Engineering Science & Tech

Win Big NERD Money with Science

Okay, that headline is a bit misleading, but there is money out there to win. But more importantly, there are fantastic opportunities for your Nerd to experience science, robotics and engineering first hand.

First LEGO League is the Super Bowl for Nerds!

First LEGO League is the Super Bowl for Nerds!

Years ago, my own Nerd wanted to learn about coding. Being the Clueless Dad that I am, I went online to investigate. There are a ton of opportunities to learn to program but a global robotics competition caught my eye. Funny enough, it originated from my own company (I really need to start paying more attention at staff meetings).

First LEGO League is the Super Bowl for Nerds, a global robotics program that encourages imaginative thinking and teamwork. The teams tackle real-world problems like recycling, food safety and energy, and are challenged to develop a solution. As part of the program, they must design, build and program a robot and compete against other teams. Over 250,000 (yes, 250K) fellow nerds from around the world compete.

Wait, you don’t know anything about robotics or programming? Don’t worry, neither did I. FIRST provides plenty of resources to get you up and running. The program also leverages the LEGO Mindstorm robotics platform, so you have the power of LEGO behind it as well (gratuitous plug).

Robotics not your Nerds thing? No worries, there are plenty of great programs out there that they can try:

Google Science Fair – A global online competition to individuals or teams (13-18) focused on #howcanwe make the world a better place. Google provides an incredible array of online resources for your Nerd to take their great idea and make it a reality. Competition closes May 17.Google Science Fair is a global online competition open to individuals or teams from 13 to 18 years old.

The Dupont Challenge – A science essay competition encouraging Nerds to delve deeper into their nerdly interests in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and express themselves with creativity and purpose. In a growing world that faces new challenges each day, Nerds can share their ideas for how science can help keep our global population supplied with food, safety, and clean energy. Submissions due by April 15, 2016

Verizon Innovative App Challenge – This competition is all about the ideas. The challenge is open to middle school (grades 6-8) and high school students (grades 9-12). Each student team submits a 3-minute video along with responses to essay questions, but there is no coding or computer programming required. Winning teams will receive the support they need to bring their ideas to fruition in the form of awesome apps. Submissions open August 2016.

Future Engineers Star Trek Replicator Challenge – Calling all Starfleet cadets! Star Trek™ and NASA want you to engineer the future of food in space. If you are a K-12 student in the United States, your challenge is to create a digital 3D model of a non-edible, food-related item for astronauts to 3D print in the year 2050. Submissions due May 1.

Advice for the Clueless Parent when their own Nerd enters a contest:

  • Expect the Unexpected – Thousands of Nerds enter, only a few win. Keep your expectations in check. The point is to enjoy the experience of creating, inventing and imagining.
  • Seek professional help – Reach out to friends, colleagues or teachers to get advice, guidance and input. Don’t have a scientist on speed dial? Go online and find one at a nearby University. Talk to your Nerd’s science teacher. There are plenty of experts around.
  • Look to the past for the future – Every contest posts past winners. Check them out. They know how to win.
  • Set a schedule – Like their school science project, it will inevitably come down to the last second. But try to build in a schedule that will allow them to reach their goal and still stay creative.
  • Have fun! – Bottom line, it’s about the experience. They may not win, but they’ll remember it forever.

Good Nerding!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Shannon
    July 18, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    There’s also the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl! http://science.energy.gov/wdts/nsb/ Middle and high school student teams compete against each other.

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