problem. This will help you understand and write about your solution.

Elementary School Students (grades 3-5); Submissions must be 400 to 700 words.

Write a letter to your city or county council that describes the need for the improvement in your community infrastructure and the preferred solution from your research. Include a brief description of the challenges you identified and how you think engineers might address them.

Middle School Students in (grades 6-8); Submissions must be 600 to 1100 words.

Write a persuasive essay to present to your city or county council that makes the case for an infrastructure improvement in your community and your chosen solution to the problem. Be sure to fully define the problem and address the challenges engineers might face in implementing the improvements.

High School Students (grades 9-12); Submissions must be 1000 to 1500 words.

Write a summary report for your city or county council that makes the case for an infrastructure improvement in your community and your chosen solution to the problem. Fully define the problem and describe your solution in detail, including how and why it should be implemented.  Explain what has already been tried or is already known about this type of solution and what would be new or innovative in your community.  Describe how you will test or anticipate failure for any new innovations to minimize risk.