November 2018: All I Want for Christmas is a 3D Printer Design Challenge

Competition Opens: Friday, November 2nd

3d printer logo

Deadline: on or before 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Friday, November 30th


How many times have you come across a problem in your life that could be solved with creating a solution that could be 3D printed? What about a problem in society? Do you think you can design a 3D model that can solve a real-world problem? Well, now is your chance! The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wants to know how you will design a 3D model that can solve a problem that is important to you. It is not necessary that you actually 3D print your solution; it’s only necessary that you design the digital 3D model and explain the engineering design process that you followed. If you think you can meet this engineering design challenge enter All I want for Christmas is a 3D Printer today!  SIX prizes will be awarded—three for the 6-8th grade category and three for the 9 – 12th grade category. 

Prizes for 6th – 8th grade winners:

1st place: Maker Select 3D Printer V2 kit + 2 spools of filament + Laptop

2nd place:  Maker Select 3D Printer V2 kit + 2 spools of filament

3rd place: 3D Printer Pen

Prizes for 9th-12th grade winners:

1st place: Maker Select 3D Printer V@ kit + 2 spools of filament + Laptop

2nd place:  Maker Select 3D Printer V2 kit + 2 spools of filament

3rd place: 3D Printer Pen


Examples of 3D modeled solutions:

  • A prosthetic leg for a dog who was in an accident and lost a leg
  • A toothbrush holder that fits your toothbrush perfectly so it doesn’t touch the counter or anyone else’s toothbrush
  • A mount for your phone in your car that fits the phone and the car perfectly for safer GPS


  • You must be 10 years old or older to enter.
  • You must be a student in the US, American Territories, or DoDEA school.
  • A project includes a presentation of your choice (animation, video, powerpoint, etc…) that explains and documents your use of the engineering design process and includes a least 4 screen shots or video capture of your solution at various stages of creating it. You do not have to 3D print the model or buy any software. You can use any 3D modeling software such as Fusion360 or Tinkercad (free). If you need information on the Engineering Design Process, you can get it at:
  • Do not include your last name on your presentation- just first name and state. You can put your personal information on the submission form, but for your privacy when we upload, we will need your presentation without personal identification.
  • Projects must be submitted on the following form:
  • Projects will be sorted based on grade level. Students in grades 6 through 8 will be placed in one category and projects of students in grades 9 through 12 will be placed in category two.
  • Projects will be graded based on a rubric.
  • Winners will be announced late December.

How to Enter:

  • To enter the contest, complete the form at and attach your file. Make sure you include your parent or guardian’s contact information so we can get their permission to post your file on our website. The contest opens on Friday, November 2, 2018. The deadline to submit is 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Friday, November 30, 2018.


Still unsure about what we are asking? Here are some steps to help you complete the competition:

  1. Review the engineering design process: Refer back to this website when you get stuck:
  2. Define the Problem: Identify a problem in your life or in the world that could be solved by 3D printing a solution. Write down what the problem is, who the problem affects, and why you want this problem solved.
  3. Do Background Research: Research what has already been done about the problem. Then, put what you have found into your own words. Use this research to help you make a better decision about how you will design your solution. For example, do solutions already exist to solve the problem? If so, how can you improve those solutions? Make sure you cite your sources.
  4. Specify Requirements: Think about the specific characteristics of the solution you want to design. Ask yourself: What do you want it look like? Why? How big will it be? What materials do you want your solution to be made of? Why? How much do you think it will cost to 3D print it?
  5. Brainstorm, Evaluate, and Choose Solution: Look at the requirements you wrote down in Step 4 and decide exactly what you want your solution be like.
  6. Develop and Prototype Solution: Design and create your solution using 3D modeling software such as Tinkercad or Fusion 360. Note: It is permissible to use a 3D model that someone else has created and make adjustments, adaptations, and improvements on it. It must be obvious to scorers how you have made that original model your own. You must also cite the original designer and use the design with permission.
  7. Test Solution: In this step, explain what problems you think you will run into if you were to 3D print and test your tool. Explain what you think will go well. Ask others if they think your solution will solve the problem you chose.
  8. Communicate your results: This means take Steps 2-7 and put that information into a presentation. This presentation can be in the form of a video, an animation, a PowerPoint, a short movie, a picture slideshow, etc. Be creative and try a presentation method you’ve never done before! We love to see your most impressive technology skills displayed in your presentation!
  9. Enter the competition: Complete the form and submit your presentation at:


If you have any questions, please contact:

Kayla Canario
Master Teacher

Previous contests

  • Contest is now closed. Winners will be announced soon!

    Rising Kindergarten through 6th grade students!

    Do you think you can design a machine? We want to know how you would design a machine that solves a problem important to you! Tell us your important problem and explain the engineering design process of creating your machine, and you could win a prize! TEN prizes will be awarded to students—five for the K-3rd grade category and five for the 4th–6th grade category.

    Prizes for the top five K–3rd grade winners:  Code-and-Go Mouse

    Prizes for the top five 4th-6th grade winners: Sphero

    Examples of existing machines:

    • Electric Motor
    • Scissors
    • Wheelbarrow
    • Lawn mower
    • Typewriter
  • Harvesting renewable energy is an emerging field with many potential future career opportunities. ORISE wants students to get a small introduction to this field by designing an instrument or device that harvests ambient energy and transforms it into usable energy! Use the engineering design process to guide your creation beginning with identifying a problem and ending with a novel instrument that harvests and transforms energy! 


    7th-9th grade winner:
    Jake from TN with The Solarnator

    10th-12 grade winner:
    Kaitlyn Daniels with Chargeable Charms!


  • STEAM logo

    Science has long inspired art. Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci studied human anatomy extensively before he painted the Mona Lisa?  Did you know that Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein was inspired and written during a dreary, cold summer in 1815, when one of the strongest volcanic eruptions – Mount Tambora -- spewed ejecta that blocked out the sun and cooled the atmosphere? Today, countless artists are motivated by innovative technology, limitless natural phenomena, and new scientific discoveries!

    April is National Poetry Month, and to honor STEAM’s (STEM + Art) long history, ORISE is sponsoring a  science-poetry competition for all current high school students, university students, and all ORISE participants, including post-associate’s, post-bachelor’s, post-master’s, and postdoctoral levels! 


    High School student

    1st Jeanette, 17  How I Feel About Space
    2nd  Ivy, 16 Two Voices of STEAM
    3rd Elissa, 9  The World of Genetics
    Honorable Mention Rocco, 16 Singing
    Honorable Mention Matthew, 16  The Fly on the Wall
    Honorable Mention Joanna, 18  The Conscious Mind

    University student

    1st Kaila Noland Vacationing as a Crab
    2nd  Ashley Humphrey Science is a Verb
    3rd Kathleen Gillespie Biome, Sweet Biome

    ORISE Participant

    1st Michaela Cashman The Ocean Blues
    2nd David Sapiro The Rusty Bells
    3rd Eric Popczun Chlorine's Ode
    Honorable Mention Hannah C. Gunderman The Black Dog
    Honorable Mention Kate Jones What Does an Earthworm Taste Like?
    Honorable Mention Brandon McAdams No One is Allowed to Enter but Her

    General Relativity


    A hundred years
    the theory has passed hard tests and still we find
    new applications. Mass,
    energy, and curved spacetime
    collectively validate
    gravitational radiation, black holes, and cos-
    mology; neutrinos and photons,
    spewing from a supernova
    in the Large Magellanic Cloud, arrive
    here at Earth, our little home,
    within hours of each other, showing
    they move at different rates, in line
    with differences in mass, and light

    and neutrinos take the curved path
    of space-time, making
    the speed of light seem slow
    as it flows
    curvaceously across the galaxy from stars
    differing in age. My head

    spins now under the whirl of planets and
    neutron stars; my pulse
    picks up. What a delight

    to know these things have worked
    like this
    for hundreds of thousands of years:
    we stared

    back then up at night from
    sparking fire at cave-lip, astounded

    by pinprick bits of starry light that fell.

    • Parsons imageLinda Parsons

      Linda Parsons is a poet, playwright and an editor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She is the reviews editor at Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, former poetry editor of Now & Then magazine, and has contributed to The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Shenandoah, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column, American Life in Poetry, among other journals and anthologies. Her fourth poetry collection is This Shaky Earth, and her newest endeavor is writing for The Hammer Ensemble, the social justice wing of Flying Anvil Theatre .

      Green imageConnie Jordan Green

      Connie Jordan Green lives on a farm in Loudon County, Tenn., where, when she isn't gardening, she writes in a small attic study. She is the author of two award-winning novels for young people, The War at Home and Emmy; two poetry chapbooks, Slow Children Playing and Regret Comes to Tea; two poetry collections, Household Inventory, winner of the Brick Road Poetry Press 2013 Award, and most recently, Darwin’s Breath from Iris Press. Green is included in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia (University Press of Kentucky). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

      Gresham imageJennifer Gresham

      Jennifer Gresham spent 16 years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force before becoming a high-performance coach and business strategist. She is the former assistant chief scientist of the Human Performance Wing for the Air Force Research Laboratory, where she helped lead a research portfolio spanning the fields of biology, psychology and technology. She is the author of the poetry collection, Diary of a Cell, from Steel Toe Books, and the award-winning blog Everyday Bright. Her poems have been featured in numerous journals, magazines, and radio shows. She currently lives in Seattle, Wash., with her family and two cheeky cats.

      Stewart imageArthur Stewart

      Arthur Stewart is an ORISE science education program manager with more than 25 years of research experience in aquatic ecology and ecotoxicology. He also explores science creatively by writing, and has authored six books of science-inspired poetry, including Circle, Turtle, Ashes (2010), The Ghost in the Word (2013), and Elements of Chance (2017).  His poems have been published in both scientific venues and in over a dozen literary journals and magazines. In 2013, he was inducted into the East Tennessee Hall of Fame for poetry. 

  • Robot logo

    In February, ORISE asked students to follow the engineering design process to design a robot that solves a real-world problem. Congratulations to our grand-prize, runner-up, and judge’s choice winners!

    Grand prize winners

    Kayden from MD: RoboCare: Customized Healthcare at Your Service

    Adithya from TX: The HYDRObot


    Kyle from TN: The Easy Opener

    DeWayne from TN: Robotic Seeing Eye Dog

    Grace from TN: BinkyBot

    Christina from TN: Robots: Unsanitary Water in LDCs

    Ayush from TX: FRNDBot (not posted)

    Cody from TN: The MailBot

    Gregory from TN: Personal Health Care Robot

    Jalen from TN: I <3 Robots

    Hannah, Andrew, and Ethan from TN: Gas-Bot

    Judge’s choice

    Kashvi from KS: I <3 Robot: Dog & Drone

    Allie from TN: Reducing Unnecessary Shelter Deaths

  • In our November contest, students were encouraged to get creative for a chance to win a Flip Flop stunt drone! Participants in the contest entered by describing a science topic and used technology to present their ideas.

    Congratulations to our grand-prize and runner-up winners!

    John from Tennessee: Drone Laws

    Daniel from Maryland: Airfoil Technology

    Evelyn from Maryland: Drones and GPS

    Gabe from Tennessee: Drone Project

    Kayden from Maryland: Vessel Watch

    Jacob from Kansas: How Drones Move

    Omar from Tennessee: Aerodynamics of a Flying Drone

    William from Kansas: Gyroscopes in Drones

    Calvin from Tennessee: Parts of a Drone and How it Works