The following exercises are suggested activities to help the team identify, research and test their ideas. These activities will help guide the team through all phases of the project.
Ask students to think further about community issues that are important to them and bring in two or three more ideas. As an extension, students could write a brief, one-page essay about the different sides of one specific issue or conduct interviews with friends or relatives to learn about other sides of the issue.
Have teams decide which community issue they want to address and spend some time brainstorming scientific and technological solutions. Each student should write out three or four possible innovative solutions for the issue. Encourage students to engage in creative thinking as they develop their solution ideas — at this stage, all ideas are acceptable, and the more the better.
Have teams conduct research and write a one-page essay identifying their issue and explaining how they chose that issue, why it's important to the team and to the community and what would happen if this problem is not addressed. This will serve as the team's first draft of Section 1 of the competition entry (see Entry Components & Checklist).
Have students research their community issue to learn as much as they can about the problem and its potential solutions. As they conduct their research, students should keep a list of the resources they used (people, organizations, the Internet, etc.), the information they used to understand the issue and the steps they took to formulate their proposed solution. Have students use this information to write their first draft of Section 2 (Research) of the competition entry (see Entry Components & Checklist).
Have students test their proposed solution. As they test, they should also complete Section 3 (Testing) of the competition entry, explaining how they organized the test, what problems or variables they accounted for, the results of their test and any re-testing they needed to do.
Have students complete Section 4 (The Solution) of the competition entry, explaining their solution and how it could be made a reality in their community. Students will also need to address any challenges to implementing their solution. Any additional tests the team needs to conduct should be completed by the next deadline.
Students should review their written entry and finalize it within two weeks for coach review or a class grade. Give your comments back to students by mid-January so they can complete their entry and prepare it for submission to the competition.
Students also should prepare the visual component of their competition entry for your review. Remember, all entries must be postmarked by February 4, 2013. Make sure students allow enough time to finalize their entry materials and mail by the deadline. Timeline should be adjusted to meet competition deadline.