Have a question about The Tech Challenge? Check below to see if it’s already answered. If not, email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to provide you with an answer within five business days. Emailed questions and answers will be added anonymously to this page.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are there any device size and weight requirements? No.
2. Is Success level 1 better than Success level 2? If you meet Success level 1, you can challenge yourself to meet Success level 2. Success level 2 is more difficult and therefore the more challenging level. Either way, celebrate your success!
3. Do we need to worry about parts of our device “getting away” from us (that is, dropping and coming off the device)? No. As long as everything is done in a safe manner.
4. Should my device play a song? This is a sound challenge, not a music challenge. The challenge is to make 5 distinct and different sounds. You choose how to make the sound.
5. Is there a difference between making a sound and making a noise? The challenge is for your device to make 5 distinct and different sounds. You choose how to make the sounds. Noise is a subjective term. For this challenge, it could be considered a sound as long as it is distinctive.
6. What is “stored energy”? Stored energy is energy captured for a use at a later time. For your device, the stored energy will transfer into the required kinetic energy during performance to make your sound. There are many ways to store energy and we won’t list them here since that is your challenge. For safety’s sake, we have determined that the stored energy found in electrical/electronic devices and pressurized gas devices of greater than 5 psi are not allowed.
7. What do you mean when you say you can’t “preload” devices? That means you need to set up all of your device’s stored energy during the performance period in front of the judges. For example, if you have multiple parts of your device using stored energy all of those parts need to be set up in front of the judges. Anything that adds energy to the system during device operation has to be loaded as part of the setup in front of the judges.
8. Can my device run longer than 90 seconds? No. Part of the challenge is to ensure your device does not run past 90 seconds.
9. What is meant by “simple and elegant”? A complex device is not necessarily better than a simple device. Simple and elegant devices have minimal parts but they are easy to operate and they do what they are supposed to do.
10. How do I know if my device has an appropriate trigger? A trigger is a built-in release mechanism that starts your stored energy device. We require a trigger for safety reasons. You should be able to set up your device so it is ready. This means you are not touching it and it will not start until you activate your trigger. Your trigger starts your device the same way each time it is released. It does not vary depending on how much of your own power you use.
Examples of triggers include:
- pulling a string
- pressing a button
- flipping a latch
- opening a clip
- removing a stick
11. Can one of our sounds be the release of our trigger? No.
1. How do I register a team? Click here to register for The Tech Challenge.
2. Can participants on the same team attend different schools? Yes.
3. Can a third-grader join our team? No. The Tech Challenge is designed for students in Grades 4-12 and is not age-appropriate for younger students. Teams that do not follow the division rules will be disqualified from the Challenge.
4. I am a sixth-grader and want to be on the same team as my ninth-grade brother. Is that OK? Yes, teams can have members from different grade levels. However, you will compete at the level of the team's highest grade level. For instance, even though you are in sixth grade, your team will compete in the high school competition.
Test Trials Questions
1. How do I sign up for test trials? Test trial registration can be found here. Registration opens Feb. 1.
2. How important is it to attend test trials? It’s better to fail at a trial than at the showcase! There will be judges at test trials to answer questions. Test trials are a great way to troubleshoot and refine your solution. There will be several test trial events, so take full advantage!
3. How do you get the most out of the test trials? Come to as many test trials as you can, even if you don’t have a device ready to test. The head judges will be able to answer your questions and give your team feedback. Have the team talk about their experience after each trial. Ask what worked and what didn’t. Remember to document your thoughts in your engineering journal.
1. Can we get information on the details of the judging process? General information can be found in the Judging Process section. Specific details of judging are only available to Tech staff and senior volunteers assigned to help with judging. The Tech does not make available the names of judges.
2. Can we get sponsors for our team? Sure. When looking for sponsors, consider two things: what you need and who you know. Think about businesses that have the materials you are looking for and ask for donations. Or talk to friends, family, neighbors or anyone else who might want to help you. You'll want to prepare a presentation before you approach potential sponsors. Describe the competition and why you are participating. Explain where you are in the design process and how their assistance will help you. Take things for them to look at, The Tech Challenge poster, your latest device sketch, etc. Respect their time and keep it brief.
3. Can I get together with anyone to create a team, or do teams have to be students from the same school? You can get together with anyone to create a team. The only rule is that every participant must be in Grades 4-12 somewhere — not necessarily in your class or school.
4. I have students with special needs. Can they participate in The Tech Challenge? Yes! If your team has members that need special considerations, please contact us at email@example.com.
1. My child is participating in the challenge this year. Can I volunteer to be a judge? No. Parents, advisers and teachers of participants are not permitted to serve as judge.
2. I would like to sign up my entire team from work to volunteer for the challenge. Can I just submit a spreadsheet and have you sign them up for me? We cannot enter volunteer information from a spreadsheet or other document. We recommend that your company/organization appoint a lead person to register volunteers.
3. How old do I need to be to be a judge? You must be at least 18 and a high school graduate.
4. Can my spouse or significant other volunteer with me? Absolutely! Spouses and significant others are encouraged to volunteer.
Don’t see your question here? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.