COLUMBUS, Ohio/October 26, 2022 — The “We (Heart) Veterans Pin Design” challenge is back for its second year, inviting 4-12th grade students to put their 3D design skills to the test to show their appreciation for U.S. veterans. The Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), will again sponsor the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) challenge in partnership with Future Engineers, an organization that administers free, online STEM competitions for students.
“Unique and creative challenges like these help open students’ eyes to the diverse possibilities of STEM,” said Christina L. Weber, Chief of STEM Education & Outreach and AEOP Cooperative Agreement Manager at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM HQ). “On the surface, designing a pin might not seem like a STEM challenge, but students quickly see how they need their engineering and 3D design skills to complete the challenge. Encouraging students to use their STEM knowledge in new and different ways helps spark curiosity and a desire to learn.”
“3D printing develops both creative and critical thinking skills that can benefit students in so many ways,” says Deanne Bell, Founder and CEO of Future Engineers. “A challenge that flexes students’ creative muscle, teaches engineering design, and celebrates our veterans is a wonderful thing to see come to life.”
Last year the competition reached 2,741 students from across the country, and ten finalists had their pins 3D printed and distributed to veterans at the National Veterans Memorial Museum in Columbus, Ohio. Last year’s winner, Eden, a middle school student from Lewis Center, OH, will celebrate Veterans Day this year, November 12th, with an event at the museum where she will hand out the pins she designed to veterans in attendance.
“As a teacher, we are always looking for new and exciting ways to engage our students in STEM,” said Kristin Marconi, a teacher at Olentangy Orange Middle School. “The ‘We (Heart) Veterans’ Pin Design Challenge offered a fun way to teach our students about engineering and 3D design while showing gratitude for those who have served our country. This was an amazing opportunity for our teachers to work together across the content areas and create a meaningful project for our students. We are excited to bring the challenge back to our classrooms for a second year.”
This year, the challenge will also be open to high school students and judged in two grade categories, 4th – 8th and 9th – 12th. To enter, students will flex their design and engineering skills by creating a digital 3D model of a wearable pin that celebrates their unique appreciation for our veterans. The challenge is free to enter, and the landing page features no-cost resources and tools for students and teachers alike.
All entries will be reviewed by judges, including US service members and veterans. Ten finalists will be selected from two grade bands (20 finalists total), 4th – 8th and 9th – 12th and their designs will be 3D printed and distributed to the veterans that visit the National Veterans Memorial Museum. Finalists will also each receive five prints of their design and a $100 gift card toward a professional 3D print. The challenge winners (two grand prize winners total) will win a trip for two to Columbus, OH, to attend a special event at the National Veterans Memorial Museum. Each winner will also receive a 3D printer donated to the school, library, or organization of their choice. Learn more and register for the challenge here.