On September 24, 2016, Houston High School completed 2017 PaperPower Memphis, a MakerMinded activity.

The PowerPaper design competition tasks students to build innovative structures from recycled paper products. The competition rewards students for their creativity and knowledge of STEM principles while helping them become aware of paper waste and recycling.

From The Submitter:

I selected this activity for my students because it is a great engineering design project, as well as a wonderful service project for the community. My STEM students are expected to know and understand the intricacies of the engineering design process, and projects like PaperPower require students to utilize their problem solving and critical thinking skills, innovative and inventive thinking, as well as their knowledge learned in the classroom about the engineering design process. My students really enjoyed the creative and artistic aspects of this project. Most STEM projects involve creativity in one way or another, but this activity has several artistic and community service aspects (recycling initiative) that they enjoyed. Next time, I will stress that students can't sacrifice the engineering design process for the artistic aspects of the project. Students learned time management and collaboration skills, as well as reinforce what they know about the engineering design process. Students also learned how to organize a community service project (recycling initiative that was both school and community wide), and see the project through from start to finish.

About Our Program:

The Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) national manufacturing institute, Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN), and Tennessee Tech University's iCube are working to spread the MakerMinded program to schools throughout Tennessee. MakerMinded is a workforce initiative created with the purpose of generating manufacturing mindsets in middle and high school students. Using the digital platform provided by, schools can find and complete activities related to manufacturing and STEM, earn points, and move their way up the online leaderboard as they gauge their progress against other schools in the state.

The goal of the program is to immerse more students in STEM and manufacturing learning experiences, increase the number of students pursuing further STEM education and training, encourage students to develop foundational technical skills, and expose under-represented populations to manufacturing and STEM fields.

"If we continue to allow students to turn away from STEM education without providing them the opportunity and encouragement to continue it, then we are doing them and our country a disservice," said Larry Brown, Executive Director of LIFT.

To learn more about MakerMinded and get your school involved, visit or contact Tennessee Tech University's iCube Executive Director Kevin Liska at

This submission was published on Thursday, December 8, 2016 - 11:08 by christa.phillips.
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