STEAM Tank Challenge

About the STEAM Tank Challenge

The STEAM Tank Challenge encourages students to apply science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) in response to issues facing the world today. The challenge is open to K-12 public school students in New Jersey. It lets students contribute to making the country sustainable, healthy, equitable, and safe. The New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) created the program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Army.

Students apply as teams to invent something new, modify an existing product, or identify a situation or real-world problem that needs attention. Teams are provided criteria, and a panel of experts judges their designs and/or solutions. This year’s virtual competition challenges students to use the digital environment in their creativity.

The program encourages students and teachers to work collaboratively. It also supports the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Board of education members can earn Board Member Academy credits by attending a STEAM Tank event.

STEAM Tank is an opportunity for your students to share their ideas and make a difference.

Why STEAM Tank

Supporting STEAM learning will enable our students to compete in the global marketplace and drive New Jersey’s growth. It supports education that equips students to identify real-world situations, solve problems, innovate, and present creative solutions.

STEAM Tank Design

The STEAM Tank Challenge consists of three levels: elementary, middle, and high school. Each level has a first, second, and third-place prize.

STEAM Tank is intended to be open-ended to maximize student creativity and to allow them to take the challenge in any direction they wish. There is an emphasis on sustainability and climate change throughout the challenge. Students, no matter what they create or problem-solve, must learn to consider the environmental and climate change impact, whether it be direct or indirect.

To participate, teams of two to five students must submit an application. Once the concept is accepted, the teacher/team leader will receive access to the STEAM Tank playbook, which contains detailed information about the challenge.

STEAM Tank Categories

STEAM Tank judges may also recognize a team that specializes in or demonstrates exemplary performance in specific categories reflected in the STEAM Tank rubric. These awards will vary each year depending on the presentations by student teams.

The categories include:

  • Innovative use of technology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Creativity and the exemplar integration of the arts
  • Improvement to the human-built environment
  • Subject matter expert collaboration
  • Societal impact
  • Sustainability, climate change and the environment
  • COVID-19, public health and safety

Competition Judging

The students are the stars of STEAM Tank, but the judges make a significant impact as well. The judges include teachers, business and industry leaders and entrepreneurs, U.S. Army engineers, university staff and leaders, and staff from education-focused non-profit organizations. They volunteer their time and provide in-depth feedback and coaching to the students.

STEAM Tank Challenge Benefits

When students participate in the STEAM Tank Challenge, they get to:

  • Access to a comprehensive STEAM Tank Playbook, a “how-to” guide for STEAM Tank participation that features problem-based learning and engineering design challenge process
  • Work with the U.S. Army on leadership and team-building skills
  • Hone critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Participate in a regional competition
  • Observe other teams to learn about different strategies, techniques and projects
  • Interact with mentors and collaborate with teachers
  • Have an opportunity to attend the NJSBA annual conference
  • Earn a STEAM Tank Digital Badge for their school

Additional STEAM Tank Partners

Additional partners include the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), NJ Audubon, Eco-Schools, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), NJ Parent Teacher Association (NJPTA), and NJ Principals and Supervisors Association (PSA). The PSEG Foundation has generously provided prizes for the past several years to the top-placing teams.

Learn More

For more information on the STEAM Tank Challenge, please email or visit our STEAM Tank Facebook page.