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K’NEX Challenge at Johnson College

SCRANTON -- The designers of tomorrow had their skills on display Tuesday morning in Scranton.

They cascaded out of the bleachers at Johnson College to their tables to build projects with K'NEX, and possibly build their futures.

This is the annual STEM challenge. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Students had to design and build an amusement park ride.

Gabby Ciborosky is an eighth-grade student at Mid Valley. The Mid Valley team was just starting on its project, and they already got something out of the process.

"You have to think of ways things could go together. Not everything is going to work, so you have to come up with different solutions," said Ciborosky.

About 200 students arrived at Johnson College with plans in hand or on a tablet. They had two hours to do their thing.

The organizer said the K'NEX challenge is more than child's play.

"It's 21st-century skills, get the kids involved, engaged, and it allows them to be creative as well," said Doug Womelsdorf, NEIU 19.

Another goal is pointing young people, nudging young people toward careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Lackawanna Trail fifth-grader Gianna Familetti hasn't decided on a career just yet but a day like this and a project like this could help.

"It could definitely make a change because it was really, really fun to do," said Familetti.

There's more. The amusement park ride has to be environmentally friendly and the older students also have to put together a budget.

This is just the final step in a long process. Students came up with the ideas and designs at their own individual schools, but this is where they put them together, and this is where they compete with dozens of other schools.

Winners get plaques and a head start on their futures.