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2021 Go Carbon Neutral!
A Transportation Challenge


Supported by General Motors

In partnership with The Museum of Life + Science, Lawrence Hall of Science, and Greentown Labs


New England, North Carolina, and San Francisco Bay Area college students — are you up for an exciting undergraduate STEM challenge? Create a winning solution for reducing carbon emissions in your region and you could win a cash prize.



Apply Now

+ - Background

To achieve a carbon neutral future, it’s critical that governments, industries, and individuals consider the impact of transportation on our overall carbon footprint. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for roughly 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In response, communities and organizations have begun to consider specific and measurable steps that can be taken to meet the goal of carbon neutrality. The Museum of Science, Boston firmly believes that, as with all ambitious goals, we will only achieve success if our communities broaden their perspectives and include diverse and fresh voices from future STEM professionals.

To that end, the Museum is proud to partner with General Motors, who share our commitment to promoting and fostering tomorrow’s STEM leaders, as well as institutions across the United States to connect with ambitious STEM students — all undergraduate students currently enrolled at accredited New England, North Carolina, or Bay Area colleges are invited to participate.

Applicants will choose a transportation challenge and propose a strategy and/or solution, and finalists will present their ideas in a video presentation hosted on the Museum of Science, Boston’s webpage. Winners will receive cash prizes, and opportunities to promote their work within the STEM community!

BOSTON

In 2017, Mayor Martin J. Walsh set forth the goal for the City of Boston to be carbon neutral by 2050. The Green Ribbon Commission recently released a report that identifies specific and measurable steps the City of Boston must take to meet this goal.

According to the recently released Carbon Free Boston: Summary Report 2019, Boston’s transportation sector accounts for 29% of the city’s emissions. Challenge participants will be tasked with creating a strategy to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by Boston’s transportation systems. Transportation categories may include but are not limited to energy, fuel, infrastructure, alternative vehicles, or modes of transportation.

NORTH CAROLINA

In 2018, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 80, committing the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2025. In response, RTI International released a study that identifies specific and measurable steps the state must take to its transportation sector in order to meet this goal.

According to the recently released North Carolina Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, the transportation sector accounts for roughly one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in North Carolina. Challenge participants will be tasked with creating a strategy to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by the Tar Heel State’s transportation systems. Transportation categories may include but are not limited to energy, fuel, infrastructure, alternative vehicles, or modes of transportation.

SAN FRANCISCO

In 2019, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously declared a climate emergency. In response, the City and County of San Francisco is in the process of updating its Climate Action Plan, focused on achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The 2021 Plan will expand on the ambitious goals of its predecessor by creating the 0-80-100-Roots framework. This guides action to reach zero waste, 80% sustainable trips, 100% renewable energy, and green infrastructure projects.

The recently released San Francisco Transportation Sector Climate Action Strategy has set a goal of increasing transit ridership by expanding safe, reliable, accessible, equitable, rapid, and environmentally sustainable transit service by 2025. Currently the transportation sector contributes roughly 46% of San Francisco’s overall emissions. Challenge participants will be tasked with creating a strategy to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by San Francisco’s transportation systems. Transportation categories may include but are not limited to energy, fuel, infrastructure, alternative vehicles, or modes of transportation.

+ - Registration and Project Development

Students interested in competing can register January 15 – March 5, 2021. Individuals or teams registered by the deadline will be prompted to complete a project proposal by March 5, 2021. Project proposals will be reviewed upon receipt and semi-finalists will be notified by March 8, 2021 (maximum 45). Information gathered during the application process will be private and confidential and used only for semi-finalist selection purposes and not shared beyond the Museum of Science Go Carbon Neutral! Challenge review committee.

Semi-finalist teams should be expected to produce a single-page infographic explaining your proposed strategy for a transportation challenge. Infographics must be completed by March 26, 2021. Semi-finalists will meet with a judging panel selected by Museum representatives between March 29 and March 30, 2021. Finalist teams from each institution will be selected and informed of their elections by March 31, 2021.

Finalist teams should be expected to produce a three-minute visual presentation of their proposal for display on the Museum of Science, Boston website for public view. Projects must be completed by April 16, 2021. Finalist teams will meet with a judging panel selected by Museum representatives between April 19 and April 21, 2021. Grand prize winners will be informed during a virtual awards ceremony on April 22, 2021.

Competing teams should be comprised of one to four people. Schools may be represented by more than one team, and students on a given team may represent different schools. We strongly encourage students’ teams to have diverse STEM majors and perspectives.

Each team will require 1 student team leader.

+ - Mentorship During Project Development

The museums partnering for this year’s Go Carbon Neutral! Challenge are excited to connect participants with a range of networking and mentorship opportunities through our variety of local government, transportation, and corporate partners. Semi-finalists will be invited to share their projects and work directly with partnering mentors to better develop and promote their proposals. Finalists will be paired directly with a mentor working within their field of interest.

The Museum of Science, Boston will host virtual networking and mentor sessions throughout this year’s challenge.

+ - Project Proposal Infographic and Video Presentation

Each Go Carbon Neutral! semi-finalist team must design a single-page infographic about their selected carbon neutral challenge and the impact of your proposed strategy and/or solution. A PDF must be submitted on or before March 26, 2021. The infographic produced will be used to inform judges prior to individual judging panels, wherein competitors will have the opportunity to clarify project specifics and address project strengths and weaknesses. Competitors will be scored by their judges in order to determine teams that advance as finalists.

Each Go Carbon Neutral! finalist team must design a (maximum) three-minute audio/visual presentation of their selected carbon neutral challenge and the impact of your proposed strategy and/or solution. Video presentations must be submitted on or before April 16, 2021. The video presentation will be posted on the Museum of Science, Boston website for a public vote. A second judging panel will score finalist projects based on strengths and weaknesses, and how well they have adapted their proposal since the semi-finals.

+ - Important Dates

  • Friday, March 5: Deadline to register and submit project proposal
  • Monday, March 8: Semi-finalists informed of elections
  • Friday, March 26: Semi-finalist proposals due
  • Wednesday, March 31: Finalists informed of elections
  • Friday, April 16: Finalist video presentations due
  • April 19 – 21: Public votes on finalist presentations
  • Thursday, April 22: Awards ceremony

+ - Judging Criteria and Process

Semi-finalist proposals will be judged on the following::

  • Name of team members and school affiliations
  • Transportation system challenge addressed
  • Abstract and proposed strategy
  • Technologies required for strategy — those that exist, those that still need improvement, and those still to be developed
  • Efficiency/sustainability of strategy
  • Data or physical model of strategy and/or solution (as appropriate and if resources allow)
  • Benefits and challenges of implementation
  • Accessibility for user group
  • References cited

Final presentations will be judged on the previous criteria, as well as on the following:

  • All of the previous judging criteria
  • Creativity of presentation
  • Overall understanding of transportation sector and impacts of their proposal
  • How well the team adjusted their proposal to feedback given during the semi-finals

All finalist teams are required to present a (.mov) file of their video for a public audience on April 16, 2021. The announcement of grand prize winners and an awards ceremony will follow on April 22, 2021.


Process

All competition materials will be checked for eligibility and rules compliance by the Museum of Science Go Carbon Neutral! Challenge staff.


Applications

In consultation with outside experts, the Museum of Science Go Carbon Neutral! Challenge staff will select up to 45 semi-finalist teams based on completed applications. A maximum of 15 finalists will be chosen from completed semi-finalist submissions.


Semi-Finals

In consultation with a panel of judges, the Museum Go Carbon Neutral! Challenge staff will review electronically submitted infographic PDFs (due March 26, 2021). The distinguished judging panel for the competition will include science researchers, science communication professionals, community members, and industry experts. A maximum of 15 finalists will be selected to compete for the grand prize.

Finals

In consultation with a panel of judges, the Museum Go Carbon Neutral! Challenge staff will review electronically submitted infographic and video materials (due April 16, 2021) and tabulate the public vote in order to select one (1) grand prize winner, one (1) runner up, one (1) second runner up, and one (1) “People’s Choice” award winner. The distinguished judging panel for the competition will include science researchers, science communication professionals, community members, and industry experts.

Winners for each of the grand prizes will be announced during a virtual awards ceremony on April 22, 2021.

+ - Prizes

All semi-finalists receive:

  • Acknowledgement of participation through Museum of Science social media
  • Monetary gift card ($100)

All finalists receive:

  • Monetary gift card ($250)

Grand prize winners receive:

  • A cash prize (split equally among team members)
    • $3000 grand prize
    • $2000 runner-up
    • $1000 second runner-up
    • $100/team member “People’s Choice” Award

+ - Complete Rules and Eligibility

Eligibility Requirements

Each team member must be:

  • Currently enrolled (full-time or part-time) as an undergraduate student for the spring 2021 semester at an accredited college or university.
  • 18 years or older.

Ineligible: employees of the Museum of Science, Boston; minors (younger than 18).

Rules

  • To enter, you must complete a Go Carbon Neutral! Challenge registration by 11:59 p.m. EST on March 5, 2021.
  • Semi-finalists must create a single-page project proposal including team name, team members name, abstract, proposed strategy, and team school affiliations. Semi-finalists must submit completed proposals by March 26, 2021
  • Finalists may — but are not required to — use slides, props, and/or demos.
  • All material must be original or used with permission, with rights cleared for worldwide internet posting and/or with appropriate acknowledgment and credit.
  • All material must be suitable for family audiences.
  • Finalists will allow the Museum of Science and its Go Carbon Neutral! institutional partners to make use of their videos, proposals, and associated materials for educational purposes, with appropriate credit
  • Prizes will be split evenly between team members; each team member will be paid separately.
  • Semi-finalists will sign a photo/video release.
  • The Museum will reimburse semi-finalists for up to $250 in documented expenses for materials used in their presentations and travel expenses. Reimbursement may take up to 30 business days.
  • Reasonable accommodations will be made for semi-finalists with disabilities. Deaf and hard-of-hearing entrants may request an ASL interpreter; please request at least two weeks in advance.
  • The Museum cannot be responsible for loss or damage to materials or equipment.
  • Semi-finalists living and working in the US on certain types of visas may be subject to restrictions regarding the cash portion of the prizes.
  • The Museum of Science reserves the right to modify or cancel the competition at any time for any reason, including but not limited to an insufficient number of qualified entries received.
  • The Museum of Science has the final say on any point not clearly outlined in the entry rules.