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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. Is use of a parachute allowed? Parachutes expand before landing, so parachutes are not allowed.
2. What is the minimum number of devices a team has to create? Teams must create a minimum of two devices. One will be judged for area expansion and the other will be judged for volume expansion based on your detailed photo or sketch given to the Judges. (See Device Performance Rule #1.)
3. Can all the devices be identical? There are no rules prohibiting identical devices. (See Device Performance Rule #1.)
4. What is the maximum number of devices a team can create? There is no maximum specified. However, teams get a maximum of four launches. (See Device Performance Rule #13.)
5. Can I launch four area devices followed by four volume devices? No. You get up to four launches TOTAL to achieve both a successful area expansion and successful volume expansion.
6. Do I have to launch 2 area launches and 2 volume launches? No. You must launch at least one area device and one volume device.
7. Can a team use less than four launches? Yes. Teams do not need to use all four launches.
8. Can a device be an autonomous drone? An autonomous drone would not be forbidden; however such a store-bought solution is not in the spirit of the challenge. The Tech Challenge is an engineering design challenge so we want the teams to design their own devices rather than purchase a store-bought solution. If you purchase a store-bought drone you have not designed your solution, the drone maker did the designing.
9. What if a device lands on top of another device?
a. The area or volume of all devices will be judged when all launches are done. So if a subsequent device causes an existing device to change its area or volume we will judge what is there at the end of the performance period.
b. If the subsequent device is simply covering a prior device then there is no impact to the area or volume.
10. Does the launcher envelope of 4’x4’x4’ include the device mounted on the launcher? No.
11. Could a device continue expanding beyond the 4-minute time? No. Area or volume of the expanded device will be judged at the end of the four-minute period.
12. Is rolling out a paper roll considered a valid area expansion? Rolling out a paper roll is only a one-direction expansion. Device specification #4a requires area devices to "expand in 2 perpendicular dimensions." Thus, a paper roll is not a valid area expansion.
13. Can dry ice be used in The Tech Challenge? No. Because of safety concerns, dry ice is not allowed.
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! The real test rig might be different from what you’re testing on at home. Also, 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. Bring a tool kit so you can tinker with your device. 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. Is The Tech Challenge cancelled due to COVID-19? The Tech Challenge has not been cancelled. We have changed to a virtual format.
2. We can’t buy materials to finish building our project. What can we do? Try building mock ups or models (e.g. scaled down versions) of your plans from the available materials in your home. Try to demonstrate that the key idea will actually work. If the materials you have won’t work, create detailed drawings of your plans including dimensions and what you would build out of if you could.
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. Are there any roles in which a parent of a Tech Challenge participant can help? Yes. Parents of participants can volunteer to provide event or team support.
3. 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.
4. If I can’t attend any of the judge trainings, what can I do to still be a judge? We offer a webinar during which participants may submit questions and receive responses from a judge trainer. If you are unable to attend the webinar, we offer a recorded version that volunteer judges may watch at their leisure.
5. Can my child volunteer with me? Children age 15 and up are welcome to volunteer in a non-judge role.
6. How old do I need to be to be a judge? You must be at least 18 and a high school graduate.
7. I have to bring my young child with me. Can I still volunteer? Children 15 and over are welcome to volunteer with you. If your child is under 15, please make other arrangements for his or her care.
8. 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.