Energy Innovation is a real world design competition. It was developed to provide a full-scale photovoltaic design challenge for middle school and high school students to give them an opportunity to explore the growing technology of photovoltaics.
Design and Construction
Under a teacher's or qualified mentor's supervision, each team of 2 - 6 students is responsible for designing and building a fully operational demonstration product or artistic work that is powered by photovoltaics. The PV module or array provided by this competition will enable the team to produce electricity sufficient to power many real-world stand alone photovoltaic applications. The challenge is to use the energy generated by the PV module or array effectively and creatively.
- Teams may use a photovoltaic panel not to exceed 100 watts(middle school) or a 699 watt array (high school) for the competition. No extra photovoltaic modules may be added to power the design. However, high school teams are not required to use all of the modules in their array if their designs require less power.
- Teams may not build scale models. All projects must be full-sized and fully-realized designs.
- An auxiliary marketing piece is to be created by the team. This is discussed below.
- All teams must be able to discuss their designs with a panel of judges. In the event they are unable to transport their designs to the competition, the team must produce and use documents, photos, videos, schematics, energy flow charts, etc. to fully convey their project and its performance. Teams should have enough supporting materials to adequately represent their design and student construction–refer to the Judging Criteria below for what areas will need to be covered.
- Safety is of the utmost importance, and relates to the purpose of your design. If your product is meant to be used outdoors (as most will be), then all wiring and components need to be suitable for outside use. Additionally, since these designs will be on display, you should take into account your project's safety around children and the general (inquisitive) public; avoid dangling wires and uncovered connections. The Education Department of the Florida Solar Energy Center will answer any electrical safety questions. Please call if you need advice.
- The same design may be used for more than one year, but the design must display at least a 40% change over the previous year.
Projects that are deemed unsafe will be disqualified
- High school teams may assemble their arrays and rewire them to obtain the voltage and current that they desire.
- Batteries may be used in the design but are not required for applications that are meant to only work during sun hours.
- Designs do not have to be practical or marketable by today’s standards–whimsical or forward-thinking designs are encouraged.
Design Marketing Materials
Each team is to create a marketing piece to accompany their design. The purpose of the marketing piece is to highlight the useful, creative and/or functional aspects of their project as well as the usability of photovoltaics. These can be in any format that the team chooses. Examples might include:
- Video clip/television commercial
- Web page
These examples are not meant to be exclusive; students are encouraged to be creative. The marketing piece should be geared toward the general public.
Teams will also be judged on how well the design is marketed to the judging team. This will include knowledge of the team members, verbal presentation to the judges, and the team’s salesmanship. Teams are also encouraged to interact with the public. If you need a larger space, please let us know prior to competition day.
At the competition, each team will have a 'booth' space at least ten feet wide (with a 6' table if desired), in which to display their design, marketing materials or anything else they choose. These display spaces will be in a marked area outdoors. If running water, 120 volt AC power, or additional space is needed for the display, prior notice must be given.
The teams will be judged on their designs, as well as creativity, and presentation. Judges will be looking for knowledge in photovoltaic application as well as in the specific design created by the students.
- Design Decisions--How well does the team understand PV design? How well thought out are their design decisions? Was careful attention paid to parts selection and integration? Was proper attention paid to safety issues?
- Construction Technique--How well did the students construct their design? Is the design durable?
- Design Function--How well does the design function according to team specified goals?
- Delivered Message--How well is photovoltaic technology and renewable energy represented both in their project and their marketing materials and their ‘salesmanship’?
- Creativity of Design--How creative is the design? Is it a novel or interesting solution to a problem?
- Marketing Materials--Do the market materials inspire interest or create demand for the product?
Energy Innovation Awards
The awards will be as follows:
- 1st Place Design (separate awards for middle & high school)
- 2nd Place Design (separate awards for middle & high school)
- 3rd Place Design (separate awards for middle & high school)
- WOW! Award, for the most creative/artistic entry (combined middle & high school)