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STEAM Inspiration Challenge

Five STEAM Categories + Your UNLIMITED Categories






Students can choose any one of five categories as their challenge project to register.

We also encourage students upload their own project if not falling in the categories above.




Use Mars Simulant soil and grow plants in the soil. 

The plant needs to grow for at least four weeks.  Give four reasons why you chose a specific plant.  

Goal is to maximize yield and determine an ideal soil mix for your type of plant.

Grow your chosen plants in the following percentage mixtures of Earth Soil to Mars Simulant soil: 


1.(100% / 0%),

2.(75% / 25%),

3.(50% /50%),

4.(25% / 75%),

5.(0 %/  100%). 


Carefully tend to and document the plants. You are not allowed to use fertilizers of any sort.  Your earth soil shall be natural. You may use natural light or a grow lamp.

The Mars Simulant soil should be free of organic materials and have characteristics that are similar to either the MMS-1 or MMS-2 mix available from the following supplier.

You may need to order several kg of Mars Simulant and have it shipped. 


Please do not taste or consume the product of this Mars Simulant soil experiment!



Battery Technology:

Make a type of battery using a vegetable (no citrus fruits) with two types of electrodes of your own choice, each of 10 gm.

Goal: Optimize the battery and electrode design. Maximize power to weight output over 60 min for your battery design.

The shape and design of the electrode is open-ended, however only 10 gm of cathode metal and 10 gm of anode metal may be used.  Carbon may be substituted as only one of the electrodes.  You may wish to maximize the area of your electrodes.

The vegetables used in the batteries can be raw, cooked or fermented, however no electrolyte apart from normal iodized table salt may be used with the vegetables.  Vegetable salt content shall be less than 20 %.  Specialty salts, like Himalayan rock salt, may not be used.  Non-ionic spices may be used in fermentation.  Teams may use more than one type of vegetable in their battery designs.

To measure output your battery may be hooked up to either: an Ammeter or to a Hoffman electrolysis machine.  In the case of the Hoffman electrolysis machine the volume of produced oxygen will be used to find the total current produced by your battery.

Once the battery is connected to the ammeter or the Hoffman electrolysis machine the students may not touch the battery until either it has stopped producing current or the 60 minutes have elapse.  There shall be only one start of test per team.

After the total current is determined, the resistance of the circuit will be measured so that the total power output can be determined (the battery forms part of the circuit). 

The final measurement will be the mass of the battery, so that a power to mass ratio can be determined for each battery design.



Improve Air Quality in Cities: 

Cities have poor air quality due to smog and aerosols. 

Goal is to propose a specific project be built in your city which will help to improve air quality.

Develop a city planning concept to help reduce or eliminate poor air quality, using active or passive elements. 

Active elements may be specialty materials or paints, water features or electromechanical systems. Passive features may be plant life, geographic or man-made structures. 

You should build a scale model with active components to test the concept.

Here is an example of a Future City proposal done by the Vancouver Study Group and presented to the Mayor of the City of Vancouver in 2017:

and a  proposal for a new fountain for Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver:



Predicting New Exoplanets: 

Goal is to find a way to predict whether there are other Exoplanets in an Exoplanetary system, and where they might be found.


An Exoplanet is a planet that orbits another star other than our sun.  Over 5,700 Exoplanets have been discovered in recent years. A good source of information about Exoplanets is found at

You will note that most of the Exoplanets found so far are many times larger than Jupiter.  

Choose an Exoplanetary system with at least 3 known planets.   

Describe your chosen Exoplanetary system using physics using Kepler’s Third Law, and any other laws of planetary orbits.


You may want to use our own solar system as an example

Try to imagine how having discovered only the four large gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune)  far from the sun how someone looking from far outside our solar system might predict the locations of the smaller terrestrial planets.  

By the way our sun is a G type star …


- There is a law first proposed in the 17th century that  predicts the distance from the sun for the eight planets in the solar system.

-There is a good description of this law in a book called One, Two, Three, Infinity … by George Gamow:


-The German physicist Weizsacker may have figured the reason for this law. …



Mathematical Optimization:  Pierre de Fermat developed a simple technique to optimize equations. 

Goal: A series of six questions regarding optimization will be given you and you will be asked to find solutions for the six questions.

Study the life and mathematical achievements of the 17th century French mathematician Pierre de Fermat and prepare a presentation about one of his many achievements.

Become familiar with his ideas regarding summation and optimization and his foundation work on infinitesimal calculus. You may want to master quadratic equations and word questions relating to optimization. 

In 1934 a letter written by Isaac Newton in the 17th century was found in the library at Cambridge University, in which Newton stated “everything I learned about calculus I learned from Pierre de Fermat.”


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