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What qualifies as a "Solution"

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  • What qualifies as a "Solution"

    Is changing policy a solution? Or should our solution be a thing that we invent?

    Here's the text from the Challenge Guide, but it doesn't really answer my question: "Next, your team will design a solution to the problem. Any solution is a good start. The ultimate goal is to design an innovative solution that adds value to society by improving something that already exists, using something that exists in a new way, or inventing something totally new."

  • #2
    Changing policy is a solution. Raising public awareness is a solution. Technological innovation is a solution. If you decide to change policy be prepared to explain in detail how you plan to implement your policy change. I think policy and awareness solutions are doubly difficult because you need to come up with an idea for solving the problem AND a plan for the policy change or awareness campaign. At least one of which still has to be innovative.


    • #3
      Hi Mandysedai, Welcome to the Forums.

      A couple of years ago, I had a team that went off the deep end about lead wheel weights, teamed up with an environmental activist group, and ended up having bills submitted in both houses of the state legislature to ban them. (Died in committee, current political climate isn't encouraging, or they'd have tried again.)

      During postseason, the general judging rubrics came back truly amazed at what they had done, ranking them apparently fairly highly, but dinging them somewhat on "innovation." Because other states had already written that legislation and passed it! Didn't matter to the team, they wanted "lead out of babies' brains.".

      I judged a different team that wanted to discourage food waste in landfills. Beautiful graphics, compelling arguments, couldn't have agreed more with them. But they didn't have a clue about how to get the practice effectively reduced, other than public awareness. They also hadn't shared the info anywhere. In the deliberations room, there was serious discussion about whether it counted as a "solution," which is required for advancement and awards.

      Getting through to legislators is HARD, but worth it if the kids think it is cool to sit in paneled offices with old white men in suits. Getting your team into the offices of UNESCO and working to change policy about water access would be a life changing experience for them. Putting up posters in the local library to stop the dripping faucet, less so. Where does your team fall?

      The best advice I can offer is to go to a scrimmage, ask to volunteer as a project judge, and hopefully shadow an experienced judge there. You'll see the range of solutions, and you'll see it from a judges's viewpoint. There is no firm rule about what a solution is, although a physical gadget with plans and a prototype is definitely a solution. "Changing Policy" would need a concrete plan, such as "get a bill passed" or maybe "change the wording on the sewer bill."

      If your teams' idea makes the world a better place, can actually be done with a good plan to do it, they share it with people who can use it, and they present it with passion and integrity, then they will do well.


      • #4
        Thank you for all the feedback on this topic.

        Quick question, in the past we had guidelines on the project board ( but I cannot find anything in or on the web. Has anyone found any guidance?


        • #5
          To the best of my knowledge, there is no such thing as a Project Board. Teams are encouraged to do all kinds of different possible presentations.

          I've seen great teams do a Project Board, but it's not the focus of the presentation. It was a convenient place to put pictures or hang the prototype. It was VERY nice to have in the pits, to show their work to other teams.


          • #6
            The Core Values poster is a requirement, and the arrangement of the information has to follow a specific template. A project board or poster is not required but our team has found it very helpful to have one.


            • #7
              Originally posted by nedcook View Post
              The Core Values poster is a requirement
              Note that it's not a requirement for all locales


              • #8
                Originally posted by rjbell4 View Post

                Note that it's not a requirement for all locales
                Yes indeed. I temporarily forgot that. Thanks for the clarification.