13 Youth from Polk County participated in statewide engineering challenge

Submitted by Katie Becker, Polk County 4-H Educator
Crookston Times

Creativity and problem solving took virtual center stage during Minnesota 4-H’s annual Engineering Design Challenge on Aug. 9, 2021. Youth from across the state participated in an online learning event that featured machines built with their team or family that engaged youth in thinking about transportation from an engineering frame of mind.

Using this year’s challenge theme, Driving Change Through Transportation, teams of 3rd – 12th graders built complex machines that accomplished an important task: transport an object (person/thing) from one place to another and unload it, or load an object onto a mode of transportation and transport it from one place to another.

Youth from the Paws and Pals 4-H Club in Crookston and the New Hope for Immigrants 4-H Club in East Grand Forks finished their Rube Goldberg-like machines and submitted videos of their machines in action to the virtual showcase event. At the state event, the youth discussed their machines and what they learned with engineering professionals and students from across the state. Both teams received blue ribbons for their machines. The Paws and Pals team received the Excellence in Teamwork Award, given to the team that demonstrated outstanding cooperation among individuals on this team, honoring and utilizing the skills of each team member to accomplish the team’s goals. The New Hope for Immigrants 4-H Club received the Fired-up Award!, awarded to the team that exhibited great energy, excitement, and enthusiasm.

Each of the teams participating in the event spent weeks, and in some cases months, building the perfect machine to meet the challenge. 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.

“Youth that participate in the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge learn a lot about themselves as well as about engineering,” said Margo Bowerman, Extension educator and co-chair of the Minnesota 4-H STEM team. “They discover ways that they like to problem solve and how ideas can evolve when working with a team.”

Youth participants showed their machines to other teams, gave presentations, and had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Ian MacRae, an UMN Extension entomologist who uses engineering to scout for crop diseases and problems using drones, and from Todd Schauer, the Director of Projects for Resolve Marine, a global ship salvage company, who uses his education in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering to solve ship emergencies and shipwreck problems around the world. The event wrapped up with an awards ceremony, recognizing teams for their high-quality designs.

4-H members of the Paw and Pals 4-H Club that participated in the Engineering Design Challenge were Kasen Stromstad, Kalden Stromstad, James DeBoer, Kaitlin DeBoer, Eliza DeBoer, Katelyn Delzer and Aiden Delzer, and coaches Stacy Stromstad and Margo Bowerman. 4-H members of the New Hope for Immigrants 4-H Club that participated in the Engineering Design Challenge were Abdiweli said yussuf, Maryam said yussuf, Salma said yussuf, Akram Ahmed, Ahlam Ahmed, Aldrus Ahmed, and Ayah Ahmed, and coaches Noura Ahmed, Ibrahim Abdullahi, Katie Becker and Margo Bowerman.