Middle School and High School Divisions

The 2024 K12 Innovation Challenge is all about safeguarding fish and wildlife—within your local community or on a global scale. Encourage your student to explore these project ideas across six themes, then have them choose a theme and unleash their creativity!

Habitat Restoration

Ocean Vitality

Future Farm

Endangered Species

Animal Welfare & Rescue

Community Engagement

Does your student need a spark of inspiration?

Students can explore ways to restore local habitats, raise ecosystem awareness, or address invasive species.

  • Example: Projects could include creating birdhouses, butterfly gardens, or bee-friendly spaces in schoolyards or community parks.

Students can explore ways to improve water ecosystems, mammal and fish health, human-animal interactions, or overfishing.

  • Example: Projects could involve cleaning up bodies of water, removing pollutants, and reintroducing native aquatic species.

Students can explore eco-friendly practices for new generations of farming and agriculture, farm waste management, and sustainable livestock feed.

  • Example: Projects could involve planning ways to implement sustainable practices in community or home gardens.

Students can explore strategies to protect and revive endangered species, including habitat restoration, anti-poaching initiatives, and captive breeding programs.

  • Example: Projects could involve creating a habitat restoration plan for a specific endangered species’ natural environment or develop an awareness campaign to combat the illegal trade threatening endangered species.

Students can investigate innovative approaches to improve animal welfare and facilitate rescue efforts, including technology-driven tracking systems for lost pets, animal adoption platforms, and designing animal-friendly shelters.

  • Example: Students could create a mobile app connecting pet owners to nearby veterinary services or rescue organizations or design an eco-friendly and energy-efficient animal shelter that promotes well-being and rehabilitation.

Students can plan projects that involve the local community in animal habitat rehabilitation efforts, such as clean-up events, tree-planting initiatives, or wildlife monitoring programs.

  • Example: Students could host educational workshops on topics like composting, energy conservation, or wildlife protection to encourage sustainable living within the community.

Registration deadline is 11:59 PM (ET) on January 16, 2024.

Please note, students must submit a short pitch—6 or 7 sentences—when they register. They’ll have an opportunity to expand their idea and submit a full proposal or project by January 31, 2024. Parents or guardians must register on behalf of students who are age 13 or under.

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.

  • 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.

Winners and Prizes

Semi-finalists will receive a trip to Reston, Virginia, where they will present their proposals in person at the K12 headquarters. Each member of the national winning team in grades 6–8 and 9–12 will receive a student trip with the Ecology Project. The People's Choice winning team will receive a Microsoft Surface tablet for each team member.

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


Middle School and High School Finalists Present Proposals