#STEMdrivesOhio challenge question, professional development, and other resources

The Ohio STEM Learning Network will host a statewide design challenge for K-12 students. This year, we’re partnering with DriveOhio to explore the topic of Smart Mobility through the #STEMdrivesOhio Design Challenge.  DriveOhio is a partnership of the state agencies housed in the Ohio Department of Transportation and devoted to advancing the Smart Mobility in our state.

In simple terms, Smart Mobility means using emerging technologies to improve the mobility of people and goods. It’s the use of new technologies to move things from Point A to Point B in the safest, most convenient and most cost-effective way. From autonomous vehicles, hyperloop technology, or simply making ride-sharing more accessible to people with disabilities, there are a number of ways to engage students in this topic AND incorporate learning standards.

DriveOhio uses five “SMART” pillars– Safety, Mobility, Access, Reliability and Talent – guide its team as they work to deploy smart mobility solutions across the state.

This year’s challenge asks students to consider smart mobility to improve their community’s well-being. That’s a big question, so we used the SMART pillars to break down the question into smaller bits. You may tackle any aspect of smart mobility, but solutions need to tie back to the main question.

This year’s challenge question is: How might you re-imagine mobility in your community to increase your community’s happiness/well-being?

  • Safety: How can you make transportation safer in your community?
  • Mobility: How do we make improvements to the way people and goods move around your community? This could be an opportunity to invent a new mode of transportation, improve on an existing system, or combine transportation modes to increase efficiency.
  • Accessibility: How do we make sure that all people have access to transportation, regardless of economic, geographic or physical limitations?
  • Reliability: How can we better predict travel times, road conditions, or make the best use of infrastructure and resources?
  • Talent:   How do we train people to use emerging technologies related to transportation?

Why participate?

Through #STEMdrivesOhio Design Challenge, students practice solving real-world problems, collaborate with others, consult with experts, and gain experience using the engineering design cycle. The Ohio STEM Learning Network selects the challenge and works with partner organizations to provide supports to teachers and schools. Schools implement the challenge locally.

How to participate

In past years, schools incorporated the design challenge into individual classes, extra-curricular activities, or even experiences for entire grade-levels or schools. The choice is yours. Here’s what we ask of participating schools:

  • Students must work in teams to create, design, and prototype their solution to the problem.
  • Teams must create a physical prototype of their solution. The prototype does not have to be a working model, but students need to explain how it would work. If it can be operational, it should be.
  • The school must have a local showcase, or exhibition of student work, where students present to an “authentic” audience—parents, community members, and/or experts who know about the problem.
  • Each school selects one team to present at the statewide showcase at Battelle in May 2020.

Timeline for the challenge

When you do the challenge is up to each school. Some schools work on it over a grading period, while others do it over a few weeks. It’s entirely up to you, with these guidelines:

  • Let us know you are participating. We will send a form out to get your confirmation later this fall.
  • Schedule your school showcase and let us know when it is. Our staff will try to attend as many school showcases as possible. School showcases must be completed by Friday, April 24th, to be eligible to participate in the Student Solutions Showcase at Battelle.

How do I get more information?

If you are interested in learning more about the challenge, sign up here. This is not a commitment to do the challenge, just yet. Signing up for the list does keep you informed about the challenge. Later this fall, we will ask for commitments from schools.

Supports for teachers

We’re collaborating with our partners to provide several supports throughout the year including:

#STEMdrivesOhio Professional Development

Join us on October 3, 2019 for full day of professional development at COSI. The #STEMdrivesOhio Professional Development will be a free, fun opportunity to learn about Smart Mobility and get some tips on leading a design challenge with your students.

We will have experts on hand from DriveOhio, Smart Columbus, COSI, and the PAST Foundation to get you ready to take on the challenge.

Even if you’re not sure about participating this year—the event will be a great opportunity to learn.

Register here:

PAST Foundation Professional Development

The PAST Foundation offers a 3-week online course in Smart Mobility and design thinking as a cohort of the organization’s P3: Applied course. The program includes a half-day onsite workshop featuring hands-on activities related to #STEMdrivesOhio Design Challenge. Registration closes September 3.

Read about the course here.

Coming soon: Design Challenge website

This year, we’ll be unveiling a new dedicated website for resources to support the design challenge at your school. The site will be a one-stop-shop for all design challenge information, including information on Smart Mobility, and design challenge logistics. Be sure to sign up above to hear when the site is launched.

Coming soon: Teacher resources

Metro Early College High School will create and share resources on the design challenge, like a design brief, suggested timeline, and implementation guides.


In 2019, over 4,000 students participated in the #STEMfeedsOhio Design Challenge! We hope to make this year’s design challenge the best yet. We can’t wait to see what your students create!

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