Q and A

  • I am interested in this competition but it looks like it will be extremely difficult.
    It is challenging. We believe based on last year's teams that you should plan 2-3 hours per week on the project. That doesn't mean you have to work on that kind of a timeline, but it is better to work consistently over the course of the winter and spring rather than try to do it all at once
  • Does our team have to complete every assignment each week?
    No...that would be like...well...school. ;-) You do not have to do all weekly assignments. Only choose assignments that you feel will help advance your core innovative ideas and your solution. If two teams have tie scores on the finished product, we will then look at the number and quality of assignments completed to make a determination about individual and team growth and will award more points to teams that completed assignments.
  • How will communication with other team members take place? How does communication with team members from other countries take place?
    Communication is through the Internet. We use Skype-a free download at www.skype.com. This is very much like an instant message program, but free. We will also provide your team an online portfolio space called eFolio. In this space you can hold discussions, post notes you've taken, write a paragraph and ask for feedback, and you will eventually create your final business plan in here. The team members from other countries are required to be proficient in Englis
  • Is a new invention truly necessary, or would you look favorably upon any feasible business plan that would benefit the environment?
    The key to understanding the product required is completely spelled out in the Business Plan Rubric. We use the word "product" quite a bit in the rubric, which indicates a need for a scientific, technological, engineering or mathematical breakthrough. That said, many successful teams have built "service businesses" as their main "product." In many cases, the innovation is one that takes existing technologies and puts them together in a new configuration or toward a new purpose, so "any feasible business plan" is a possibility.
  • How do advisors play a role in the competition?
    The advisors are there to help keep you on track. It could be a parent, teacher, counselor, coach, community member, etc. Anyone who will help make sure you are getting the resources and support you need. We will communicate with them regularly to ask them to look at the team's progress, make sure communication is happening regularly, and generally support you
  • Should we develop a lot of ideas for the Patent Office, or just submit one idea?
    It is a good idea to focus in one which of your ideas should be developed into the business plan, rather than generate a lot options for the Patent Office. Some teams get stuck when it comes to figuring out which idea to put the most energy into. So do some "back of the envelope" estimating of which innovative idea has the most potential to make a positive impact on global warming while also being feasible or imaginable given the constraints of possibility for science and technology.