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Christopher Columbus Awards

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The Christopher Columbus Awards program is a national community-based STEM competition that taps the natural curiosity and creativity of kids to better their communities. The program is designed for sixth through eighth grade students, and they must work in teams of three or four with an adult coach. The team must identify a problem in its community, and devise a solution that requires the team to obtain hands-on experience with the scientific process-exploring, analyzing and drawing conclusions-and learn how to apply it to everyday life.


There are three judging levels--Regional, Finalist and National:

  1. The Regional Judging is conducted by a national panel of educators, scientists, engineers and community leaders. The top three entries from each of the 10 regions will be selected as semi-finalists.

  2. The Finalist Judging is conducted by a panel of seven judges who review all 30 entries. Each judge gets one vote, and the semifinalist teams that get the most votes will become finalist teams, and will participate in the national finals competition in Florida.

    The finalist teams receive an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World ® in Orlando, Florida, to compete in the final judging, and also to attend the Christopher Columbus Academy. The Academy is an educational opportunity that gives the finalists firsthand experience with discovery and innovation, while being guided by experts in science, technology and education.

  3. The National Finals Judging will take place at Walt Disney World, and the winning teams will be announced.

The deadline for submissions is February 7, 2013.

Christopher Columbus Academy

During the week, the finalist teams attend the Christopher Columbus Academy, which is a unique program designed to challenge its participants minds, uncover hidden talents, and introduce the teams to some of the most exciting and innovative people in the world. Through the Academy, the teams discover new techniques for youth team building and community action, get a behind-the-scenes look at Disney attractions, and learn from Disney's own Imagineers about the challenges and triumphs of Ride and Design at Walt Disney World.

Finalist Teams

At an awards ceremony held at Walt Disney World, two gold medal winning teams will each receive monetary awards each and a plaque for each team member along with a plaque for their school. The competition is geared toward middle school-age children, and gives kids experience in solving real-life problems using the scientific process of exploring, analyzing and drawing conclusions.

Columbus Foundation Community Grant

The $25,000 Columbus Foundation Community Grant is an additional opportunity for one finalist team to take its project to a higher level. In conjunction with a community partner, the student team uses the grant money to make part or all of its ideas a reality in the community over the course of the year following the competition. The grant is dedicated to encouraging young explorers to grow as individuals and to gain a sense of accomplishment.

The grant project is designed to provide a unique opportunity for young people to see hope where there is a problem, and develop confidence in their abilities to change an unacceptable situation. Adult community leaders play an important role by administering the grant money and providing the team with guidance. The grant brings young people and adults together to create a brighter future for all of us.