Are you ready to showcase the strength of steel — or are you stumped? Either way, we've got some tips to get you started on your journey with steel!
Step 1: Brainstorm
Steel is everywhere! Start thinking about what you can use to build your structure.
- List steel that you find at school and home to start brainstorming:
- You can find steel at school in classrooms, hallways and offices. Many office supplies, like staples, paper clips, and some rulers are made of steel. So are lockers and filing cabinets.
- Steel can be found all around the house — in soup, fruit, and vegetable cans, bicycle and car frames, and some kitchen appliances.
- Some cans, like those used for soft drinks, are made of aluminum. Here are two ways to figure out what type of can you have in the closet: (1) Step on it. An aluminum can will crush easily, a steel can won’t. (2) Do the magnet test — steel is one of the few magnetic materials in the world.
- You can also find steel in construction: bridges, buildings, wind turbines, etc.
- Research: Why don’t magnets stick to stainless steel?
- Remember to “think green”: Soup, fruit, and vegetable cans are all made of recycled steel. So are some paper clips.
Step 2: Build Your Steel Team
- Go to www.strengthofsteelchallenge.com/careers to learn about various roles and responsibilities. Who is a metallurgist? What do research and development specialists do?
- Now, build your own team for the challenge. Do you see yourself as a metallurgist — or maybe a mechanical engineer? Maybe you can take on two or more jobs. How do your teammates fit in? Maybe there’s a completely different role — not listed here — that needs to be filled on your team.
- Define positions and responsibilities of all team members.
Step 3: Identify Your Challenge & Show Your Strength!
- Brainstorm with your teammates to discover what type of structure your team will build. Remember it needs to hold AT LEAST 5 pounds. The more weight it holds the better!
- Write down the challenge categories — structures that can be used at home, school, or in a vehicle.
- Next to each category, write down ideas for at least two inventions.
- If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, take some time to look around your home. Is there something — like a computer monitor, TV screen, or stereo — that needs to be supported? Think about your hobbies. Could you use a rack to hold sporting equipment? Or maybe you need a stand for your bicycle. Think of ways you can organize your things in the car or in your school locker.
If your team is chosen as a semifinalist, you need to be able to transport your structure to Charlotte, NC for the final judging event! A smaller structure, or one that can be dismantled, will be easier to transport. And consider this: A small structure that can hold 50 pounds is more impressive than a larger piece that holds the same amount of weight.
Step 4: Design
- Pick the best invention idea from your list.
- Start doodling: What will your structure look like?
- What is the maximum load it can bear?
- List all the materials and tools you will need to build your structure: bearings, links, connectors, etc.
- How much steel can you use in your construction?
- What percentage of your building material is recycled?
- Do you want to be able to disassemble it easily to transport it?
- Start building!!!
Reminder: Sometimes your first design may not always your best. Keep scribbling until you feel you’ve perfected your idea — and start building only then. This will make your building process faster and easier.
Step 5: Refine Your Design
Brainstorm how you can make your design better using an exercise called SCAMMPERR. On a piece of paper, answer these questions about your structure:
- Substitute: What can I build instead? What other materials can I use?
- Combine: How can I combine different parts or ideas?
- Adapt: Is there something that already exists that is similar to my structure? What could I add to my structure? How can I change it?
- Minify: How can I make the structure smaller? Should I use less equipment?
- Magnify: How can I make my structure bear more weight? Should I add something or increase the amount of something?
- Put to other uses: Is there a new way to use the structure? For example, can it be used at school instead of at home?
- Eliminate: What can I get rid of? Can I condense or combine some things?
- Reverse: Would the structure work better if it were turned backward or upside down?
- Rearrange: How can I interchange components?
Step 6: Test Your idea
Get thoughts and reactions to understand if your idea really works. Use your friends and family as sounding boards to critique your idea. The Nucor Strength of Steel Challenge REQUIRES you to name your invention. Choose a name that best defines it – it is an important part of the description!
Your team must include a photo of the completed structure. You can include up to two additional images to help illustrate your design. If your team is chosen as a semifinalist, you will have to present your design to a panel of judges.
Step 7: Enter the Nucor Strength of Steel Challenge