Team Members: What Makes a Good Entry?'

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What Makes a Good Entry?

Year after year, the Christopher Columbus Awards panel of judges has the difficult job of selecting eight finalist teams from an ample pool of superb entries. If you're like many students and coaches, you may be wondering what it takes to become one of those teams. So we asked a select group of judges, sponsors and Christopher Columbus Awards staff to tell us what makes a good entry. While they all agreed that creativity and practicality are important, they also identified other qualities that characterize good entries. We've trimmed the list down to the following characteristics, cited consistently by everyone. If you want your entry to stand out in judging, we recommend that you take these tips to heart!

Good entries in the Christopher Columbus Awards:

  • Show evidence of teamwork. Good entries come from teams that work well together and take full advantage of every member's talents. Dividing up tasks is fine, but everyone's contribution should significantly benefit the team and its entry.
  • Address a widespread problem. Good entries tackle problems with an observable impact on a large segment of the community. The problem should stem from a recurring phenomenon that has not yet been effectively resolved, rather than an isolated incident.
  • Propose a feasible solution. Good entries present solutions that are not only creative and original, but also realistic and achievable within the scope of the award.
  • Demonstrate a clear link to science and technology. Good entries exhibit a strong, direct relationship between the team's problem and solution and science and technology. They also provide credible supporting data grounded in accurate scientific principles.
  • Reflect a complete understanding of the issue. Good entries illustrate the team's understanding of the problem and its implications, as well as the solution and the science behind it. Background research and ongoing team communication are vital to insuring that every team member understands and can effectively explain the complete entry.
  • Include a well-written essay. Good entries feature a well-organized, detailed essay that adheres to competition guidelines. Accurate spelling and grammar are important, so proofreading is a must.
  • Include a compelling visual. Good entries employ a powerful visual presentation to illuminate the team's problem and solution. Drawings should be accurate and easy to understand. Photographs should be clear when photocopied. Audio/video components should be intelligible.