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What Makes Toshiba ExploraVision A Standout

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

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What Makes Toshiba ExploraVision A Standout

ExploraVision is a national science contest held in the United States and Canada, organized by Toshiba Corporation and the National Science Teachers Association. Aimed at K–12 students of all interests, skill, and ability levels, ExploraVision encourages participants to envision future technology by developing innovative applications of current science.

In this blog, we discuss what Exloravision is about and provide tips on how you can maximize your experience.

What is Exploravision? A Quick Overview

ExploraVision is a science competition that goes beyond typical student contests, aiming to turn ideas into reality. With the guidance of a teacher, students form teams of 2-4 members to simulate real-world research and development. The teacher mentors the students as they choose an existing technology, research its current state, and imagine its evolution over the next decade or more. They must detail the development process, advantages, disadvantages, and potential challenges. Previous winning projects have included a portable food allergen detector and a device that enables real-time movement for individuals with lost limbs.

“The ExploraVision competition for K-12 students engages the next generation in real world problem solving with a strong emphasis on STEM. ExploraVision challenges students envision and communicate new technology 10 or more years in the future through collaborative brainstorming and research of current science and technology.” Exploravision Org

The ExploraVision competition for K-12 students, sponsored by Toshiba and organized by the NSTA, encourages you to solve real-world problems with a strong focus on STEM. ExploraVision encourages you to imagine and describe new technologies that could exist 20 years into the future through collaborative brainstorming and thorough research of current scientific and technological advancements.

View of students being trained by a professional.

This competition promotes problem-solving, team-based learning, critical thinking, and communication skills. It also aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards.

How does Exploravision work?

Participants are required to complete a project that envisions a science or technology concept 20 years into the future. Each project must have an abstract, a detailed description, a bibliography, and five sample web pages. Each student is allowed to submit only one project online per year.

The following is the abridged version of how the competition is formatted:

  • Step 1: Select a technology that you believe has potential for improvement.
  • Step 2: Assemble a team of like-minded peers to collaborate on the project.
  • Step 3: Conduct thorough research to understand the chosen technology’s current state and future possibilities.
  • Step 4: Adhere to the prescribed format for your project, ensuring all required components are included.
  • Step 5: Submit your completed project according to the competition guidelines.
  • Step 6: Upon submission, you will receive a gift as a token of participation.

Exploravision Categories

Each category will be judged independently, considering the abilities of students in those grade levels. ExploraVision is divided into four categories:

  1. Primary Level (Grades K-3)
  2. Upper Elementary Level (Grades 4-6)
  3. Middle Level (Grades 7-9)
  4. High School Level (Grades 10-12)

Exploravision Requirements

Each student is allowed to submit only one project per year. However, a teacher or coach can participate in multiple projects annually. A complete project submission must include:

  • An abstract (maximum 150 words)
  • The project description (up to 11 pages)
  • A bibliography
  • Five sample web pages

You must submit your projects online and adhere to the guidelines outlined in the project format section for your grade level category. Submission materials will not be returned, so make sure to keep a copy for your records.

Cropped picture of students using computers in a classroom

Important Dates

If you plan on participating in the Exploravision, take note of the following key dates:

Timeline Events
January 31, 2024 Project Submission Deadline
April 1-22, 2024 Announcement of Regional Winners
May 6, 2024 Announcement of National Winners
June 14-15, 2024 ExploraVision Awards

Who is eligible to participate?

The ExploraVision competition is open to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Students must be full-time students in grades K-12. While team members do not need to attend the same school, they must be in the same grade level.
  • All participants must be U.S. or Canadian citizens residing in the United States, U.S. territories, or Canada, and enrolled full-time in a public, private, or home school.
  • You must be 21 years old or younger to participate.
  • Employees of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), NSTA board members, ExploraVision judges, and their families are not eligible.
  • Projects that have won at ExploraVision’s regional or national levels cannot be re-submitted in future years. Additionally, any project that has previously won a prize in another competition is not eligible.
  • If you were a regional or national finalist in ExploraVision, you can only compete in subsequent years with a new team of students who have not previously been finalists.
  • You must enter as a team of 2-4 students with a teacher or coach, and an optional mentor. Individual entries are not allowed.

Exploravision Standard Project Format

Every project submission must consist of an abstract, a description, a bibliography, five sample web pages, and must be submitted online. Below are the required components for the project. (Note for teams from lower grades: there are no minimum requirements for word count or page numbers for each section.) Refer to standard ExploraVision sample project entries for guidance.

Three architects talking to each other.

1. Abstract

The abstract should succinctly summarize the proposed future technology and include any pertinent information. It must be no longer than 150 words and should be presented on a separate page, not included in the page count for the Description section.

2. Description

The project Description section should be a maximum of 11 pages and can include both text and artwork. It must contain the following sections, clearly labeled with headings and presented in the specified order:

  • Present Technology: Provide an overview of the current state of the technology, including the scientific principles that govern its operation. Identify a major challenge or limitation of this technology that your ExploraVision project will address.
  • History: Explore and describe the history of the technology, tracing its development from inception to its present form.
  • Future Technology: Explain the team’s vision for what this technology will become in the next 10 years, including the scientific principles that will guide its development. This section, along with Breakthroughs, Design Process, and Consequences, carries the most weight in the judging process. Devote at least two-thirds of your description to these areas.
  • Breakthroughs: Identify and describe the breakthroughs needed to make your future technology a reality. Explain why this technology doesn’t exist today. Select one critical breakthrough and outline a research project that would need to be conducted to test your ExploraVision project. Include potential data or measurements that would be gathered during the investigation.
  • Design Process: Detail three alternative ideas or features the team considered for this project. These should be directly related to the project, not a list of other projects. Explain why each idea or feature was rejected in favor of the ones included in your final design. Describe how the chosen feature improves upon the rejected alternatives.
  • Consequences: Discuss the potential positive and negative consequences of the new technology on society, recognizing that all technologies have both.

3. Bibliography

Compile a list of all the sources and references utilized during the research of the chosen technology. Each source should be clearly labeled and include the title, author, publisher, and copyright date. While footnotes are encouraged, they are not mandatory. Note that the Bibliography does not count towards the 11-page limit for the Description section.

4. Sample Web Pages

Team members must create five sample web pages to communicate and promote their vision for future technology. These pages can be either hand-drawn or computer-generated (e.g., using PowerPoint) and may include text, images, photographs, and diagrams. The content should be relevant to the material in the written description and highlight the features of the chosen technology.

University students sitting next to each other next to a building.

One of the web pages should focus on a model or visual representation of the technology, which could be used to develop a prototype for display. This model should help others visualize the design and understand its features, along with a description of any limitations. There is no need to create an actual website or prototype unless the team becomes a Regional winner.

Exploravision National Science Competition Past Winners

Look at past winners of the Exploravision national competition to get an idea of what projects have been deemed excellent and workable.

2024 Grade Level Placement Project Description
N4NO (Nanocarriers for Neuroprosthetic Optimization) by North Carolina School of Science and Math – Durham, North Carolina Grades 10 – 12 1st Place An innovative noninvasive technique for inserting neural dust through the cerebrospinal fluid using micelles for neuroprosthetic assistance
Mycelial Batteries by The Bronx High School of Science – Bronx, New York Grades 10 – 12 2nd Place Integrating electrically conductive fungi into sodium-ion batteries to enhance their efficiency and lifespan
Pediabots – Next Generation School – Champaign, Illinois Grades 7 – 9 1st Place Utilizing microbotic technologies for pediatric surgical procedures
Enhancing Photosynthesis in Trees for Carbon Reduction using Rubisco Activase by The Nueva School – San Mateo, California Grades 7 – 9 2nd Place The team’s project aims to develop a future technology that will significantly contribute to a sustainable future by creating genetically engineered trees with greatly enhanced photosynthesis capacity.
Plastivore Trashcan by Lester CN – Roseland, New Jersey Grades 4 – 6 1st Place This innovation is a solar-powered “Plastivore Trashcan” featuring five compartments designed to shred, oxidize, and degrade plastic using “Plastic Eating Bacterial Enzyme Tablet” (PEBET). PEBET contains enzymes extracted from the saliva and gut bacteria of various worm and fungi species capable of digesting plastic.
2023 Grade Level Placement Project Description
Martian Mycrops by The Bronx High School of Science – Bronx , New York Grades 10 – 12 1st Place Utilizing Fungal Mycelium to Transport Perchlorate-Reducing Bacteria for Efficient Reduction of Perchlorate Levels in Martian Soil
CiliaBuilder: A Hair Prosthetic for Your Ears by Alabama School of Math & Science – Mobile, Alabama Grades 10 – 12 2nd Place A cilia prosthetic will be attached to the damaged stereocilia by employing targeted protein binding. This prosthetic will extend the length of the damaged cilia, restoring their proper movement potential and enabling the cochlea to send signals to the brain effectively.
Fungi Fabrics by W. I. Dick Middle School – Milton, Ontario Grades 7 – 9 1st Place “Fungi Fabrics” utilizes eco-friendly materials that are safe for the environment. The fabric is created using mycelium, derived from mushroom roots. A substrate to nourish the fungi can be provided, and the mold can be grown into the desired mold, then shaped and fixed as needed.
Isolating and Producing Targeted Bacteriophages for the Eradication of African River Blindness by Connetquot High School – Bohemia, New York Grades 7 – 9 2nd Place PhageFuture represents a cutting-edge bacteriophage treatment at the forefront of modern medical technology. It is designed to combat Onchocerciasis, commonly known as African river blindness, a widespread and debilitating disease.
PetConnect by Open Window School – Bellevue, Washington Grades 4 – 6 1st Place PetConnect is an app that leverages artificial intelligence to interpret and translate the behaviors of cats and dogs. Utilizing deep learning, the AI continuously learns from interactions with each pet, resulting in increasingly accurate translations over time.

Exploravision Awards and Prizes

Joining Exploravision and making it to regional and national competitions is already a distinction by itself.  All participants have the chance to be recognized for their innovative ideas and win prizes.

  • First Prize (4 teams): U.S. EE Savings Bond worth $10,000* at maturity for each student
  • Second Prize (4 teams): U.S. EE Savings Bond worth $5,000* at maturity for each student
  • National Finalists (8 teams): A trip to Washington, DC, in June for the ExploraVision Awards Weekend for each national winning student and one parent or legal guardian
  • Regional Winners (24 teams): A Chromebook for each student and an awards ceremony at their school, where the team will receive a winner’s banner, plaque, and other gifts
  • Honorable Mention (~500 teams): A unique prize and certificate for each student
  • All Participants: A certificate of participation and a gift for every student whose team submits a complete project

FAQs

1. Is the Exploravision prestigious?

Yes, ExploraVision is a prestigious competition widely respected in educational and scientific circles. It is sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

Group of people huddled together.

Participating in and winning ExploraVision can significantly enhance college applications for upcoming college students. It demonstrates a strong commitment to STEM fields and the ability to engage in complex, forward-thinking projects. The competition’s strict standards and the recognition from winning prestigious awards can help you stand out in the competitive college admissions process.

2. Are there any costs involved if I want to participate?

No, there is no entry fee for the program. Participation is completely free.

3. I am homeschooled. Can I still participate by teaming up with students from other schools?

Yes, students can form teams with members from different schools and even different states.

4. What is Toshiba’s motivation for sponsoring ExploraVision?

Toshiba, known for its technological innovation, is also dedicated to science education. Partnering with the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), Toshiba sponsors the ExploraVision competition to support the educational community. This competition helps participants deepen their understanding of core scientific concepts and engage in the scientific and engineering practices from the Next Generation Science Standards. By tackling real-world problems, students gain valuable experience. ExploraVision, one of the world’s largest K-12 science competitions, is a key part of Toshiba’s effort to inspire youth in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

5. What is NSTA and what do they do?

The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) promotes excellence and innovation in science education. It supports educators with high-quality resources, professional development opportunities, and a space for sharing best practices.

NSTA organizes conferences, publishes journals and books, and offers programs and awards to recognize outstanding contributions to science education. Its mission is to enhance science teaching and learning for all, fostering a scientifically literate society.

6. What resources should I review if I want to excel in Exploravision? 

Practice and preparation are the surefire ways to stand out in this prestigious competition. There are countless resources available online for you to take a look at. Here are 10 resources that can help you excel in ExploraVision:

Books

  • The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen: This book explores the skills needed to develop innovative ideas.
  • The Science Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained” by DK: A comprehensive overview of key scientific concepts and discoveries.

Online Programs

  • Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org): Offers free courses in various scientific fields to help build foundational knowledge.
  • Coursera (www.coursera.org): Provides courses on innovation, technology, and science from top universities.

YouTube Channels

  • SciShow: Covers a wide range of scientific topics and current research.
  • Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell: Explains complex scientific concepts in an easy-to-understand and visually engaging way.
  • Veritasium: Features videos on intriguing science and engineering topics.

Websites

  • ExploraVision Official Website (www.exploravision.org): Provides comprehensive details about the competition, including guidelines, sample projects, and FAQs.
  • National Science Teaching Association (www.nsta.org): Offers resources for science teachers and students, including lesson plans, webinars, and professional development.

Online Tools

  • Google Scholar (scholar.google.com): A great resource for finding scientific papers and research articles to support your project.
  • Tinkercad (www.tinkercad.com): A free, easy-to-use app for 3D design, electronics, and coding that can help visualize your project ideas.

How can I maximize my experience in Exploravision and win?

Maximizing your success in ExploraVision involves strategic planning, teamwork, and dedication. It is important to note that you will be competing against the country’s most brilliant students. Here are some tips and traits to help you stand out:

A demonstration of a Rubik's Cube solving machine during a science fair

  • Understand the guidelines: Read and understand the competition rules and guidelines thoroughly. Ensure your project meets all requirements and follows the specified format.
  • Choose a relevant and innovative topic: Select a technology with potential for significant improvement or innovation. Consider current trends and future needs. Aim for originality and relevance.
  • Form a strong team: Assemble a diverse team. Each member should bring a unique perspective, whether it’s scientific knowledge, artistic ability, or research skills. Good communication and collaboration are key.
  • Conduct thorough research: Dive deep into the existing technology, its history, and current limitations. Use reliable sources like scientific journals, books, and reputable websites. Document all sources meticulously.
  • Develop a clear vision for future technology: Create a detailed and imaginative vision of how the technology could evolve over the next decade or more. Include scientific principles that could drive this development.
  • Focus on breakthroughs and feasibility: Identify key breakthroughs needed to realize your vision. Explain why these advancements are necessary and how they can be achieved. Support your ideas with data and research to demonstrate feasibility.
  • Create compelling sample web pages: Design visually appealing and informative sample web pages. Clearly communicate your project’s concept and future vision using concise text and engaging visuals.
  • Practice effective communication: Develop your presentation and communication skills. Be prepared to explain your project clearly and confidently. Practice answering potential questions from judges.
  • Seek feedback and revise: Share your project with teachers, mentors, and peers for feedback. Be open to constructive criticism and willing to make necessary revisions.
  • Stay organized and meet deadlines: Track important deadlines and ensure all materials are submitted on time. Use checklists and project management tools to stay organized.

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