OurEcho Challenge - FAQs

OurEcho Challenge submission entries open February 17, 2021.
All entries must be submitted by April 22, 2021, 11:59 PM Eastern.
10 finalist teams will be chosen and notified by May 7, 2021.
The OurEcho Challenge final event will take place virtually, June 11, 2021.

What is the OurEcho Challenge?

The OurEcho Challenge is a STEM competition that empowers U.S. middle school students (grades 5 - 9) to take a closer look at biodiversity in their communities. Students will first identify threats to local ecosystems and then propose solutions to help preserve, protect, or repair those natural resources.

Does this cost anything?

There is no cost to submit an entry into the OurEcho Challenge.

Am I required to use the resources in order to enter the OurEcho Challenge?

While we believe the supplemental resources to be helpful, they are not required to submit an entry to the OurEcho Challenge. The supplemental resources are free for anyone to use. Using these resources does not in any way bind you to submitting an entry into the OurEcho Challenge.

Who can enter the OurEcho Challenge?

Middle school students, grades 5 - 9 (ages 10 - 15), are welcome to enter the OurEcho Challenge. Students may enter in teams of 1-3 and must have an adult mentor, such as a teacher, submit the team entry online.

Given the age of students, an adult (21+) MUST submit each entry online on behalf of the teams they are mentoring. Mentors can be traditional educators, parents, and/or adult facilitators of more informal learning environments.

Any former member of an OurEcho Challenge Finalist Team must not re-use their prior OurEcho Challenge finalist entry materials to enter the OurEcho Challenge.

Can I enter the OurEcho Challenge if I live outside the United States?

The Contest is offered only within the 50 United States and the District of Columbia.

If a team entered the OurEcho Challenge in previous years, can they enter again?

Yes, but any former member of an OurEcho Challenge Finalist Team must not re-use their prior OurEcho Challenge finalist entry materials to enter the current OurEcho Challenge.

How many entries can a mentor submit?

There is no limit on the number of teams an educator/mentor can supervise. A mentor must be 21 years of age or older, a legal resident of the eligibility area, and an educator who provides direct instruction to students in a formal or informal setting at a public/private/home school, an afterschool club, a community program, a nonprofit organization, or other learning environment.

How many entries can a student submit?

Given the age of students, an adult (21+) MUST submit each entry online on behalf of the teams they are mentoring. Limit three (3) entries for which a particular student is one of the team members. Entries received in excess of this limit will be void. Students must be a legal resident of the eligibility area and attend school in Grade 5 - 9 (ages 10- 15) during the entry period.

Any former member of an OurEcho Challenge Finalist Team must not re-use their prior OurEcho Challenge finalist entry materials to enter the OurEcho Challenge.

How many students can be on a team?

Students in teams of 1-3 may enter the OurEcho Challenge. All teams, including individual students, must be led by a teacher or adult mentor. Due to the age of the students eligible for the OurEcho Challenge, all entries must be completed by the lead teacher or adult mentor.

When will the 2021 OurEcho Challenge take place?

The OurEcho Challenge will be open for submission February 17 - April 22, 2021. The finalist teams will be selected and notified by May 7, 2021. The 10 finalist teams will have from May 7 - June 4, 2021 to draft a final presentation. Finalist teams will meet virtually with an expert panel of judges on June 10, 2021 for a question and answer session. All team members and mentors must be available to virtually join the Final Event on June 11, 2021, where the winners will be announced to a LIVE virtual audience by EarthEcho founder, Philippe Cousteau.

Our team submitted an OurEcho Challenge entry – what happens next?

The OurEcho Challenge will be open for submission February 17 - April 22, 2021. The finalist teams will be selected and notified by May 7, 2021. The 10 finalist teams will have from May 7 - June 4, 2021 to draft a final presentation that may include a prototype of their proposed solution.

The 10 finalist teams will have from May 7 - June 4, 2021 to draft a final presentation that may include a prototype of their proposed solution. The presentation will also include a budget and timeline for completion. Samples and templates to assist in creating the final presentation, budget, and timeline will be provided for all finalist teams once they are announced.

Each team must create and submit a recording of their final presentation, including any supplemental materials, no later than June 4, 2021. Finalist teams will meet virtually with an expert panel of judges on June 10, 2021 for a question and answer session about their entry based on your recorded presentation.

All team members and mentors must be available to virtually join the Final Event on June 11, 2021, where the winners will be announced to a LIVE virtual audience by EarthEcho founder, Philippe Cousteau.

When do I find out if my team is a finalist?

Ten (10) finalist teams will be chosen and notified by May 7, 2021.

How many finalists will be selected?

Ten (10) finalist teams will be selected and invited to compete for the $5,000 grand prize.

Who are the OurEcho Challenge judges?

The panel of judges may be comprised of EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council members, Aramco Services Company scientists, EarthEcho International employees, Board members, or partners, and middle school science educators. The panel of judges will carefully review all entries using the OurEcho Challenge scoring rubric.

What happens if I am a finalist?

If your entry is selected and your team is chosen as one of the top 10 finalist teams, you will be expected to develop a presentation and do some preliminary work on your proposed project for a final virtual judging. Your team will have from May 7 - June 4, 2021 to draft a final presentation that may include a prototype of your proposed solution. Your presentation will also include a budget and timeline for completion. Samples and templates to assist in creating the final presentation, budget, and timeline will be provided for all finalist teams once they are announced.

Your team must create and submit a recording of your final presentation, including any supplemental materials, no later than June 4, 2021. Finalist teams will meet virtually with an expert panel of judges on June 10, 2021 for a question and answer session about their entry based on your recorded presentation.

All team members and mentors must be available to virtually join the Final Event on June 11, 2021, where the winners will be announced to a LIVE virtual audience by EarthEcho founder, Philippe Cousteau. The top three teams will receive:

First Prize: $5,000.00
Second Prize: $2,000.00
Third Prize: $1,000.00.

Each grant check will be made payable to the school/organization associated with the winning entries, which the school/organization must make available for the team to use to support the biodiversity initiative described in their winning entry.

The top three (3) winning teams will be required to submit a budget, plan, and timeline for their use of the project grant funds, which will be subject to review and approval. Each winning team will also have to submit status updates to EarthEcho on their progress, as well as a brief final report on the progress and learnings achieved through use of the project grant funds.

What is the final event?

The OurEcho Challenge Final Event will take place virtually via Zoom and will be live streamed to EarthEcho’s social media channels. All finalist team members and mentors will virtually join the Final Event on June 11, 2021, where the winners will be announced to a LIVE virtual audience by EarthEcho founder, Philippe Cousteau.

What are other ways I can connect with EarthEcho International?

Be sure to connect with us via social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn the latest about our work and opportunities for young conservation leaders. You may also sign up for EarthEcho's newsletter to stay up to date on our latest programming.  

Still have questions? Please direct additional questions to ourechochallenge@earthecho.org or 202-350-3190.

Please note that EarthEcho International reserves the right in its sole discretion to further modify the timing of the OurEcho Challenge and/or the format/timing of the Finalist Event. If such changes are deemed prudent, the new timing and/or format will be noted in the Official Rules and on this website.