Getting Started with the Action Challenge
The Fluid Power Action Challenge was developed for middle school students to increase awareness of fluid power technology and to promote critical thinking, teamwork and problem-solving skills. This fun and engaging event allows students to learn the engineering design process and see their fluid power machines come to life when they meet to compete against their peers. The Fluid Power Action Challenge provides a bridge from the classroom to the community by teaching students about the technology and its applications, which creates needed visibility in the minds of tomorrow’s workforce so they can consider fluid power as a career path.
plan an event in your community
The event is typically made up of a Workshop Day and Challenge Day as described below. More information is available on the event timeline and logistics, grant funding, and how to involve industry representatives.
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."
Plan Your Own Event
How it Works
This program is designed for provide you with the resources you need to plan your own Action Challenge event. A library of reference materials and templates are available for you to choose from to host your own competition.
NFPA offers grants of up to $500 to help host or participate in an Action 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.