Amazing Opportunity – The Paradigm Challenge

Things have been so busy with conferences coming up (and kids, and work, and life), I haven’t had much time to blog. But this opportunity was too good not to share!

Finding this was pure luck (or fate). I was streaming my twitter feed (when I should have probably been doing something else), when I found this post:

Some of you are aware, but this is my first year not in the classroom. While I absolutely LOVE my job, there are days when I miss my kiddos so much. The day I first learned about this challenge was DEFINITELY one of those days. 

This would be such an amazing opportunity for them to let their genius shine. 


We’ll get to the grand prize in a minute, but 100 other teams will also be winners. With cash prizes ranging from $200 to $100,000 (yes, ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND), I know my kids would be interested.

So…what’s the grand prize?

Well, in addition to the ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS, your entire team will receive a 4-day/3-night trip to Los Angeles to attend the prize ceremony. You’ll also get escorted to the limo in a fabulous dress/tuxedo in a LIMO. You’ll also receive some spending cash and tickets to cool stuff to do while you’re in town. (Remember guys, that’s where Disney Land and Universal Studios is!)


And what is that $100,000 for exactly? Well – it’s up to you and your team. Want to invest it? Want to donate it? Want to set it aside for college? Want to launch your own business? Go for it. Chase those dreams and don’t stop chasing.

And how could I forget! TEACHERS ARE ALSO ELIGIBLE FOR CASH PRIZES. Support the winning team and you could snag yourself a $5,000 educator grant?


But really, the biggest prize is so much more than trips and money. It’s inspiring others to try and make the world a better place. It’s inspiring kids to try and fail and try again. It’s helping kids find their passions. Of course that’s the real grand prize. And everyone can win that one.

So what is the challenge?

The Paradigm Challenge is an annual competition that inspires youth to use STEM skills plus kindness, creativity, and collaboration to make a difference.  The 2016-17 Challenge aims to generate new ideas to reduce waste in homes, schools, communities, and around the world. 

Here is a great video overview for you and to show your students!

I love the theme of this challenge. It’s not just about making something. It’s about making something that has an impact. That solves a problem. That helps someone (or lots of people). As a librarian, I love that it requires students to do research. And think about the rich discussion surrounding intellectual property and copyright. Wow. (is my librarian showing?)

Students need to find a problem (and not just any old problem, but one they’re passionate about). Get them fired up!

Once they find a problem, they need to research what is causing the problem, what (if any) solutions are out there, AND if there are any solutions already out there, WHY is the problem not solved?

As a maker, I love the idea of working through the entire design process AND working collaboratively to solve a problem. This project requires both!

If you’re not already familiar with the Launch Cycle (as featured in the book Launch by John Spencer and AJ Juliani), now is the time to familiarize yourself.

Click on the image above to download this and many other posters

Who can participate?

The challenge is open to anyone ages 4-18 (by May 1, 2017). You must have parent permission to participate. There are three divisions for cash prizes (4-8, 9-13, and 14-18)

There is no minimum or maximum team size.  

How do my students enter the challenge?

Once your students create an account, they’ll get access to a dashboard. In their dashboard, they’ll see the 10 steps they need to complete the challenge. 

As you can see, I only have 20% of the challenge completed because I’ve only done one task (choose my avatar). 

As I mentioned before, I love how the Paradigm Challenge incorporates so much research. Some of the activities require kids to read about the current state of the environment, and others require kids to learn about methods to reduce waste (composting, solar energy, and others). 

Once you get to the part where you’re “creating”, keep the following judging criteria in mind.

a. Efficacy : How effective is the idea?

b. Feasibility: How possible is the idea?

c. Originality: How innovative is the idea?

d. Presentation: How clear is the idea?

e. Collaboration: How well did the team members work together with each other and with other persons.


Support for Teachers!

Don’t worry teachers -The Paradigm Project doesn’t want you going at this alone. They’ve created an entire portal just for educators.  Complete with lesson plans, inspirational videos, flyers, letters for parents, posters, and so much more. 

And if you have a question, just reach out. They are support responsive and will help you and your students in any and every way possible.

Michelle Lewis is the Outreach Coordinator and you can contact her directly at michelle at 

So what are you waiting for? Deadline is May 1st!

click above to get started!

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