Guidelines For Choosing and Evaluating a Project

When choosing a project for the Challenge, one of the most important considerations is that it be something that can be done in the short time of the program. Projects are judged on overall quality and the progress made by the team during the competition year. It is important to submit a project that is complete.

When examining projects, the judges consider the scientific content; the effectiveness of the computational approach; the creativity, innovation, and initiative shown in developing and carrying out the project; and the clarity of the presentation of the work. The following list of questions can be used as a guide when considering potential projects.

Scientific Content

When describing the scientific content of the proposed research, carefully consider the following:

  • Is the scientific content of significance?
  • Do you have a procedural plan for obtaining a solution?
  • Do you clearly recognize and define the variables?
  • If controls are necessary, do you recognize their need and use them correctly?
  • Do you have adequate data to support your conclusions?
  • Do you recognize the limitations of the data?
  • Have you shown how the project ties in with related research?
  • Do you have an idea of what further research is indicated?

Effectiveness of the Computational Approach

Will your project be seen as effective in the following ways:

  • Is your computational approach appropriate to the project?
  • Is the solution:

Workable? – Unworkable solutions may be interesting but are of no value from a practical point of view.

Economically Feasible? – Supercomputers make computational tasks feasible that once were not so. Have you evaluated this aspect of your project?

  • Have you tested your software to see how it will perform under the conditions of use?
  • Does your solution carry out its purpose to completion within the scope of the original design?
  • How completely has the problem you defined in the project been covered by your software solution?


Does the project show creativity and originality in:

  • The question asked? Did you develop the idea for the project as a result of reading or work that you have done, or was the idea a textbook suggestion for research? An original idea would be considered more creative.
  • The computational approach to solving the problem? Did you devise a new solution to the problem? Did you use a known solution in a new creative way?
  • The analysis and interpretation of the data? What insights or intuitions have you contributed based on the data?

In the programming of the software, you should clearly distinguish between cleverness and a genuine contribution. An ingenious approach may not be the most efficient way to solve a problem if it is not acceptable to potential users, or if it is unreliable in the way it functions.


  • Do you state the problem clearly and unambiguously?
  • How clearly do you document or discuss the project? Can you explain its purpose, procedure, and conclusions in a clear and concise manner?
  • Have you expressed your project well in the written material?
  • Do you present the important phases of the project in an orderly manner?
  • How clearly do you present the data?
  • How clearly do you present the results?
  • How well do you document the software? Is the source code adequately commented?
  • Do you present the material in a forthright manner, without tricks or gimmicks?
  • Did you do all work on the final presentation, or did you receive assistance from others? Has any assistance from others been duly acknowledged?