Student Guidelines

The guidelines outlined here should be used to prepare your entry for the National Competition. Your entry will consist of a written design proposal (not to exceed 12 pages including the cover page) and a set of 6 slides (PowerPoint converted to pdf) that you will present at the Competition.

At this exhibition, we will provide each team with:
1. A 6 foot by 6 foot space for their entry, plus a poster board.
2. Access to electrical power.
3. A table and chair that are protected from the sun and rain.

Your presentation at the National Competition will be in two parts: (1) an oral PowerPoint presentation to the entire audience, (2) an at-the-booth exhibit and question and answer session that complements and adds further detail to your oral presentation. Thus, you should bring your own posters, props, models, mockups, etc. for display in your booth. You are responsible for bringing anything else related to your exhibit.  Also, be sure that your display can be set up within an hour and dismantled within an hour.

Your competition entry should be submitted online.  Part (a) of your entry, the design proposal, must follow the application format outlined below.   Please note, that a teacher or administrative representative of the entrant school must submit the online application on behalf of the entrant(s).  Part (b) of your entry, 6 PowerPoint slides, must be delivered to us online one week before your country’s National Competition.

Entry Submission Guidelines

A. Introduction

Problem solving in science and engineering often begins with design.  Once the problem has been identified, the scientist or engineer is asked to come up with possible solutions to solve the problem.  Next, the scientist or engineer will assemble a team of experts to help to him or her get to the underlying cause of the problem, or to help him/her understand the more specialized knowledge required to devise a workable solution to problem.  Thus, teamwork becomes an important aspect of scientific inquiry, and problem solving.  Sometimes,  a subset of the team members are consultants who help the team for short periods of time to bring expertise that is needed. The resources necessary to solve the problem also need to be identified and sourced.  By resources we mean not only money, but also materials and services, and suppliers of the required materials and services.

Most science and engineering projects have a social, environmental and sometimes a psychological impact on the community being served.  For example community buy-in could be important, and this should also be taken into account in your design phase.

Often, the next step is that the team develops a proposal (sometimes called a bid, business plan, or white paper depending on the context) to do the work.  Proposals can vary in length from 1 page to hundreds of pages depending on the scope and complexity of the problem to be solved.  But in essence, a proposal is a persuasive document that convinces all the stakeholders (the person or institution with the problem, the community being affected and the funders of the project) that the proposed solution is sound, that the costs are reasonable, that the community will benefit, and that the project has an excellent chance of being successful.

Thus, a good proposal clearly identifies the most challenging and critical problems to be solved and describes the solutions to those problems in detail.  Clearly if the solution to the most critical problem fails, then the project fails and there is unhappiness everywhere.  At the same time, no matter how well the design is carried out, most projects run into unforeseen problems.  For this reason, a good proposal always has a Plan B, and yours should too.

A budget or an estimate of the costs to solve the problem is always needed.  If the monetary costs are claimed to be zero, then the team must still convincingly show how and from where the resources are going to come.

Assuming the proposal is indeed persuasive and that there is buy-in by all the stakeholders, the proposal will then be ready for implementation.

B. The Sagicor Visionaries Challenge

The Sagicor Visionaries challenge (SVC) is a design competition, and Part (a) of your entry is a design proposal.  Whether your project is based in biology, general science, environmental science, physics, or engineering, the design of your project will be the first phase.  This means that in the SVC you will not be expected to implement your idea.  But to complement your proposal, you should devise props and mockups and models to help you, your teachers, mentors and the judges to fully understand your concept and your solution.

If the problem you are proposing to solve will costs millions of dollars, then we recommend that you break the problem up into several phases, and you and your team could address perhaps only the first phase of the overall project.  But the judges will not look kindly on ambitious proposals that are unmatched by the resources that you can bring to bear on the problem in a reasonable time frame (3 years or less).  Judges will also take into account the difficulty of the project, so a simple project with no risk will receive a lower score in this category than a more difficult or complex project.  So, as a scientist, you and your team will have to make a judgment call as which project you choose to put forward, assuming your team initially starts out with several good ideas.

Much weight will then be placed on your presentation, as the judges will be looking to see if you truly understand the underlying concepts to your solution and the implementation challenges involved.  The specifics of the judging criteria are discussed below.

C. Design Proposal Outline

Your proposal (12 pages maximum with fonts no smaller than 10 pt) therefore should contain the following sections:

  1. A Title Page that contains the title of your project, the name, address and phone number of your school, the names of all the team members, the name of the teacher providing guidance and the names of your mentor(s) (use the template provided)
  2. Problem Statement and Significance of the Problem (0.75 of a page maximum)
    Clearly state the problem that affects your school or community that you and your team intend to solve, and the significance of this problem to the community
  3. Objectives of the Project (0.5 of a page maximum)
    List the set of objectives that you have in mind to address the problem
  4. Approach or Proposed Solution (7 pages maximum)
    Clearly describe your approach, or how you propose to solve the problem identified (this will be the longest section of your proposal). Describe the methods and strategies you will use. If you are able to get preliminary data before your presentation at your National Competition, include that data here. Use graphs, photos, and illustrations to analyse your data and to get your points across. When you get to the exhibition, be sure to enhance your presentation with props, models and mockups so that your communication is clear and persuasive.
  5. The Competition (0.5 of a page maximum)
    Please include a brief discussion of the competitive landscape. If the problem you are proposing has already been solved by others, then you will want to convince the judges that you have a “better solution”. A better solution could have a lower cost and/or more efficiency, so that people in your community would like your solution better than the existing one, and adopt your solution. Incremental improvements on a product or service is always difficult to sell with persuasion, but if you think you and your team have the mojo to go down this route, then go for it. Ignoring the competition will cause you to lose a significant number of points. So do your homework well and thoroughly in this, the design phase.
  6. Resources Needed (0.5 of a page maximum)
    Make a table of the major resources you will need to solve the problem and either place a price in US$ next to those resources if they will need to be purchased, or tell us how you will get them or who will contribute them. Include a list of the people (and their expertise) who will be needed to help you carry out the project. We will use this information in place of a formal budget. Do not worry about salaries and employees etc. at this time.
  7. Timetable (0.5 of a page maximum)
    Assuming you were able to acquire the resources to go ahead and implement your solution, your proposal should tell us how many days or months your proposed solution will take. You should break down the work into smaller subtasks and estimate the time needed for each task. Some tasks will take place in parallel and you should say so. A good way to show this is in a time table like the one shown below. To be persuasive, you must try to be as realistic as possible.
    TaskPerformed byMth1Mth2Mth3Mth4Mth5Mth6
    1. Plant coconut treesStudents
    2. Harvest coconutsPTA
    3. Convert coconut milk to coconut oilConsultants
    4. Experiments to establish coconut oil as a fuel for carsStudents and teachers
    5. Build a small plant to make coconut oil fuelConsultants
    6. Form partnership with C-Nut Farms LTD.School
  8. Use of STEM (0.25 of a page maximum)
    Describe how your idea incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Mathematics (S.T.E.M.). Also tell us how it relates to what you are learning now or will soon learn at your school.
  9. Community involvement and Community Impact (0.5 of a page maximum)
    Show how you have or would involve the community (for example, your classmates, the school alumni association, the PTA, etc.) in the development and/or implementation of your idea. Describe the anticipated benefits that your project, if successful, would have on your community.
  10. References or Bibliography (0.5 of a page maximum)
    Include the list of references (or bibliography) that you drew upon to support your case.

D. Your Presentation at the National Competition

For the National Competition, you will prepare and present a set of three (3) slides that will cover all the basic sections outlined in your written proposal.  Your presentation will be limited to 3 minutes.  You will also bring your models, mockups, poster board material and demos to the competition to support your presentation and to help you make the most convincing and persuasive arguments that your proposed solution will fix the problem.

In addition to the judges, investors, venture capitalists, or representatives of companies may be in the audience at your presentation at the National Competition.  Who knows, one of them may be persuaded enough to invest in your idea!!

E. Sample Project Ideas

Example 1: Our school compound has little green space as the entire yard is covered with concrete. When it rains, the water runs off our property and floods the street below, making it difficult for us to access the school. This water then flows down to the community below and out to sea where it spoils our reefs. We envision a series of projects at our school that adds beneficial green space to our schoolyard, provides live laboratories for our classes, and simultaneously reduces the amount of storm water that leaves our yard.

Example 2: Our village has intermittent and very unreliable electricity.  The electricity is sometimes off for more than 12 hours.  At school we often need to recharge the batteries of our two laptop computers and the batteries or our cell phones when the electricity supply is off.  Our farmers and fishermen have the same problem. There are several abandoned vehicles in our village.  Our proposal would be to remove the alternators and batteries from these vehicles and use then to generate and store electricity.  To do this we would convert the alternators to wind turbines by designing our own blades to be attached to the alternators. We will use the old batteries to store the electricity produced, and we will design a circuit to convert the DC power from the battery to 110 VAC.

F. Judging Criteria:

The same judging criteria will be used at the national and regional levels. :

Category & Points: Written and Design Proposal

TOTAL (out of 35)
Title Page (1 Pt)
Title page contains the name of the project, name, address and telephone number of the school, names of team members, name of teacher providing guidance & name of mentor (if applicable)
Problem Statement and Significance of Problem (2 Pts)
Proposal clearly states the problem and outlines its significance
Objectives of the Project (2 Pts)
Proposed objectives clearly listed
Relevance to Needs of School or Community (4 Pts)
Proposal adequately describes its relevance to a problem or need facing the school or community
Approach or Proposed Solution (10 Pts)
Methods and strategies used are clearly described. Proposal contains relevant preliminary data from research findings (graphs, photos, illustrations, etc.) to back up proposed solution
Competitive Landscape (3Pts)
Proposal includes a clear and thorough description of the competitive landscape, along with benefits of proposed solution
Resources Needed (5 Pts)
Proposal contains an adequate table/list of major resources needed?. (Resources may include: prices of items to be purchased or a list of contributors/means of fund raising; list of experts with expertise needed; etc)
Timetable (2 Pts)
A timetable included that is realistic in the context of the project
STEM Linkage (2Pts)
There a good description of how the topic relates to STEM
Proposed Public or Community Engagement (2 Pts)
Proposal speak to how it will or will not engage the local community, and the proposed community involvment plan is sound
References (2 Pts)
References or a bibliography are included

Category & Points: Presentations

TOTAL (out of 40)
Oral Powerpoint Presentation (3 Pts)
Clear, concise and effective Powerpoint presentation using appropriate tools (e.g. pictures, graphs)
Booth Effectiveness in Demonstrating the Solution (10 Pts)
Excellent use of relevant graphics, images, mockups or prototypes. Booth aesthetics generally of a high standard
Answers to Questions at the Booth (5 Pts)
Clear and thorough answers to questions. Explanation of project challenge, background, and findings logical and correct
Creativity and Innovation in Project (4 Pts)
Team successfully adapted, extended, transformed or experimented with a unique idea, question, format, or product to create something new
Knowledge/Understanding of the Underlying Science (5 Pts)
Team has an excellent understanding of the basic science or engineering associated with the project
Good use of Scientific Methods of Investigation/Execution (5 Pts)
Excellent, clear and thorough identification of project plan, methods of investigation, design and implementation processes
Execution Difficulty and Risk (6 Pts)
Team has chosen a difficult, high-risk, high-payoff project and effort was admirable
Actual Public or Community Engagement (2 Pts)
Project actually did engage with and/or got a lot of support from local or non-local community