How can educational institutions participate in an engineering contest?

Posted by Ronald | August 7, 2013  |  No Comment

Educational institutions are constantly looking for resources to improve their learning environment. Sometimes these resources come in different ways such as a contest. So, the critical questions to be asked are: How can educational institutions participate in an engineering contest? What is the value of this contest for learning STEM skills? What will be the winnings for this contest?

With a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Vernier Software & Technology is a leading innovator of scientific data-collection technology for 32 years and is the sponsor of the 2014 Engineering Contest. Through innovative uses of Vernier’s sensors, the contest recognizes STEM educators for introducing students to engineering concepts and practices. Both a middle and high school teacher and a college instructor will each win prizes valued at $5,500.

In order to participate in the engineering contest, educators must submit a video showcasing the use of Vernier sensors in an experiment or project. The sensors may be used with Vernier’s Logger Pro software, NI LabVIEW software, LEGO NXT or EV3, VEX or any other system incorporating Vernier sensors. Applications are due by January 15, 2014, and they will be judged on innovation, engineering objectives and the ease whereby others can replicate the experiment or project. In line with the Next Generation Science Standards, middle and high school candidates are asked to explain how the project addresses the engineering practices.

On March 5, 2014, the winners of the contest will be announced through the Vernier website and Facebook page. Specifically, the winners will receive $3,000 in Vernier technology, $1,000 in cash and $1,500 towards expenses to attend the 2014 American Society for Engineering Education conference or the 2014 National Science Teachers’ Association STEM conference.

Having resources to prepare students for a competitive workforce such as STEM skills are highly rewarded according to a recent Brookings report. For example, STEM workers with a bachelor’s degree or additional educational experience earn an average salary of $88,000 compared to $66,000 for non-STEM workers with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. The Vernier Engineering Contest is one way to teach STEM skills.

According to David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier Software & Technology, “there are thousands of ways technology can be used to teach engineering concepts and to engage students with problem-solving and engineering practices. For over thirty years, we have been helping teachers incorporate sensor technology into engineering activities, and we have seen teachers design their own creative sensor-based activities as well. The Vernier Engineering Contest recognizes and awards teachers for their innovative uses of technology with students and provides a great way for them to showcase these best practices to fellow educators.”

In March 2013, Janathan Aurnou and Peter Shimer from the University of California Los Angeles and Nelson Nunalee from Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, North Carolina were named the winners of the 2013 Vernier Engineering Contest. They were selected by a panel of Vernier educational experts for using Vernier sensors with National Instruments LabVIEW software to create a virtual musical instrument and to conduct a transiting exoplanet experiment. For additional information on the 2014 Vernier Engineering Contest and to submit an entry, visit

Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of three books, “Education Questions to be Answered,” “Current Issues and Answers in Education” and “How to Eradicate Hazing.” He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is the national superintendent of education for the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at [email protected]

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