“Contests”, as used in this context, are not highly competitive events. It is a challenge in which students are competing in two ways. They are competing against themselves to do their very best. And of course there is the competition of doing better than others in the class. Anytime you do project based education students will be looking around to see how others are doing. Try to minimize the competition against each other and emphasize the process more than the product.
In each “contest” process is important. There needs to be a planning stage, a building stage, testing stage, revising stage and then a trial contest. For almost any project there are online resources, plans and even kits. Never let your students use kits. These “contests” are to promote inquiry learning and if a student uses a kit they miss many of the benefits of the process.
If you can change the contest enough to make it unique it makes the students do more of their own thinking. These are ideas, they are starters, you can think up your own “contests.”
The following "contests" are outlined:
* Paper Tower
* Toothpick Bridge
* Save the Ice Cube
* Solar Hot Water Contest
* Paper Bridge
* Mouse Trap Car Contest