Exploravision is an annual science competition for K-12 students in the United States and Canada. The competition is designed to encourage students to think imaginatively about the future of technology and foster a passion for science, innovation, and teamwork.
It is a team-based competition, with different requirements for each grade level. With the help of your team, you work to create a project that is focused on improving existing technology for the future.
If you win, you will be offered numerous prizes and recognition for both you and your team. Winning a prize from Exploravision is a very prestigious and recognizable honor that will affirm your innovation, critical thinking, and passion.
Additionally, showcasing your submissions as part of your college application will help demonstrate your motivation, problem-solving skills, and teamwork skills!
As a bonus, we’ve also added 3 tips that can help you win Exploravision!
How to enter?
The first step will be to form and then register your team. Exploravision requires each team to consist of two-to-four students and one coach. Students must be full-time students in grades K-12—while they don’t have to attend the same school, they do have to be part of the same grade. There is no entry fee for the program: teams are entered by submitting their final projects. The requirements for project submission varies depending on your grade. For example, grades K-3 are asked to use a ready-to-fill-out project template to complete and enter their project. These instructions can be found on the Exploravision website. This year, the project deadline is January 31, 2024.
There are six categories of prizes. Out of all the competitors, First Place Prize is only given to four teams, and includes a U.S. EE Savings Bond worth $10,000 at maturity for each student. The Second Place Prize is also given to four teams, and includes a U.S. EE Savings Bond worth $5,000 at maturity for each student. National Finalist prizes are awarded to just eight teams, and include a trip to Washington, D.C., in June for Exploravision Awards Weekend.
Regional winners are also giving cash prizes, goodies, tech, as well as certificates.
7 reasons why you should participate in Exploravision
An accessible and well-known science competition, if you are interested in tech, innovation, and STEM in general, you should consider participating in Exploravision! In this guide, we’ve listed 7 reasons why you should consider applying.
1. It will help you foster creativity.
You are asked to choose a topic that you are passionate about and make it your own, allowing for all kinds of ideas. This is your chance to think outside the box. The ability to be creative with what you love will be a skill that you’ll be asked to take far into the future. It is no question that colleges value creativity and originality: participating in a competition known for encouraging innovative solutions will only be a bonus to you. Additionally, this creativity and drive for innovation can be reflected in your admissions essay, or even while considering future research projects. More than participating in the competition, it is more important that you focus on building skills and perspectives that can assist you at university, and in your career after!
2. The competition will help develop your research skills
Exploravision gives you the opportunity to conduct in-depth research on a specific topic. Each project must include an abstract, description, bibliography, and five sample web pages, including a model or visual representation of your chosen technology. If you have little experience in writing an abstract, this is the perfect opportunity to try your hand at it and learn what makes a good abstract. With your team, you will go through the same process that all professional researchers go through: come up with an idea or hypothesis, conduct research, design an experiment, test your idea, and improve on it. You’ll learn quickly how to gather information, evaluate sources, and synthesize your findings into a comprehensive report. If you’re looking towards a future career in STEM, this is a fantastic first platform to develop the necessary skills.
3. The award is prestigious
Exploravision offers various prizes and recognition for outstanding projects at regional and national levels. Out of the thousands of competitors, the First Place Prize for each grade level is only given to four teams. Only eight teams achieve the national finalist level. Winning anything at the national level, and even the regional level, is a huge plus on your resume. You’ll be sure to mark yourself to potential colleges as a standout in scientific research, creative thinking, collaboration and more. You can choose to work on your innovation/idea even at university, and include your participation (or win) as part of your college application. Not only does it help you demonstrate your skills and dedication towards skill-building and dedication towards STEM, but also adds a commendable project to your portfolio.
4. Exploravision fosters teamwork
Exploravision is a team-based competition that promotes success through collaboration and teamwork. Your team-based skills, communication, and problem-solving will no doubt improve tenfold as you collectively develop and refine your ideas. Knowing how to successfully work in a team is also a skill that colleges value greatly. By winning this competition, you show that you were able to work with others in an effective and dynamic manner, only making each other better. Additionally, participating in Exploravision as a team can be used to show admission officers that you are capable of handling academics and research at the college level as part of a team or group.
5. You’ll engage with real-world issues.
This competition encourages you to identify and tackle real world problems. You might choose to center your project around the issues of sustainability, healthcare, transportation, communication, or any other topic that you find you could really evoke change in. In participating in Exploravision, you show that you not only recognize these real-world issues, but that you have been actively thinking of ways to improve on the situation and are eager to help change the world. You’ll emerge from the process both an innovator and a leader on this issue.
6. You can form a valuable network
Exploravision allows you to interact with mentors, scientists, and professionals who will provide guidance and feedback on your project. If research is what you hope to continue doing in the future, stay in touch with these people! This will open doors for future collaborations and mentorship. You’ll also be forming a network with your teammates who might be from different schools, or even states, but share your passion for solutions and ideas. These will be your teammates even after the competition is over, and you can turn to them for future advice, discussions, and projects.
7. You will gain presentation skills
Exploravision will require you to present your ideas in a compelling and coherent manner. This is a great opportunity to help you improve on your presentation skills and convey your ideas, progress, and conclusions in an effective manner. You will need to work on these presentation skills in multiple arenas, working on your public speaking and learning how to deliver an effective oral presentation, but also, for example, how to visually design your project in a comprehensive manner. This will be a valuable skill to carry forward; in your future university or career, you will often be given complex information that you’ll be asked to convey succinctly and clearly.
3 Tips to Help You Win
As with most well-known tournaments, you’ll be facing a lot of competition if you choose to participate in Exploravision. It is estimated that about 450,000 students from across the US since its inception in 1992. It can be a difficult process, especially if this is your first time conducting a research project. We’ve included three tips to help students increase their chances at success.
1. Look at previous projects
There’s no better way to set yourself up for success than to look at previous examples of success. By looking at previous winning projects, you can gauge the standard of what Exploravision is looking for in a winning project and understand what is needed, from the level of creativity, to the formatting of your bibliography. Exploravision offers examples of past winners from each grade level and even categorizes its examples into topics, so that if you’re looking for what an engineering-related project might look like, you can find one. You can look through previous winning submissions on the Exploravision website here.
2. Get to know your team
You won’t succeed in this team-based competition if you don’t know how to work with your team. Make sure that you get to know who your teammates are, what they're passionate about, what their strengths and weaknesses are, so that you can effectively work as a team. Otherwise, you’ll run into ineffective delegation. It’s also no fun if you don’t like your team! Make sure you have some down time to get to know your teammates casually outside of your competition work.
3. Seek feedback
Share your project with teachers, mentors, or professionals in the field. Ask for their feedback and then incorporate constructive criticism to refine and improve your project. Your team is allowed a mentor for a reason—make sure you use this resource! These are the experts best suited to help your project. You should ask for feedback on the content of the project but just as important is asking for feedback on the presentation of your project. This diagram might seem legible to you and your teammate but not to anyone else. You might be able to hear yourself but your mentor might ask you to speak up. Practice, practice, and practice in front of an audience until it’s perfect.
Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are passionate about research (including research in math or applied math fields!) then you could consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Amelia is a current junior at Harvard College studying art history with a minor in economics. She’s enthusiastic about music, movies, and writing, and is excited to help Lumiere’s students as much as she can!
Image Source: Exploravision logo