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Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
1. How large can my cardboard pieces be? If all your individual cardboard pieces or glued pieces fit into the starting envelope, it’s allowed.
2. What do you mean by “change” the device? It may be simple to build one device out of cardboard, but the challenge is in designing and building a device that can, with clever rearrangement of pieces, be assembled into a different device that solves a different problem.
3. Do we score higher if the device is really large? Not necessarily. The assembled device must be larger than the starting envelope. Judges will be looking to be wowed by your design, so creative designs are more important than size.
4. If all the team members are in the same location, do they still have to build two copies? Yes. Judges are looking for two copies of the device. These two copies will be presented by different team members during judging.
5. Why do teams have to build two copies of devices? Building two copies demonstrates teamwork, communication, repeatability and the ability to follow plans. These two copies will be presented by different team members during judging.
6. How similar do the two copies have to be? Judges are looking for two copies of the device that assemble and function the same way. Minor differences in measurements are not a problem. The two devices may also have different decorations. For example, if one device is purple and one is green, or one has polka dots and one doesn’t, that is fine.
7. Can team members change or modify their success criteria after the device is built? Teams may change their success criteria, but they need to document the changes in their journals. Teams will be required to turn in their success criteria prior to the showcase.
8. Do we get extra credit if ____? No. Judges will be looking for innovative devices that solve the team’s problems and meet the team’s own defined success criteria. Teams will be judged on their creativity in design and construction of cardboard devices.
9. Can teams decorate their devices? Yes, as long as the decorations do not hinder the judges’ ability to see how the device is assembled, and the decorations are non-structural.
10. Does my device have to be recyclable? No. Note: Paint or decorations will make the cardboard non-recyclable.
11. Can teams use connectors such as string, bolts, paper clips, etc., to construct or assemble their devices? No, only cardboard and glue can be used in constructing the pieces that fit within the starting envelope. Only the pieces in the starting envelope can be used to assemble the device in front of the judges. No other materials are allowed.
12. Does the assembled device have to be larger than the maximum envelope of 24 x 36 x 4 inches? No. The device must simply be larger than the team-defined starting envelope.
13. How many dimensions of the assembled solution need to exceed the size of the starting envelope? At a minimum, one dimension must exceed the size of the starting envelope. However, judges are looking for creative solutions that wow them.
14. The challenge says “Your team will construct and assemble a useful device of your choice out of cardboard.“ What do you mean by a “useful” device? Any device that solves a problem for the team can be considered useful.
15. Do I have to use only boxes? No. Other forms of cardboard may be used. Just make sure your pieces fit into your starting envelope.
16. If I don't have any old cardboard, can I use new cardboard from places like Lowe’s, Home Depot or a dollar store? Yes!
Test Trials Questions
1. How do I sign up for test trials? Test trial registration can be found here.
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.