Bucks IU announces 2022 STEM Design Challenge winners

On March 25th the Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) staged a surprise award presentation to the winning teams of this year’s STEM Design Challenge! Each year, the Bucks IU facilitates the county-wide STEM Design Challenge competition for students in grades 4-8. Elementary teams (grades 4-5) and middle school teams (grades 6-8) work for several months on a response to the design challenge that is posed by the statewide STEM Design Challenge Committee. The Bucks IU facilitates the competition for Bucks County public and non-public schools. The winning teams advance to the statewide competition. 

“The Bucks IU is proud to lead educational programs like the STEM Design Challenge for students throughout Bucks County. Congratulations to every student that participated! Countywide activities like the STEM Design Challenge represent the incredible ways our school systems work together in Bucks County to bring world class opportunities to the students we are fortunate to serve every day,” stated Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU Executive Director.

The 2022 STEM Design Challenge broke all previous Bucks County records with 127 elementary team and 87 middle school team participating! This year’s challenge was based on a need to improve a transportation system. The complete challenge statement as determined by the statewide STEM Design Challenge Committee was as follows:

Student STEM Design Challenge submission using recycled materisls.“Infrastructure is the framework of our world. Buildings, roads, and power supplies are part of the infrastructure needs of our society. Your challenge is to improve our transportation system. Think of current transportation systems like air travel, vehicle travel, bicycling, etc. In what ways can they be improved to create a safer, healthier, and cleaner world? Or does your team have an idea for a new transportation system? Create a prototype that shows this improved, or new, transportation system. Demonstrate how your system works by moving a ping pong ball (or similar object) through your prototype.”

Student STEM Design Challenge submission using K'Nex pieces.Student teams needed to create a design notebook, blueprint of their planned piece, and prototype using recyclable materials or K’Nex pieces (a rod and connector building system). Using recyclable materials was a new option this year that seemed to be warmly embraced by many teams and added another layer of creativity to some of the submissions. 

Above: Design solutions could use recyclable materials and/or K’Nex pieces.Another Student STEM Design Challenge submission using K'Nex.Each team submitted their documents and a presentation video virtually this year and then volunteer judges viewed and scored each teams’ project. Judges are teachers, school administrators, or STEM professionals. Judges are assigned specific teams to score by the Bucks IU to ensure that no judge was associated with teams they were viewing.

The Bucks IU STEAM team broadcast the awards ceremony live via Zoom from two ‘secret’ locations: the schools of the winning elementary and middle school teams. When it was time to announce each winning team, the Bucks IU team members turned off their virtual background on Zoom and walked (live on Zoom) to the winning teams’ classrooms! As the students watched the presentation ceremonies live, the winners were shocked to suddenly see people coming down the hallways of their own schools! Squeals of excitement could be heard up and down the hallways as the students realized what was happening.  Awards, certificates, and balloons were presented to the winners.

This year’s Bucks County STEM Design Challenges winners are:

MIDDLE SCHOOLS (Grades 6-8):

  • Most Creative
    • Sol Feinstone Elementary School (Team 51) – Council Rock School District;
  • Most Environmentally Friendly
    • William Penn Middle School (Team 79) – Pennsbury School District;
  • Best Teamwork
    • Sol Feinstone Elementary School (Team 50) – Council Rock School District;
  • 3rd Place Overall
    • Holland Middle School (Team 14) – Council Rock School District;
  • 2nd Place Overall
    • Pennwood Middle School (Team 27) – Pennsbury School District;
  • 1st Place Overall
    • Goodnoe Elementary School (Team 9) – Council Rock School District.


  • Most Creative
    • Quakertown Elementary School (74) – Quakertown Community School District;
  • Most Environmentally Friendly
    • Snyder Girotti Elementary School (Team 90) – Bristol Borough School District;
  • Best Teamwork
    • Wrightstown Elementary School (Team 118) – Council Rock School District;
  • 3rd Place Overall
    • New Hope-Solebury Upper Elementary School (Team 46) – New Hope-Solebury School District;
  • 2nd Place Overall
    • Richboro Elementary School (Team 81) – Council Rock School District;
  • 1st Place Overall
    • New Hope-Solebury Upper Elementary School (Team 47) – New Hope-Solebury School District.

Dr. Lindsey Sides, Bucks IU Supervisor of STEAM Education, stated “Each year we are amazed by the engineering skills and creativity of the student participants. The STEM Design Challenge allows students to expand their knowledge and experience of STEM fields of interest while also building teamwork skills. We are proud and delighted by the continued growth and interest in the challenge and congratulate all of this year’s participants.” 

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