The SciChallenge project is progressing well during the phase of preparing the contest. In the recent period of the project, several major steps towards the actual start of the contest were made. This includes the finalisation of the knowledge aggregation, which provided the basis for the development of the contest concept. Furthermore, it also included several steps for increasing awareness for the project.
Comparing Participatory Science Contests
Generally, there are two approaches to definition of tasks in the existing contests: (1) precisely defined problems or questions that contestants have to solve or answer, (2) broad categories or topics that contestants can choose to develop their projects. Science and engineering fairs usually define categories or topics that the contestants have to address in their project. The comparison also showed that other contests usually use online competition for the preliminary stages of the competition and then the finalists are invited to a face-to-face competition. Furthermore, most of the existing competitions are multi-stage. They are organized at regional, national and international level. The winners of the lower stage proceed to the higher stage of the competition. The analysis also highlights that the evaluation of the projects of science and engineering fairs tend to be more complex. Contestants describe their projects with multiple artefacts: technical report (up to 20 pages), presentation slides, YouTube video, demonstration prototypes. The good practice analysis highlighted many important aspects, from which the consortium drew inspirations for SciChallenge. Therefore, they served as general guidelines for the development of the SciChallenge contest.
The SciChallenge Contest
The consortium developed a precise concept for the contest, including the many inspirations from other examples. Starting with 50 topic sheets, which are provided on the SciChallenge Platform, the participants will dig deeper into a topic and prepare their contribution. The participants can either prepare a posters, a presentation or a video. For submitting their contribution, the participants have to follow a 2-step process. First, the contribution in the form of a poster, presentation slides or a video is uploaded in one of the main Social Media sites, which guarantee a broad distribution and intuitive functionalities. Second, the participants will register on the SciChallenge Platform for the contest and include the link to their contribution.
Regarding the rating, SciChallenge combines online community rating with traditional jury rating to rank the contributions of contestants. In order to be among the winners, the contributions need to present the problem in a clear manner, include a scientific approach (based on existing knowledge), are creative regarding their realization, have an added value that ensures a sustainable exploitation and sharing beyond the contest, and present ideas and future thinking aiming at addressing major challenges.
Based on these aspects, the 12 final winners of SciChallenge will be selected. All winners will receive a trip to the final award event taking place in Vienna in July 2017 as well as additional prizes.
In order to promote SciChallenge, a video was produced and uploaded on YouTube. It provides initial information on the contest and should motivate young people and teachers to keep track of SciChallenge.
The project consortium has also been active in dissemination activities since the project started. Dissemination actions include website articles, presentations on external events and conferences, participation on open days and workshops as well as online and social media promotion. This includes an article in the HiPEAC Info 46 as well as presentations at the conference “New Perspectives in Science Education” in Italy (March 2016), at the “EUROMATH” in Greece (March 2016) or at the “PCST Conference” in Istanbul (April 2016). The reactions of the different audiences were very positive and flyers were distributed.
Towards the SciChallenge contest
In order to start the SciChallenge contest on time, an early prototype of the webplatform is currently developed. It will be finalized until the beginning of the contest. Furthermore, toolkits – in the sense of guidelines and instructions – are currently developed. They aim at the participants as well as at teachers and parents and provide information on the rules and required steps for participating in the contest. In order to inspire the participants, 50 topic sheets are currently prepared. These 1-page sheets present an overview of a broad variety of STEM-topics from different angles and should serve as a catalyst for preparing a contribution for the SciChallenge contest. The actual promotion of the contest will then start in July and August.