View the official judging sheet for the Things category here.

View the student checklists for the Things category here.

View the official category description for the Things category here.

Thoughts and Ideas

As the name implies, this category is for those who make things. These ‘things’ can be of any style or type, as long as there are some engineering principles involved in the making.

Projects in this category may not fit inside the typical Science Fair model. STEM concepts can be involved in all types of making, from sand sculpture to welding, from textiles to 3D printing, etc. As long as the thing is designed with a plan there’s engineering involved.

Part of the process of making something is designing it. This is such a critical component that the designs in and of themselves are acceptable as entries in the category, even if the thing is never actually physically made.

Most commonly these ‘things’ will be original creations. But they can also be reproductions of existing items, as long as original work is done as part of the design process.

Things can be made by any means, of any material.

Keep in mind that “how” you make it is important. The process of what is involved in the creation of the ‘thing’ is critical.

Documentation of the process of making the thing is a key component of this category. This documentation may consist of such things as design sketches, photos of build stages, a process description, bills of material, drawing revisions, etc.

Here are the "must-haves" for an effective "Things" entry:

As in all categories, the general requirements must be followed for this category as well, including some form of display for the day of the event.

Include copies of all documentation, preferably in printed form.

The thing itself should be part of the project presentation. If the thing is too big, photos of it should be presented with enough detail so the judges and viewers can determine workings and workmanship. Keep in mind that larger spaces are available just by asking.

If there was a log of progress in building or designing the thing, that log should also be included.

Listings and descriptions of any tools that are (or should be) used in the build of the thing should also be included.


The entries in this category will present a real-world thing, either fully made or designed (or both). The presentation could include full design drawings, 3D graphical renderings, 3D printed models, machined parts, hand-constructed models, sub-pieces of the complete assembly, or other similar item(s).

The build and/or design should have enough detail to show the engineering involved. This may extend to include such things as bills of material, structural analysis, material selection, functional specifications, construction drawings, etc.

Entries in Things are commonly original creations. However, re-creation of existing items is allowed, as long as original work is done as part of the engineering and design process.

One of the considerations in the project is the make-up and granularity of the components used in the creation of the object. If, for instance, the object was a marble, the components involved might be basic glass rods, glass powder, or even sand; but if the object was a suspension bridge, the components might be beams, rivets, etc. (There would be no reason to describe the manufacturing of the bridge all the way from iron ingots.) Conversely, the specific details of components and manufacturing processes should be defined and documented. (For instance, if a 3D printer is used, the make, filament type and size, print temperature, nozzle diameter, print speed, etc. should all be noted.)


A successful project display will include the following:

  • One or more of the following: the actual object, a critical component of the object, a mock-up of the final object, a live graphical rendering of the completed object, or a complete set of printed engineering drawings
  • A description of the ‘thing’, and its purpose
  • A bill of materials (BOM) and/or a description of the reasons why each component/material was used
  • A list of the tool(s) and/or equipment used in design of the ‘thing’
  • A description of the engineering methodology and sequence(s) involved in design and/or build of the ‘thing’
  • Information on build failures (if any) regarding causes and any design/material changes made to solve the issue


  • General rules and judging criteria
  • Completeness and accuracy of the descriptive documents
  • Quality of workmanship of the ‘thing’ and/or the projects modeling components
  • The understanding of the design/build process


  • Functionality/practicality of the ‘thing’
  • Complexity of the build process or engineering process