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Learning Through Innovative Teaching

KidTech is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization established in 1997 that provides materials for students in Centre County, Pennsylvania to grow their experience and interest in STEM related fields. We provide engineering kits, bus transportation for students and teachers to  attend events, and substitute teacher pay to make sure our programs are as low cost and impactful as possible.


KidTech encourages and enables youth, especially from under-represented groups, to learn about engineering and the related STEM fields (science, technology and math) with fun and challenging hands-on activities.

Who We Serve

KidTech works with Centre County middle schools and junior high schools in Centre County, PA: Bald Eagle Middle School, Bellefonte Area Middle School, Mount Nittany Middle School, Park Forest Middle School, Philipsburg-Osceloa Junior High, Penns Valley Junior High, State College Friends School. The teachers define how the KidTech activities fit in with their curriculum. Some teachers incorporate solar car activities into their science, math or technology education classes. Other teachers run KidTech activities in after school programs or other activity periods.

Board of Directors

  • Alexandria Bush - project manager / Restek, Inc.
  • Lori Dundon - communications manager / Restek, Inc.
  • Randy Edelman -  SCASD Tech Ed teacher / Middle school Delta program
  • John Ford -  retired middle school science teacher
  • Ron Gibson - retired software engineer / Applied Research Lab, Penn State
  • Beth Keim - chemistry teacher / State College Area High School
  • Liz Kisenwether - founder and president / retired engineering faculty, Penn State


Great Solar/Hybrid Car Challenge


Since 2006, KidTech’s lead activity each year is the Great Solar Car Challenge. KidTech provides a kit of solar car parts (30 sq. in. solar panel, wheels, plastic gears, small DC motor, 9V battery) to middle schools in Centre County. Each spring, KidTech volunteers and teachers work with the students to design, build, and test a small car — generally less than 8 oz. in weight. Students and teachers gather in May for the Great Solar Car Event, where students can race their cars in multiple events like fastest car, straightest car, hill climb, etc. The solar cars run on either the 9 V batteries (if it is cloudy) or the 12 V solar panels (if it’s sunny). Typically, we have over 150 students building cars each spring, and approximately 90 students (30 teams) participating on Race Day in May. During initial design stages, middle school students have the opportunity to meet with Penn State engineering students in the Engineering Ambassador’s program to learn more about good design approaches. Funding for the Great Solar Car Challenge comes from the Kards for Kids Charity Poker Tournament.

Building a winning solar/hybrid car is not a simple task: it involves a mix of wise selections for gear ratio + wheel diameter and careful building technique. Here are some resources provided to middle school teachers and students on the Great Solar Car program:

Powerpoint: Building a Basic Car (MS_BasicBuildMac.ppt)
How to Build a Basic Car (BasicBuildSteps.doc)
Powerpoint: Optimizing Gears and Wheels (MS_SolarK_SimpleMacPC.ppt)
Introduction to Gear Ratio and Wheel Size (HandAlt2_1GearsWheelsV5.doc)
Understanding the Impact of Wheel Diameter and Gear Ratio on Car Speed (HandAlt2_3GearsWheelsV5.doc)
Solar Panel Basics: Serial and Parallel connection (HandAlt1_ParlSerV2.doc)
 In addition, KidTech volunteers, Penn State faculty and local middle school teachers teamed up to write a technical paper entitled "Using Solar Cars to Excite Middle School Students About Engineering" which was presented at the 2017 American Solar Energy Society (ASES) convention .  Check out the paper here:http://proceedings.ises.org/paper/solar2017/solar2017-0018-Lau.pdf

Great Engineering Exploration (GEE) Grants

The Great Engineering Exploration (GEE) program provides funding to innovative, creative teachers to develop, pilot and share active-learning projects that expose youth to engineering concepts. KidTech wants to help teachers make their innovative curriculum ideas become reality. For an example of a funded GEE project, go to http://gantdaily.com/2011/06/12/p-o-students-launch-weather-balloon-as-part-of-class-project/

The GEE application process is simple: just follow the RFP guidelines. The GEE Grant provides teachers with a $500 no-payback grant to help purchase materials, equipment or cover travel costs. Apply today!  For more information, contact Liz Kisenwether at liz.kisenwether@gmail.com.

Frazier Foundation Grant


KidTech also was awarded a grant in Summer 2013 from the Frazier Foundation to work with local organizations to develop and deliver an outdoor exploration event, where students use traditional methods (maps, compass, landmarks) to navigate a course, as well as high-tech methods (GPS geocaching). More information coming…

OUR SUPPORTERS and partners

Engineering Ambassadors of Penn State Photo

Engineering Ambassadors of Penn State

Discovery Space Photo

Discovery Space

Kards for Kids Charity Poker Tournament Photo

Kards for Kids Charity Poker Tournament

Penn State Photo

Penn State

YMCA Photo


American Association of University Women Photo

American Association of University Women

CONTACT US and follow us!


(814) 571-3487