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How much weight can a balloon-powered vehicle carry? Find out with this year's 2015 Fluor® Engineering Challenge. Check the challenge guidelines, design and build your own vehicle, and enter for a chance to win money for your school from Fluor!

2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge #FluorChallenge / Balloon-powered vehicle

Turning a pile of parts into something functional is half the fun and a big part of the appeal of engineering for a lot of students. If you have ever done a science challenge where your team was handed a few sheets of paper or a handful of dried pasta and told you that you had 15 minutes to make a bridge, then you know that being challenged to think creatively about the goal at hand and how to work within the limitations of a specific set of materials and guidelines can be a lot of fun!

This year's 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge offers the same kind of hands-on fun and excitement for K-12 students. The goal is for students, working along or in small teams, to design and build a balloon-powered car that can carry a load of pennies across the finish line (or into the target zone) of a homemade test arena. How much weight the car can successfully carry is part of the challenge. What materials you use from the approved list to build your vehicle is another part of the challenge. If you come up with a working design that uses fewer materials, you may increase your final score.

So how can you turn a few CDs, balloons, jumbo straws, pencils, paper clips, and tape into a weight-bearing car that will successfully roll down the path and across the finish line? You will need to think creatively about the challenge, brainstorm ideas for how your vehicle might be assembled, and then put it to the test. If it doesn't work, you may need to go back and rethink certain aspects of your design and try again. If your vehicle carries one penny, blow up your balloon(s) and run it again with two. How much weight can it carry? Are there any design modifications you can make that will make a difference? Does your vehicle need everything you used to build it?

With the 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge, students will put the Engineering Design Process in motion.

We can't wait to see how your balloon-powered vehicle turns out! Plus, if you submit your results, you will be entered in the random drawing for a chance to win $1,500 USD for your school!

The official window for entries is February 22-March 15, so start gathering your materials and get ready for this year's Engineers Week and the 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge.

Fluor is a proud sponsor of Science Buddies.

Fluor is a registered service mark of Fluor Corporation. All rights reserved.



Kavli Video Contest USASEFAre you the parent of a budding filmmaker, writer, or scientist? Maybe your child loves Star Wars or X-Men. Are you looking for a creative learning enrichment activity that helps spark your child's imagination while fueling his or her interest in STEM subjects? The USA Science & Engineering Festival, in partnership with the Kavli Foundation, has launched a science video contest that is designed to challenge your child while providing a unique outlet for creative expression.

Not only does your child get an opportunity to practice and develop some real world science research skills, this fun activity also uses critical thinking, content and idea organizational skills, creative thinking, communications technology, and writing skills.

Careers in Movie Science

Do you love movies? Learn more about one of the following science, technology, engineering, and math career paths. You might find an exciting way to integrate your interest in the big screen with your interest in film technology, design, computer science, and art!

Movie Science Projects

For science project ideas related to film, animation, and movies, try one of these big screen ideas:

Middle school and high school age students are challenged to examine the science in movies, TV shows, and video games. This contest gives students an opportunity to think about science in a fresh way from a very unusual angle. Science fiction has featured many futuristic technologies, including bionics, robotics, interstellar space travel, to name just a few. By researching the science behind fictional futuristic science technologies, students may discover just how close scientists are to actually making some of these technologies real.

If your child has never made a video before, or entered a video contest, here are some tips to help get them started:

  • Have your child view at least one movie, show, or game that they want to investigate. It might help to make a list of futuristic technologies, along with a list of questions.
  • Research the science behind the futuristic technologies.
  • Ask questions, for example, what does science need to solve, invent or perfect in order to make interstellar space travel a reality?

Write a Brief Essay-style Outline and a Video Script

Make a 30 to 90 second movie that presents the topic in a creative way. Student movies can be made using a video camera (or video capable phone) and by editing photos, original art work, animation, text, royalty free stock footage (such as NASA). There are many styles of presenting video information including:

  • Power point or slide show style presentation, with or without narration and music
  • Reporter talking with a scientist or teacher
  • Reporter speaking directly to the camera
  • Group or individual song, poem, or rap

Upload the Final Edited Movie File to YouTube

Enter using the form on the contest website starting November 1. Deadline is Mar. 21, 2014. The winners will be announced at the USA Science & Engineering Festival during the weekend of April 26-27, 2014.

  • First Prize $2000
  • Second Prize $750
  • Third Prize $500
  • People's Choice $250
  • Wolfram Mathematica Software
  • Free Stunt Ranch Training

For more information please visit the video contest webpage: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/2014-festival/2014-contests/kavli-video-contest-2013-2014.html

The above post is presented on behalf of the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Science Buddies is proud to be a partner of the 2014 USASEF event.



The National STEM video game competition supports the potential of video game design as a tool for STEM education and rewards and encourages the learning process for emerging student video game developers. Science Buddies' video game design resources can help students get started on a path of game design and development that transforms a love of video game playing into an innovative process of game creation. What kind of video game will you build?

Click the image above to view video samples from winners of last year's National STEM Video Game Challenge.

The 2013 National STEM Video Game Challenge is on! Video game designers in middle and high school are invited to create a STEM-centered video game that shows off their video game design skills through the creation of an engaging game. The game can be educational in theme. Your game might revolve around a science concept or require the use of math to succeed, but games for the STEM Video Game Challenge to do not have to be educational. Building the game, in and of itself, is educational and is one way of putting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into action and into real-world scenarios.

Players can create entries using their choice of a range of game design applications, including popular free tools and sites like Gamestar Mechanic, Scratch, GameMaker, and Kodu. Each of those tools is a separate entry category, and prizes are awarded for middle and high school winners in each category. Students who are game building using other tools or program languages submit their games in the "Open Platform" category.

The deadline for entries is April 24, 2013, which means you still have plenty of time to whip up your own awesome video game project and show your stuff. Whether it is your very first attempt at video game creation or the next in an impressive string of epic games you've been tweaking, playtesting, and sharing with your friends, take a step toward the public light and put your game out there! There are great prizes up for grabs along with plenty of gamer bragging rights for the winning student video game developers.

Getting Started

If you are interested in the STEM Video Game Challenge but are not sure how to get started with your first game, the following resources and Project Ideas at Science Buddies walk you through some basics, open your eyes to what is possible, and may help get you started on an exciting path of video game and computer innovation! Many aspiring game designers first make the leap from playing to creating by solving crossover challenges at Gamestar Mechanic and then building their own Gamestar Mechanic games. Scratch can also be a great first step for students interested in video game design and/or computer programming. GameMaker offers a different environment and may be a next step in a game coder's evolution.

Scratch tutorials / screenshot
Working through game design tutorials and hands-on projects lets you dive in and get started! Above: a Scratch tutorial being explored and tweaked. As you customize a sample, you become more familiar with how blocks and commands are used.

If the National STEM Video Game Challenge is your goal, the following resources may be helpful as tutorials rather than projects, but as you read through the materials, be sure and load up your game design environment and try some of these ideas hands-on. The best way to learn to make a video game is to make one, and the best way to refine and advance your know-how is to continue to try new things and add to your video game design toolbox. The more you know about how things work in a video game, why they work, and what makes a great game, the stronger your own games may be, so give these projects and resources a look:

If you enter the National STEM Video Challenge, we want to know! Please leave a comment or email blog@sciencebuddies.org to tell us about your game. We would love to feature your work here at Science Buddies, too!



google-sciencefair-logo.jpgThe first Google Science Fair is happening this year!

Designed to be an all-inclusive competition, Google Science Fair 2011 open to students ages 13-18, worldwide. Students are eligible to participate either as individuals or in teams of up to three.

Submissions will be accepted until April 4, 2011. In May, 60 semi-finalists will be announced, and their projects will be posted online for public viewing. The public will have the opportunity to vote for the "People's Choice" award.

Great Prizes Up for Grabs!

At the end of the competition, Google will name 3 finalist winners, one in each age bracket (13-14, 15-16, 17-18). One of these winners will then be named the Grand Prize winner. The grand prize winner will be awarded a National Geographic Expeditions' 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands, a $50,000 scholarship from Google, and additional prizes, including a "once in a lifetime experience" prize from CERN, LEGO, Google, or Scientific American. Finalists also receive a scholarship, a "once in a lifetime experience" opportunity, and a range of other prizes from Google and the fair partners. There is also a $10,000 scholarship for the "People's Choice" winner. For more details, a full list of prizes, and complete contest rules and guidelines, visit the Google Science Fair website.

Great Goldberg


By the way, we at Science Buddies like the Rube Goldberg-styled apparatus the Google team created to highlight the Science Fair on the home page. It's a great example of Goldberg-style engineering—and a lot of fun! The Google team kicked off their launch of the 2011 Science Fair with a live Goldberg-styled display. You can watch it for yourself in the opening seconds of the kickoff video at YouTube!

[For more information about Rube Goldberg and the engineering of simple machines, check this past blog entry: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/blog/2009/10/everyday-tasks-simple-machines-and-engineering-projects-1.php]



Applications are being accepted for the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing until October 15, 2010. U.S. high school girls, grades 9-12, who are interested in computer science or technology are encouraged to apply! Sponsored by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), the award recognizes high school women who have distinguished themselves in the area of computing and technology.

To find out more about NCWIT and the Aspirations in Computing award, visit the website: www.ncwit.org/award.

To explore fun and innovative computer science project ideas at Science Buddies, look at our Scratch and Storytelling Alice projects. Computer Science may not be the way you envision it!




kavli_scivideo_ad3.jpgDo you love science? Do you love taking photos and/or making home movies? Have you ever looked at science photos and thought, "Wow... that's so amazing!" Do you hear a soundtrack running in your head for the wonders and mysteries that science lets you explore?

The USA Science & Engineering Festival's Kavli Science Video Contest is a great opportunity for budding cinematographers and scientists to capture "science" on camera and answer the question: "Why is Science Cool?"

Your Movie, Your Story

What story might you tell? What kinds of images could you string together that might excite someone else about the possibilities of scientific research, discovery, and experimentation?

If you've got a video camera at your disposal, this is a great opportunity for summer fun. Work on your own, or team up with a friend, and create and submit your own movie for the USA Science & Engineering Festival's Kavli Science Video Contest.

Think Big!

The sponsors are looking for cutting-edge videos, so let your imagination loose and bring your creative senses to bear on your favorite area of science. According to the USASEF, "Videos might explore a scientific concept, show us the wonders of nature, give us a glimpse into the future, show us what scientific discovery has done for us in the past or will do for us in the future, introduce us to a great scientist or engineer, tell us why you think science is so cool or simply show us why we should care about science and/or engineering."

It's wide open!


Winners will receive cash prizes for their school, software or electronics prizes, and a trip to the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, DC, October 23 and 24, 2010.

Ready, Set, Record

The submission deadline is July 15, 2010. For more information on video requirements--or to upload your video--visit: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/2010festival/contests/kavli-science-video-contest. (Entering is a two-step process. You'll need to upload your video on the SciVee site as well as fill in the form on the USASEF site.)

Think edgy. Think surprising. Think science. Then hit "record" and see what happens!

Science Buddies is proud to be a USA Science & Engineering Festival partner.


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