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“STEM GOES ON” - Riverview IU#6 HOSTS 2021 STEM DESIGN CHALLENGE 6th-8th Grade Division

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Kelsi Wilcox Boyles                                                 

(814) 226-7103 ext. 5211


6th-8th Grade Division


(Clarion - April 2021) Riverview Intermediate Unit #6 recently coordinated the STEM Design Challenge for 6th-8th grade students. This year, the challenge was a virtual experience. Teams were up against many obstacles in preparation, with some team members learning from home, while others in the classroom at school, along with a new competition format to become familiar with and learn. Despite these challenges, five teams of students from Cranberry Area, Punxsutawney Area, and Union school districts participated in this year’s STEM Design Challenge, taking on new challenge components and excelling in creativity and design thinking. 


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to encourage students to apply critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills across all of their content areas. 


The STEM Design Challenge is sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific. The challenge involves keeping a journal, developing a blueprint, using K’nex pieces or any other recyclable material to build the project, and a presentation. This year's task was to rethink a product found in a home or create one that should be found in a home. This could be a new or different way to power a home, a new or updated appliance, a new gadget for home entertainment, etc. In the past, each team would prepare a two-minute presentation and present to a panel of judges, though this year, teams were asked to utilize a multimedia tool of their choice and create a pre-recorded two-minute presentation to share their project components with the judges. Judges then reviewed projects virtually, through the use of electronic rubrics and collaborative notes documents. The awards ceremony also took place virtually on March, 31, 2021.


6th & 8th Grade Division:

1st Place

  • First Place: SOUNDNET (Sound Oscillations Undergoing Newly Designed Noise to Electricity Transfiguration), Team Members: Cooper Grahams, Conner Zerbe, Dane Wenner, Jordan Zerbe, Advisor: Gayle Mitchell, Cranberry Area SD

2nd Place

  • Second Place: C.H.I.P, A Cooking Robot, Team Members: Chelsey Wright, Deryk DeLong, and Emmelina Emanuele, Advisor: Gayle Mitchell, Cranberry Area SD

3rd Place

  • Third Place and Best Presentation: Windmill Powered Projector, Hannah Mohney. and Abbi Zampini. Advisors Courtney McKenrick and Nicole Hill, Punxsutawney SD
  • Most Creative Idea: Virtual Reality Classroom (VRC) Experience, Team Members: Kelsey Hanna, Liliana Emanuele, and Kayla Hanna, Advisor: Gayle Mitchell, Cranberry SD


The first place team will represent Riverview IU6 and their district at the state competition to be held virtually in May 2021.


Riverview IU6 would like to thank team advisors, Gayle Mitchell, Cranberry Area SD; Nicole Hill and Courtney McKenrick, Punxsutawney Area SD; and Nicole Claypoole, Union Area SD. We would also like to give a big thank you to this year’s judges, Dr. Jacqueline Manno, RIU#6 Board Member and Clarion University of PA Science Education Professor; Dr. Sheila Kazar, Clarion University of PA Biology and Environmental Sciences Professor; Sheila Hockman, Brookville Equipment; Bridget Kennedy, Clarion University of PA, Science in Motion Educator.

The STEM Design Challenge is coordinated annually by the Education Programs Department at Riverview Intermediate Unit #6. The STEM Design Challenge, along with the Governor STEM Competition and Media and Design Competition are available to all private and public schools in the Riverview IU#6 region. Please contact Kelsi Wilcox Boyles <> if you’d like to learn more about these student opportunities.