Announcing a new challenge for K-12 students:

The Scrounge-A-Thon BioLauncher

The Scrounge-a-thon BioLauncher is a new program supported in part by the Vermont Public Service Board and Champlain Maker Faire for students to make a wood pellet feeding mechanism for wood pellet burning stoves. Student teams will have the opportunity to pitch their concept at the Vermont School Maker Day as part of this year’s Champlain Maker Faire at the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn on September 27, 2019.

Up to 10 teams will be chosen to create the BioLauncher wood pellet feeder and will receive up to $500 to help cover costs of the project. Funds may be used for materials, consulting, and transportation. In addition, students are expected to scrounge for recycled, reusable materials and parts. The winners of the project will receive up to $2000 in awards and be connected to business development expertise.


Program Details:

Does your team like to tinker? Like to solve problems? Want to strengthen Vermont’s economy? reduce carbon emissions? and maybe start a business? And sing about it? (song required).

If so-then enter the first annual Vermont scrounge-a-thon (The scrounge-a-thon approach solves big problems with mostly scrounged materials-and minimal economic outlay). Ten teams will be provided with stipends of up to $500 to solve the problem. The teams will pitch their solution at the School Maker Faire at Shelburne Farms on September 27th, 2019.

So…what’s the problem?

The goal is to encourage the use of more wood heat-and a resilient sustainable forest industry-keeping energy dollars for heating in-state. Why-because Vermont is exporting 78 cents of every energy dollar out of state. We can keep energy dollars in-state and reduce carbon emissions through burning wood pellets.

Your team would re-purpose existing technology to develop a low-cost, affordable means to lift bulk delivered wood pellets from a bulk tank to a day tank. The day tank could either empty by gravity into the stove (mounted high on wall above pellet stove) or deliver pellets to a day tank on floor next to stove-where pellets can then be transferred manually from day tank to stove. Your team would design a safe, affordable lifting mechanism that delivers pellets whole-and does not cause explosions. The winning system must be rugged, reliable, move tons of pellets annually and cost less than $500. A preliminary design packet will be provided will be available on the web.

In order to win-the winning team will move one bag (about 40 lbs) of wood pellets uphill (10 ft vertical distance) in <20 minutes, so that bulk pellets can be delivered to a house, stored in a bulk pellet bin (either outside or in a basement)-and then transferred from the bulk pellet bin to a day bin using little energy.

Winning teams will be paired with Launch VT to develop a business for a, safe, affordable (ideally under $500), residential pellet delivery system. Teams would present their concept designs in a pitch competition to be held at the Champlain School Maker Faire on September 27th, 2019.


STEP 1: Indicate your interest by registering HERE by September 1, 2019

STEP 2: Receive details on how to field a team to pitch at the 2019 School Maker Day by September 3

STEP 3: Complete the registration from with link provided to you prior to September 15, 2019

STEP 4: Come to Shelburne Farms Coach Barn Friday September 27 to pitch

For more information contact:

Greg Young, VT Agency of Education STEM/STEAM

Lori Barg, Vermont Scrounge-A-Thon