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Roger That! Design Challenge

To commemorate the life of native son, Roger B. Chaffee, and the brave astronauts of Apollo 1, Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Public Museum are hosting a symposium on the weekend of February 10 - 11, 2017.

We invite interested 6th - 12th grade students in the greater Grand Rapids area to participate in the Roger That! Design Challenge. Separate awards will be presented for 6th - 8th grade and 9th - 12th grade based on juried competition and popular vote. 

Challenge Topic Categories

  • Humans in Space (e.g., bone and muscle loss in zero gravity, harmful radiation effects, etc.)
  • Communities in Space (e.g., structures & materials to protect from radiation, terraforming, etc.)
  • Robots in space (e.g., search & rescue, maintenance, exploration of hostile environments, etc.)

Examples of things you can do

  • Build physical devices (robots, model structures, etc.) or computer models
  • Design materials or measurement devices
  • Explain concepts and discuss solutions to challenges or opportunities within the challenge topics

How to participate

  1. Form a team (recommended team size is 3-7 students, large classes are encouraged to form multiple teams of students working on separate projects)
  2. Select one of the three challenge topic categories and research the unique obstacles or opportunities that exist within your chosen field of study
  3. Create a “How might we…?” question for the challenge or opportunity your team has discovered. For example:  Category - Robots in Space - “How might we design a robot or machine to extract and return water from distant planets and moons?”
  4. Work with your team to design a solution to your question
  5. Submit your project documentation to by January 27, 2017
  6. Present your project on Friday, February 10 at GVSU and Saturday, February 11 at GRPM

Presentation of project

Required for all teams:

  • Project documentation (see below)
  • Poster presentation (team members will interact with judges and the public)

Optional ancillary materials (examples)

  • Physical or computer models
  • Websites
  • Movies, slide show presentations, etc.

Project Documentation

(up to 5 pages including figures and bibliography):

  1. Your reason(s) for choosing the problem
  2. Your research into the problem
  3. Your solution to the problem
  4. Something(s) you learned that surprised you
  5. The most challenging part of your project

Juried awards will be based on

  • Project documentation (content, scientific accuracy, grammar, appropriate referencing)
  • Poster presentation (project knowledge, ability to answer questions, organization)
  • Innovation (creativity and originality)

For any other questions or concerns please contact us at