Getting Started with the Action Challenge
The goal of the Fluid Power Action Challenge is to not only introduce students to the concepts of engineering and learning by experimentation, but also to show them the value of teamwork and project management. The Fluid Power Action Challenge is made up of a Workshop Day and a Challenge Day.
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On Workshop Day, teams learn about the basics of fluid power – what it is, how it works, and how it is used in everyday life. They also get the chance to learn about what careers in the fluid power industry are like, and how they can start pursuing those. Next, teams build basic pneumatic kits and begin developing the skills they’ll be using in the Action Challenge competition. They start working on machines that rotate and lift objects. Workshop Day wraps up by giving the students the Action Challenge problem – what they are actually tasked with doing at the Challenge. Teams are asked to build a machine that can move an object from one location to another, and are given all of the tools and a kit of supplies that they will need. Over the coming weeks, they develop a plan, and start building!
On Challenge Day, the teams come together again to use the same tools and an identical kit of supplies in recreating their unique machine, which they use in the competition to pick up weighted objects and place them on various level platforms. Teams are judged on their portfolio, design, teamwork and total machine points. They can win in any of these areas! As the teams work during the allotted time, Challenge Judges observe the teams and interview students, asking them about how they came up with their design and how they work together as a team. When the time is up, the teams all gather together and put their machines to the test. The judges keep score as teams use their machines, seeing how many objects they can move in the allowed time.
"[The students] make amazing connections with other people. They learn how to work together and get past problems when they haven’t gotten there and that’s a skill that is very hard to teach them in a normal classroom setting – how to persevere when you hit the wall. And they come together every time no matter what. It’s amazing, so I’m really glad we discovered the program."
"We have kids that are not always really successful in the classroom because they’re not great at doing a lot of the classroom things, but they love hands-on things and love to build. When I get to see them successfully build something that they imagined in their mind and that they got to build, it is incredible."
Access a library of reference materials for event coordinators, facilitators and judges.
NFPA offers grants to help host your Challenge event. Find out more and apply here!
The best way for students to learn about the fluid power industry is to get connected to NFPA members. Find out how industry can get involved with and support the Fluid Power Action Challenge.