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.
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.