Thank you for submitting your BIG ideas! The K12 Innovation Challenge is now closed.

We asked students in grades K–12 who are interested in protecting the environment to work individually or as teams of up to three to submit a proposal for solutions in one of the six theme areas:

Habitat Restoration

Ocean Vitality

Future Farm

Endangered Species

Animal Welfare & Rescue

Community Engagement

The countdown is on for the 2024 K12 Innovation Challenge in-person finals for our middle school and high school finalists. These students will travel to Reston, VA where they will present their proposal to a panel of judges to determine one winner in middle school and one winner in high school who will win a trip with the Ecology Project! 🌎
Date: June 17th, 2024
Time: 8:30am ET
This event will showcase the incredible creativity and ingenuity of young minds from across the country. Don’t miss this opportunity to witness the future of innovation! 🎉

Win Big With Innovative Solutions!

Elementary Division

Prizes will be awarded to the top projects in the Elementary Division.

Middle School and High School Divisions

Students with the top proposals in each theme from the Middle School and High School Divisions will be invited to present at the K12 headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Finalists will compete for exciting prizes, including a student trip with the Ecology Project.

A People's Choice Award will be presented to the team in each divisions with the most public votes.

Meet our partners!

Representatives from our partners will serve on the competition's panel of judges.

Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants brings those on the frontlines of science, animals, exploration, conservation, and adventure live into the classroom.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium believes in preserving our environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life; environmental education; research; and conservation.

Ecology Project International (EPI) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to engage local communities in youth development, leadership, and habitat conservation through science-focused travel programs for students and teachers.

2024 Competition Schedule

Jan. 16

Registration & Pitch Ideas Submission Deadline

Jan. 31

Proposal Submission Deadline

Feb. 5-16

Round 1 Judging

Feb. 19-April 1

Round 2 Judging

Earth Day, April 22

Finalists Notified & Elementary Division Winners Announced

June 17

Middle School and High School Finalists Present Proposals In-Person

Unleashing Ingenuity: Innovation Challenge Details!

The K12 National Innovation Challenge is open to all students in grades K–12. Students enrolled at K12-powered schools or any other school in the U.S. can submit their proposal to be considered. Parents or guardians must register on behalf of students who are age 13 or under.

Students can submit a proposal individually, as a pair, or as a team of three.

Students interested in participating should begin by completing the registration form, including a short pitch (6 or 7 sentences) for their solution in 1 of the 6 theme areas. Registration must be completed by 5 PM (ET) on January 16, 2024.

Once registered, students will receive an email with access to a proposal template and the link to submit their full proposal by January 31, 2024.

Each proposal must be original in concept, design, and execution and may not violate U.S. copyright laws. Any entry copied or created by someone other than the student violates the competition rules and will not be accepted.

Proposals can be submitted in Word or PPT format. Google Docs or Slides are also acceptable. The proposal must be created solely by the entering team.

All proposals must be received no later than 11:59 PM (ET) on January 31, 2024. Proposals submitted after the deadline will not be eligible to win.

Judging criteria for the Elementary Division: 

When reviewing each proposal, the judges will consider the following criteria:

  • Environmental Impact and Alignment. Did the project align with the chosen theme issue? Is it kind to animals and nature? (25%)
  • Creativity and Presentation. Is the idea or project creative? Is the presentation easy to understand? If entering as a team, did the students work well together? Are they excited about their idea? (25%)
  • Practicality and Feasibility. Can the idea be done in real life? Is it a sensible plan? (25%)
  • Community Engagement and Impact. Did the student or students engage friends, family, or the community in this project? (25%)

There will be three rounds of judging for the Elementary Division.

  • Round 1: Judges will review proposals and select the top 5 proposals in each theme to advance to Round 2 (30 proposals).
  • Round 2, the Semi-Finals: Judges will review the top proposals and select 2 proposals per theme to advance to Round 3 (12 proposals).
  • Round 3, the Final Round: A panel of judges will review the semi-finalists’ proposals and determine a 1st- and 2nd-place winner. One team will also be declared the K–5 People’s Choice Innovation Challenge winner based on public voting.
  • Winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22, 2024.



Judging criteria for the Middle School and High School Division: 

When reviewing each proposal, the judges will consider the following criteria:

  • Environmental Impact and Alignment. How well does the proposal align with the chosen theme (e.g., habitat restoration, ocean vitality, future farm, etc.)? Does the proposal show a depth of understanding of the environmental issue and its relevance to the chosen theme?  (25%)
  • Innovation, Presentation, Collaboration, and Passion: How do the various aspects of the proposal relate to the innovation? Is the presentation clear and easy to understand? Does the student(s) demonstrate teamwork and a level of passion and commitment to the proposal? (25%)
  • Implementation and Viability: Is the proposed solution feasible, practical, and viable for real-world application? (25%)
  • Community Engagement and Impact. To what extent does the proposal engage with and positively impact the community? (25%)

There will be three rounds of judging for the middle/high school divisions.

  • Round 1: Judges will review proposals and select the top 3 proposals in each theme in grades 6–8 and 9–12 to advance to Round 2 (36 proposals).
  • Round 2, the Semi-Finals: Judges will review the top 36 proposals and select 1 proposal per theme in grades 6–8 and 9–12 to advance to Round 3 (12 proposals).
  • Round 3, the National Competition: Semi-finalists will compete in person in Reston, Virginia. A panel of judges will declare 1 team in grades 6–8 and 1 team in grades 9–12 grade as the 2024 K12 Innovation Challenge winners. All semi-finalists will be eligible for the People Choice Award, which will be determined by public voting.

Please see here for the rules and regulations related to our competition. These terms and conditions must be agreed to when registering for the Innovation Challenge.

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