2020 K'NEX STEM Design Challenge - TIU 11 Region - TIU11 STEM Initiatives

Information regarding TIU STEM activities


2020 K’NEX STEM Design Challenge @ TIU 11

April 2nd – Grades 4 & 5
April 3rd – Grades 6-8


On April 2nd and 3rd, TIU 11 will host its 6th K’NEX STEM Design Challenge at the Main Office of TIU 11 in McVeytown.  The top team in each division will be invited to attend the state competition on May 17th in Harrisburg.

A limited number of free kits are available for those who need them.   Teachers can apply for these kits using the separate form available below.  We will distribute the kits, one per teacher, while supplies last.  An official kit is not needed to participate – all K’NEX pieces are permitted. 

2020 Challenge

By conserving energy, we can reduce air and water pollution, lower our electric bill and create a healthier planet. Your team’s challenge is to create a way of conserving energy in the future. For example, transforming energy from one object to power another or creating a new type of energy to power a city.  Create a model of your energy conservation idea out of K’Nex pieces. Be creative!

Additional Middle School Challenge: Teams competing in the grades 6-8 division will also be asked to present a budget of their project. They will need to inventory each K’Nex piece they use and list a price for each piece. They will need to present their inventory and an overall cost of their project.  The “Cost Per Part List” is available here.


  • A team of four students (maximum) will work together on the project.  Teams of fewer students are permitted, but teams of four are strongly encouraged.  Teams may not use alternates.  
  • Each project must use at least 1 motor.
  • Teams may use up to 1400 pieces. Any pieces, as long as they are K’Nex, may be used.
  • Schools must bring their K’Nex kits on the day of the competition.
  • Students will have 2 hours to put together their project at the competition.
  • No pieces may be brought to the competition already joined.
  • Each team will need to bring a journal and a blueprint to the competition.
  • Each team will need to prepare a presentation (max 2 minutes) on their model and how they answered the challenge. Middle school students will also need to present their inventory.
  • The model is a representation of your idea. Each team will need to create a presentation that describes their idea in more detail.
  • Projects must fit on a 6-foot long table.
  • No water or live objects may be used in the project.
  • Teams may use background materials but those will not be judged as part of the project.
  • String and rubber bands may be used.

Judging Criteria:

  • Creativity
  • Teamwork
  • Challenge Success
  • Design
  • Presentation


  • Awards will be given to top three teams in grades 4-5 and grades 6-8
  • Additional prizes may be awarded (best blueprint, most creative, etc.)
  • Top team in each division at each regional competition will advance to the state competition

Parts of the competition:

  • Journal – This should be a diary of the team’s journey from start to finish.
  • Blueprint
    • Can be a photo, drawing, cad drawing, etc. Be creative!
    • Students may present this on a tablet/ laptop but judges will not award additional points for technology.
  • Project
    • Teams may include a backdrop or artwork but judges will not consider this in their scoring.
    • Must use at least 1 motor.
    • Cannot exceed 1400 pieces.
  • Presentation
    • Each presentation will be 2 minutes or less
    • Students may use a tablet/ laptop but will not be awarded any additional points
    • Middle school students must also present their inventory and cost

A printable description of the challenge can be accessed at this link.  The middle school competition rubric is available at this link.  The elementary competition rubric is available at this link.