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STEM Design Challenge

Division: A- Elementary

NC Essential Standards Alignment: 4.P.2, 5.P.1, Science as Inquiry

Event Rules and Score Sheets: See 2023 Division A Rule Manual


1/17/23: Is a design that is more of a ‘punch’, for example, powered by the release of stretched rubber bands, acceptable?  

The rules state the putter must be triggered to “trip a switch, lever or string that releases the putting arm so that the lowest most part of the putting arm strikes the golf ball causing it to roll across the carpet towards the target.” The rules also state that the device must “go through a putting motion” and “will be struck by the swing of the putting arm.” A “punch” is not a putting motion or a swing so it would be disqualified.


This is a building event. Teams must work to design and build a structure that will solve a task as outlined in the rules.

2023: Teams must build a putting device on site using only the materials and tools specified below. Teams will design and practice their putting device many times before arriving at the competition to be successful.


Teams MUST bring the specified tools, string, tape, and their box full of K’nex materials. Teams may bring only 1 piece of paper no larger than 8.5” x 11” containing pictures, notes, or drawings to help them.  No other resources are allowed.

Event leaders will provide the golf ball, sticky colored dots (or painter’s tape), score sheets, unsharpened starter pencils, and any measuring devices needed. This event must take place on low pile carpet. 


Teams will be ranked into tiers based on adherence to the challenge instructions. Within each tier, teams must be ranked based on the scoring criteria for the build-off selected.


Make sure the lid fits flush on the top of the box, and likewise do not bring any prohibited materials or tools, even if teams do not plan on using them.

Any K’nex pieces can be used from any kit to construct the challenges. If your team has an obscure piece or you think it might be questioned, feel free to include a picture of the part in the box showing that it is a K’nex piece.

Event Resources:

PBS Kids Design Squad – Practice design challenges
Classroom Compass article on teaching design principles in the classroom
Engineering for Kids – links for learning engineering techniques