Middle School Competitions & Programs

FIRST Lego League (FLL)

FIRST Lego League (FLL)

FIRST Lego League (FLL)


4th-8th Grade

  • Teams of 4-5
  • Real-world engineering challenges
  • Build LEGO-based robots
  •  NSBE’s Annual Convention

FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) is a program that introduces children to science & technology in a fun, energized atmosphere of sportsmanship.

The objective is to:

  • foster enthusiasm about science and technology in young children.
  • equip the participants with the idea of team spirit
  • encourage children to solve complex tasks in a creative way 

Students will research a given topic within a team, as well as plan, program and test an autonomous robot to solve a mission.  FLL Teams have the opportunity to experience all steps of a real product development process: solving a problem under time pressure with insufficient resources and unknown competitors. FLL is a small micro-cosmos of real business life in all of its aspects.  


FIRST Lego League (FLL)

FIRST Lego League (FLL)


 6th – 8th Grade

  • Teams of 2-5
  • Explore open-ended challenges designed to enhance STEM skills
  • Build simple, powerful robots while developing teamwork, leadership and communication skills

The VEX IQ Challenge provides elementary school students with exciting, open-ended robotics and research project challenges that enhance their STEM skills through hands-on, student-centered learning. 

Students build their robot & then use a graphical software to program the robot. There are three parts to the contests: Robot Skills, which is a single robot trying to score as many points as possible; the Teamwork Challenge, where two robots attempt to work together to complete the same task; and and the STEM Research Project and Presentation where teams research a given topic, create a prototype and present to a group of judges.   


FIRST Lego League (FLL)



6th – 8th Grade

  • Teams of 4
  • Year-long program to improve problem solving skills
  • Thought-provoking and fun math problems
  • Compete using a circuit of exams at NSBE’s Fall Regional Conference (FRC) and the Annual Convention

MathCounts is a national middle school mathematics competition that provides engaging math programs to middle school students to build confidence,  improve attitudes towards math & problem solving and fosters achievement.   

To secure America's global competitiveness, MATHCOUNTS inspires excellence, confidence and curiosity through fun and challenging math programs. 

**MathCounts holds a National Competition every May where the National Champion is determined during the Countdown Round. This individual receives a $20,000 Donald G. Weinert College Scholarship. 

There's also the MathCounts Video Challenge!  

Check out: 

The Little Figures and The Little Figures: Silver War Countdown 

Future City

NSBE Jr. Explorer Technical Innovations Competition



 6th – 8th Grade

  • Teams of 3 imagine and design a city of the future using SimCity software.
  • Build a physical model of the city, exploring engineering and city planning ideas.
  • Develop writing and public speaking skills, and apply math and science to real world issues.

Future City Competition is a national competition that focuses on improving student's math, engineering, and science skills.    An example of problem based learning with computer simulation, the program asks 6th, 7th & 8th grade students from around the nation to team with volunteer engineer mentors to create — first on computer and then in three-dimensional models — their visions of the city of tomorrow.

The Future City Competition provides a platform for students to increase their:

  • Ability to work in teams,
  • Research & technical writing skills,
  • Oral presentation skills,
  • Application of coursework to practical problems,
  • Awareness of community and business issues on the local and global levels. 

NSBE Jr. Explorer Technical Innovations Competition

NSBE Jr. Explorer Technical Innovations Competition

NSBE Jr. Explorer Technical Innovations Competition


6th-8th Grade

Individual or Group 

*Up to 3 per group


The Explorer Technical Innovations Competition is an annual national science fair program where students have the opportunity to compete in & explore science in all forms through projects and presentations

  • Students conduct research for no more than 12 months before the national competition
  • Participants submit their project summaries & research papers for scoring at NSBE’s Annual Convention (in San Antonio, TX)

Program Goals:

  • Encourage Science Based inquiry in Pre-college students
  • Improve oral presentation and scientific writing skills

DMV NSBE, Jr. scholars will be mentored & taught college level research skills by Howard University graduate students!


NSBE Jr. Explorer Technical Innovations Competition

NSBE Jr. Explorer Technical Innovations Competition


6th-8th Grade

Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world & is highly valuable for future engineers & other STEM professionals.  This introductory class is designed to use interactive lessons to teach students in grades 6-8  how to speak Mandarin Chinese by introduce them to the basic language needed for short  conversation. 

Students Will Learn: 

  • Basic spoken Mandarin phrases & vocabulary for everyday life
  • The importance of proper “tones” in Mandarin
  • Greater insight into Chinese culture and its influence on "pop culture"

**There is an additional fee for this year-round enrichment class that meets weekly for 90 minutes.   

**New for 2019-20:

Intermediate & Advanced Level Mandarin Classes!

**Also new this year: Intro to Spanish!

Black History Quiz Bowl

Engineering, Art & Design

Black History Quiz Bowl


 Grades 6-8

  • Teams of 4
  • Research & Teamwork 

In honor of Black History Month, students have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of African Americans over the history of our country.  Working together, teams learn & compete about the glorious culture and history of people of the African Diaspora through a friendly quiz bowl, jeopardy-style competition.  Topics include HBCU History, The Civil Rights Movement, Sports & Entertainment, The Divine Nine and more!    

Coming Soon!

Microsoft Code Academy

Engineering, Art & Design

Black History Quiz Bowl


Grades 6-8

Students will be able to jump start their future in STEM by choosing from coding classes ranging from Intro to HTML, JavaScript and CSS to Python, App Development and Game Design.

Coding classes will teach computer programming skills through interactive and exciting projects especially for kids who have great imaginations, like figuring out how things work or simply love technology.


Students will have so much fun creating video games, animated stories and bringing their imaginations to life not realizing all the cool skills he or she is learning along the way: basic coding and programming, problem solving, logic, physics and more!

Engineering, Art & Design

Engineering, Art & Design

Engineering, Art & Design


Grades 5-12

Students work with an artist to work through the design process of their own sneaker.

 **There is an additional fee for this    

12-week enrichment class.  Exact meeting day & times TBD.   

Course is PENDING: Additional details & course description Coming Soon.


Thanks to the generosity & partnership with Howard University's Civil Engineering Department - our future engineers, scientists and STEM innovators will be hosted at LK Downing Engineering Hall (2300 6th Street, NW).  With the exception of the college tours; Fall Regional Conference & NSBE's 46th Annual Convention, ALL of our STEM programming will occur at Howard University!  This partnership is a great way for HU's NSBE Collegiate Chapter, Bison STEM Scholars, HU STEM Faculty & STEM majors and other HU student leadership organizations to directly give back to the community & mentor the Next Gen of Black Engineers & STEM professionals!   


Team Practices, Enrichment Classes & Workshops: When Do They Meet?

Many children in the DC Metro Area love STEM but may not want to be an engineer (or even know what engineers do).  For this reason, DMV NSBE, Jr. will offer a variety of STEM programming & other enrichment classes to our members.  To ensure that our members can not only participate in any of our chapter's programming AND outside extra-curricular activities; weekly team practices, enrichment classes, workshops and monthly chapter meetings will occur on the weekends:


Chapter Meetings: 3rd Sunday of Each Month (4pm-6pm)

Our student-led chapter meetings are hands-on intended for BOTH the student members AND their parents.  

Scheduling our programs on Saturday's & Sunday's gives students, parents & coaches the flexibility to have an enriching NSBE, Jr. experience while also giving them time to spend with family & nurture their non-STEM interests.

Download a copy of the 2019-20 Program Schedule on the Membership Page.


How Can We Juggle It All?

Schedules for team practices & enrichment classes will be determined by the dedicated volunteer coaches & mentors serving our children.  From our experiences, the most successful NSBE, Jr. chapters also have a high percentage of parent-coaches who have children in the chapter.   We hope you consider serving as a coach for one of your child's math or technical teams. Besides exploring engineering together & having fun guiding your child (& their teammates) in exciting hands-on STEM adventures - YOU, your co-coach and the parents on your child's team get to decide the practice meeting schedule!  Ex: Will our VEX IQ team practice on Saturday's from 1pm-2:30pm or Sunday's 2pm-3:30pm.  Does this time work well for everyone on our team?  Does it conflict with my son's football & karate schedule?  Will my daughter be able to do Future City, Mandarin, a coding class and also gymnastics with her travelling club program?  

Consider Being a Coach!  Coach & Mentor Training coming soon!