Selection process

Phase 1 eligibility screen and finalist selection criteria

At the conclusion of Phase 1, the challenge will screen mission proposals for eligibility. A judging panel will review eligible mission proposals and select up to five finalists.

The Department understands that due to current conditions, schools will need flexibility to safely collaborate when designing and building prototypes during the challenge. The Department looks forward to the creative solutions in the mission proposals it receives as challenge entries.

Each of the following five selection criteria may be assigned up to 20 points during the judging of Phase 1 mission proposals (for a total of up to 100 points):

  • Community engagement. The extent to which the mission proposal provides a vision of how the entrants will engage their broader student body and the local community. 
  • CTE connection. The extent to which the mission proposal demonstrates an ability and intention to incorporate available CTE programs and CTE students at the school into the mission.
  • Learning outcomes. The extent to which the mission proposal demonstrates an ability and intention to improve students’ knowledge and hands-on exposure to technical skills and multidisciplinary content.
  • Mission feasibility. The extent to which the mission proposal outlines a preliminary project plan that is clear and considers implementation challenges schools may face, such as cost and potential technological constraints.
  • Team composition. The extent to which the proposed team demonstrates involvement from a broad cross section of students, including, but not limited to, students in various grade levels and students with disabilities.

Judges may assign up to five bonus points during the judging of mission proposals (in addition to a total score of up to 100 points, for a total score of up to 105 points) based on the following selection criteria:

  • Addressing need. The extent to which the student population served by the eligible entity is low-income, as defined by the percentage of students enrolled in free and reduced price lunch programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1759), as amended through P.L. 116–6.

The Department will review the judging panels’ recommendations; to ensure diverse distribution of awards among the top-scoring mission proposals, ED may consider additional characteristics when selecting finalists, including:

  • Geographic location and local population density.
  • Percentage of students enrolled in free and reduced price lunch programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1759), as amended.
  • School size (number of students).

Phase 2 winner selection criteria

At the conclusion of Phase 2, a judging panel may review flight reports and select winners.

Each of the following five selection criteria would be assigned up to 20 points during the judging of Phase 2 flight reports (for a total of up to 100 points):

  • Community engagement. The extent to which the flight report demonstrates significant engagement of the broader student body and the local community.
  • CTE connection. The extent to which the flight report demonstrates an incorporation of available CTE at the school.
  • Learning outcomes. The extent to which the flight report demonstrates evolution and improvement of student knowledge and hands-on exposure to technical skills.
  • Mission execution. The extent to which the flight report demonstrates a completed execution of the project plan and documents launch results.
  • Team composition. The extent to which the team demonstrates involvement from a broad cross section of students, including various grade levels, students with disabilities, multidisciplinary subjects, and CTE programs and skills.