On the last day of the Iowa State Fair, IowaLUG supported the ACE Mentorship program at the STEM Day at the Fair which was organized and sponsored by the Governors STEM Council. Websites are below if you want to learn more. We were next to the Iowa State University FLL table as well, so ISEK was also shown on our prizes.


ACE is a program to promote through mentorship and projects the built environment as a profession, from Architecture, Construction, and Engineering. Scott Bowman was approached from the firm he retired from, KJWW Engineering, to help with an activity...and this was a perfect opportunity for him to beta his "Design within Constraint" activity that he intends to use with adults in his new consultancy!

Starting at 9:00 am and going to dark at 9:00 pm, IowaLUG along with volunteers from ACE facilitated a building activity involving almost 200 kids! They were given 10 minutes to build a tower, but that tower needed to be efficient, using as few bricks as possible, but get as high as possible. Oh, yea, it has to be pretty stable too! Clients are kind of fussy about not wanting their buildings to fall over!

The table was active and crowded all day, right to the very end. Each hour, a round was completed and awards given. LEGO provided support with a few smaller kits, and IowaLUG supplemented with 30 quart bags of mixed brick. So, each hour there were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes given, with all getting a grab bag, and 1st getting a kit. Scott had a program set up to tabulate the data and then display a leader board all day long, and kids loved seeing where they were, and some came back and tried multiple times! The concept of creativity even under constraint is the lesson being demonstrated...and it was just a lot of fun too.

The highest build was 52" on the table (one of the constraints), and one had a tipping point of it's full height at 45"...very stable. However, both of these used a fair number of bricks. The second round winner, Rachel, was also featured in a DM Register photograph of the event along with her sister. Rachel, 13, was also the overall best build at the event! Her tower was super efficient at 2.1 bricks per inch, with a height of 47". It was pretty stable with a tipping point of 19", but she was creative within the constraints and pretty much cleaned the clocks of all participants. One LUG member, who shall remain nameless, tried at least 4 rounds to beat that number, and was not able to do it. One engineering student volunteer tried to beat that number and just before going off shift, got to an equal efficiency, but not nearly as high.

So, we just might need to have an LUG meeting to try this challenge from some of our builders...how would you stack up to a 13 year old? Scott is not sure he wants to even try!

IowaLUG made a great impression on everyone involved, and perhaps we can be our own table/activity next year and have more stations. There were many questions by educators on if we had a curriculum set up for this, and Scott shared his contact information.