ORANGEBURG — South Carolina students interested in science and technology will have an opportunity this spring to showcase what they have learned in the classroom.

The fifth annual S.C. 4-H Engineering Challenge, sponsored by EnlightenSC, offers students ages 9-19 a chance to participate in a multichallenge competition March 25 at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. Organizers of the competition created the event to spur students’ interest in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

Registration is required and open through March 1 online here.

The S.C. 4-H Engineering Challenge gives individuals and teams of students an opportunity to compete in seven competitions, including two new events that spotlight solar energy and photography:

Participants at the 2016 4-H Engineering Challenge build bridges with craft sticks and glue.

Participants at the 2016 4-H Engineering Challenge build bridges with craft sticks and glue.
Image Credit: Scott Miller / Clemson University

Organizers are encouraging families to come with their youth participants to join in the STEM Fair that will be open during the event. Engaging exhibits will be set up around campus with interactive STEM activities and presentations. Organizations interested in providing an exhibit for the event’s STEM Fair can contact event organizer Katie Burch at korishe@clemson.edu.

The event is organized by the 4-H Science on the Move initiative. This statewide initiative from South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science and South Carolina 4-H, the youth development arm of the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, works with schools, after-school programs, county 4-H clubs and community youth organizations to provide education resources that increase students’ interest in and exposure to STEM subjects and careers. By collaborating with local, statewide and national education efforts, 4-H Science on the Move helps maximize community efforts to prepare students for the workforce that South Carolina needs to attract new businesses and encourage economic growth.

“Participating in these competitions helps students improve their problem-solving skills and further explore their interests in engineering,” said Burch, coordinator of 4-H Science on the Move. “We hope that they also become interested in STEM careers. Last year, OC Tech provided a presentation after each competition so the students could see what paths they could take to get to a career related to their competition’s discipline. This year, we hope to bring in engineering professionals to talk to students as well. This can help students realize how their skills and their interests can translate into a career that they would enjoy.”

Participants watch their robot perform in the 2016 4-H Engineering Challenge.

Participants watch their robot perform in the 2016 4-H Engineering Challenge.
Image Credit: Scott Miller/Clemson University

The event’s title sponsor is EnlightenSC, an energy-education initiative developed by the state’s electric cooperatives. The EnlightenSC program and its corresponding website ― EnlightenSC.org ― provide South Carolina teachers with free training opportunities and the online classroom resources they need to easily incorporate energy lessons and get students excited about STEM subjects. All EnlightenSC materials are aligned with state education standards.

“EnlightenSC was created to help inspire young people to solve our state’s energy challenges,” said Lindsey Smith, vice president of education at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. “Early on, we focused exclusively on providing teachers with resources that make teaching energy lessons easier. We’re excited to partner with Clemson and South Carolina 4-H for the third consecutive year to present the engineering challenge. It’s encouraging to see such bright young people working together and solving problems.”

The cost to enter the 2016 S.C. 4-H Engineering Challenge is $15 per team or individual. Interested students, parents or teachers can visit the website at scionthemove.org/engineeringchallenge or contact Burch at korishe@clemson.edu. Participants must register online before March 1.

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