Student teams must participate in either the fourth-to-fifth-grade division or the sixth-to-eighth-grade division. Teams can be comprised of students in one grade or a mix of grades within the division.
Any U.S. public school, private school, homeschool, community group, or informal education organization with students in grades four through eight may participate in the GeoChallenge.
A school/organization may have multiple teams and multiple coaches, but only one project may be submitted per team.
Teams from schools located in the U.S. territories or Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools abroad can participate and submit projects for appraisal.
Adult involvement in GeoChallenge must be minimal. GeoChallenge Coordinators, GeoChallenge Coaches, parents, and adult volunteers cannot actively participate in the research, design, testing, or building of any parts of the project.
Adult roles include organizing the team, providing meeting places, ensuring safety, and giving encouragement. Adults may instruct students on how to use tools—including mechanical tools, hardware, or software—needed to create the project, but they may not actively work on the project, contribute ideas, or provide solutions. Adults make sure rules are followed and remind students of the Explorer's Code, requirements, and deadlines. Projects exhibiting over-involvement of adults as determined by National Geographic Society will be disqualified and those students will be unable to participate further.
Current employees of National Geographic Society or National Geographic Partners, LLC, may not participate in the GeoChallenge as a coach or a coordinator. If you are a grantee, explorer, or an education fellow currently receiving direct funding* from National Geographic Society, you are not eligible to participate as a coach or coordinator in the GeoChallenge for the term of your current funding plus the following school year. For clarity, this funding exclusion does not pertain to: Grosvenor Teacher Fellows, Geo-Inquiry Ambassadors, Certification Mentors, the Teacher Advisory Council (TAC), and Community Leaders.
*Funding means in excess of $3,000 in one single contract.
Students are allowed to participate in the GeoChallenge for multiple years as long as they meet all eligibility requirements for the current competition year. Returning students are allowed to continue working on their topic and project from the 2018-19 competition, and are encouraged to improve on and expand it based on what they learned last year. Alternatively, returning students can select a new topic for their solution work.
Because members of the teams that placed first, second, or third at the 2019 GeoChallenge national final competition are working to scale their award-winning solutions during the 2019-2020 cycle, they are not eligible to compete in the 2019-2020 GeoChallenge.
In creating their solution and project materials, students are encouraged to use available school/organization materials and supplies or materials from home. Using repurposed or recycled materials is also encouraged. GeoChallenge project materials and videos should be created in a way that they do not require expensive purchases. Spending large amounts of money on a GeoChallenge project will not increase a team’s odds of advancing in the competition.
Appraisal of the projects will focus on design, innovation, and creativity, not on the value of the materials or equipment used to create the project. Basic video equipment, including mobile devices, may be used for the video submission. Appraisal of the videos will focus on creativity and storytelling and not on the image quality or sophistication of recording or editing equipment used.