3D Design STEM

New 3D Design Contest

3D design
Written by Lori Gracey

Promote STEM thinking as your high school students create a 3D design to solve a real-world problem in this new contest from TCEA.

TCEA is pleased to announce a new opportunity for students to showcase their learning using technology in our 3D Design Contest. Open to students in grades 9-12 during its pilot year (2016-2017), teams will be tasked with identifying a real-world problem that currently is a limitation to an individual. Then, they will design a solution to that problem using 3D software.

The contest is intended to promote STEM activities for students and encourage them to solve problems with a systematic process. No 3D printer is required in order to enter, which provides a level playing field for all high school students.

The Engineering Design Process

Student teams will need to approach their problem working like a group of engineers and using the Engineering Design Process (EDP). The process is a particular course of action and sequence of operations intended to achieve a result or produce an outcome. EDP consists of the following steps:

  • Research3D design
  • Plan
  • Prototype
  • Document and Test
  • Commercialize

All teams will be responsible for keeping a logbook (digital version encouraged) where they record notes, ideas, sketches, and documents each time they meet. The logbook should describe in detail each step of the Engineering Design Process during the creation of their invention.

Public school students who do not have access to 3D software may receive free copies of SketchUp Pro from TCEA. The software is normally $495 per license, but is provided at no charge. Private schools may purchase copies of the software for as little as $15 per seat.

How Entries Will Be Judged

Judging criteria will be based on students presenting their step-by-step design process, as well as the documentation from their logbook. In addition, a one-minute (or less) presentation will be created by the team marketing their invention. A rubric will be used to judge the entries and will consist of the following categories:

  • Originality
  • Feasibility
  • Functionality
  • Sustainability

Half of the points possible in scoring will be based on the EDP logbook. Students should use the 3D Design Scoring Rubric as a guide for planning their project and presentation. NOTE: The design does not need to be printed out for contest entry, but teams may elect to print out prototypes throughout the process for their own use. Sponsors are invited to provide feedback on the rubric before it is finalized on February 28, 2017. You may view the rubric here and email comments to Holli Horton, TCEA Membership Chair.

3D Design Contest Rules

Students and sponsors will need to follow the rules below:

  • Teams will consist of one team sponsor and no more than four students. Students are not allowed to participate on more than one team.
  • The team sponsor must be an active TCEA member for the duration of the contest season.  
  • All teams are required to have a team name that meets common school standards.
  • All of the work for the contest must take place between March 1 and March 31, 2017.
  • The presentation may be in any format the team prefers as long as it takes no more than one minute to view. This could include video, PowerPoint, Google Slides, Prezi, or any other presentation tool. Any material that exceeds the one-minute limit will not be viewed or considered for judging.
  • Participants will sign a “Proof of Originality” form stating that their design was created solely by their team.
  • A campus may submit no more than one project for judging. If a school has more teams that want to participate, they are encouraged to hold their own local contest and submit the best entry to TCEA.
  • Again, no printed design is required for the contest.

Registering for the Contest

Registration for the contest is currently open and is $50 for each participating team. The top five designs will be announced in May and will be awarded trophies for their school and medals for each winning team member. We encourage you to register your team today!

For more information about the 3D Design Contest, please see details on our website.


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About the author

Lori Gracey

Lori Gracey has 28 years of experience in education, with 22 years as a curriculum and technology director. She currently serves as the executive director of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) and is responsible for training technology directors, administrators, curriculum supervisors, and teachers across the country. During her nine years in this position, she has led TCEA in membership and revenue growth, helped to pay off their building and purchase a new, larger building, and implemented new conferences, partnerships with other associations, and professional development opportunities for members and non-members. She serves more than 17,000 members and oversees a staff of 21. Lori is also on the board of the Texas Society of Association Executives and SXSWedu and recently served as the Regional Program Chair for the ISTE 2017 Convention in San Antonio.

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