Phases of the Challenge

The Challenge is a school-year-long program which is divided into several phases. The following brief description of the phases will give you an overview of the year.

Phase One - Registration : September

The invitation to participate is sent out during late August. Online registration opens in September, and can be accessed until about the third week of the month. Once the team has completed registration, the Team Entry Authorization Form signature sheet must be sent to the Challenge.

A registration fee (usually around $40) is required for each student participating in the program. Scholarships will be made available for those students who could not participate without them.

Phase Two - Kickoff Training Session: October

A two-day Kickoff Conference will be held at a Conference Center. Instructors from the sponsoring national laboratories, private industry, and universities will provide training so participants can access the network and computers, learn about supercomputers and how to work with them, get some ideas about how to approach their projects, and find out the details of participating in the Challenge. There will be instruction for newcomers to the Challenge as well as for those with experience.

Phase Three - School Visits : November

Challenge Representatives will, upon request from students and/or teachers, visit teams at their respective schools to address any issues, answer questions and ensure that you can connect to the Internet and Los Alamos National Laboratory. If it can be arranged, the Challenge representative would like to meet with the Principal or Headmaster.

Phase Four - Project Refinement and Interim Reports Due : October through December

After the Kickoff Conference, teams will have until late December (when the Interim Report is due), to refine their projects for the submittal of the Interim Report and subsequent participation.

Each team must electronically submit a report that describes the project, tells about the progress to date, and states the expected results of the work.

Phase Five - Project Evaluation : January - February

In February, team members will make an oral presentation, not to exceed 30 minutes, to a team of Challenge judges so that the judges can better understand their project, review progress and offer advice and direction on overcoming obstacles or finding additional resources.

To prepare for these evaluations, we recommend setting up presentations for peers in January, where your friends, family, teachers, faculty members can judge you as practice.

NOTE: All team members do not have to be present - but it is highly recommended that they be there if not competing elsewhere.

Phase Six - Submission of Final Project Report and Scholarship Applications : April

Teams will have until early April to complete and run their projects. Each team must submit a final report by that time. Specifications for this report are described at Final Reports.

Each Challenge year, scholarships may be awarded based on qualities demonstrated by individuals applying for consideration for the Scholarship Program. These scholarships are not automatic, and students wishing to be considered MUST apply. Application details are on the scholarship page.

Phase Seven - Final Judging and Awarding of Prizes : April

In April at the conclusion of the Challenge, a panel of judges evaluates the team projects and the individual scholarship applicants. A number of teams are selected as first-round finalist teams and they will be judged by the finalist judges first while the rest of the teams present their projects to the Expo judges during the Expo. A number of teams from the Expo will be selected as second-round finalist teams and present to the finalist judges later. During the 30 minute presentations, the judges question team members about project details.

Applicants for the scholarships are also invited to Los Alamos in April and are interviewed by the judges. Each individual is asked to describe his or her role on the team.

All Challenge participants who have submitted a final report are encouraged to attend the Expo and Awards Ceremony in Los Alamos in April to present their projects.