The Robogals Science Challenge is a nationwide science competition for girls, enabling them to learn a bit more about science and engineering. By conducting projects or experiments with a friend, parent or another mentor, girls are encouraged to pursue a interest in the versatile discipline. Entries to the competition are submitted online in the form of videos, photos and writing, in three age categories. The competition spans across five months, culminating in an awards ceremony where the top 12 groups or individuals will be invited, and the winners announced.
The Challenge consists of two parts: the Minor Challenges and the Major Challenge. The Minor Challenges make up the initial part of the contest, where participants can begin to learn about different science and engineering disciplines, as well as having the option of participating in mini experiments. Participants are encouraged to partake in as many Minor Challenges as possible to help build up their skills for the final challenge. The Major Challenge is when participants can create their own experiment and produce a video to exhibit their findings. Both parts of the challenge are submitted through this website.
Girls between ages 5 to 15 can enter the competition, individually or as a team of 2, accompanied by a parent-mentor who is above 18 years of age. Only entrants from Australia will be eligible for prizes.
The top three groups in each category, plus the "crowd favourite" as voted online, will be invited to a Science and Engineering Weekend Tour in Melbourne on the 29th - 30th November! Finalists will be provided with flights to Melbourne, and accommodation courtesy of our sponsors. The weekend includes an award ceremony plus visits to science-related attractions and more!
All participants will receive a certificate of participation. All finalists receive a trophy, and a science prize pack containing a science kit or other fun science gizmos!
10 April The competition is launched and the first set of Minor Challenges are released
24 April The second set of Minor Challenge projects are released
08 May The third set of Minor Challenge projects are released
22 May The fourth set of Minor Challenge projects are released
05 June Video submissions for Major Challenge open
28 July Final entry deadline, registration closes
31 July Voting for the “Crowd Favourite” commences
13 August Voting closes and competition closes
Oct-Nov Finalists are announced and awarded for their efforts
Every month we will release twelve projects for you to chose from; linking to three different disciplines of Engineering and one area of science. Over the month you are encouraged to investigate the project experiment and post what you have learnt on the website.
The projects are divided into three levels of difficulty, ranging from basic to advanced, and can be attempted by any participant regardless of their age category. The Minor Challenges are an optional part of the competition, though we highly encourage you to complete at least one in order to build up your skills and learn something new.
The Major Challenge is the highlight of the compeition and is the component which participants will submit for judging. In this section participants use their creativity and knowledge of science and engineering to create and conduct an experiment or project of their choice. The project may build on from a previous experiment you have enjoyed from the Minor Challenges, or can spark from a new idea that interests you.
In addition to conducting the experiment, participants must create a video to show what they have done in their project and the results they conclude. This video will be submitted online to be voted on by peers as well as our panel of judges.
For the Major Challenge, the competition is divided into three age groups and entries are judged according to that level:
Primary - Prep to Grade 3
Intermediate - Grade 4 to Grade 6
Senior - Year 7 to Year 9
The Robogals Science Challenge has no specific theme for the Major Challenge; we've left it open-ended for you to choose any science experiment that's fun and exciting. You may like to build on one of your Minor Challenges, or choose the engineering/science area you liked best within the Challenges and construct a new experiment. Still not sure where to start? Look at the previous years' entries, or see project ideas for further clarification of what is regarded as a science project, as well as some pointers to get you started.
Throughout the competition please ensure you are conducting your experiments safely. This doesn’t stop you from doing more risk-involved experiments; you just have to ensure you do them in a safe manner and use the required safety equipment.
You and Your Mentor’s Safety
If you’re doing an experiment or demonstration, you should write up a brief risk assessment or make a list of the safety equipment required before beginning your experiment. Your list may include the use of safety glasses, a labcoat or even gloves such as when using liquids like strong acids. You should also note where it is safest to undertake your experiment (e.g. inside or outside) and how to eliminate risk and injury when steps in your experiment involve an element of risk. If a task is too dangerous for you to do at your age, you may like to ask for the assistance of your mentor. It is crucial as a participant that you look after you mentor, and ensure they wear safety equipment when needed; the same as you.
Another thing to consider is how safe your video is to watch. The way you demonstate your experiment to the audience should ensure that viewers can repeat your experiment in the same safe manner. You may want to include a note of how to do this in your video, such as telling the audience when you are putting on your safety glasses.
As a mentor, it is your responsibility to ensure the experiment you do with your mentee is done safely. Before beginning, you should discuss areas of risk related to the experiment and ensure you have all the safety equipment required. A video that shows unsafe practises should never be uploaded to the website. In the case a video is not appropriate, you will be sent an email to resubmit your entry.
For the Major Challenge you will submit a video as your entry. Each video is to be submitted online and will star a mentor and up to two mentees, talking about and demonstrating their project. In the maximum four minute long video, the young girl(s) should do at least 75% of the talking. The mentor's role is primarily to encourage their mentee to participate and to help with dangerous tasks (use of the stove, for example).
The girl(s) should address the following questions in the video:
- What have you learnt from this project?
- Why have you have participated in the Robogals Science Challenge?
- OR -
Why should other girls also participate in this competition?
* Question 2 is to ensure that the video has been made specifically for this competition, and not used from elsewhere.
The online questionnaire will ask the following questions:
- Why did you choose this project?
- What did you enjoy most about the project?
- What have you learned from the project?
- How did your parent or mentor help you?
- Engineering is the application of science to creations or designs that benefit mankind. What do you think are the engineering applications of the knowledge found in your science project? In other words, if you were an engineer, what would or could you create out of your science project?
For the intermediate age group (Grade 4-6): Briefly explain the underlying scientific theories behind the project, why you chose this method and equipment, and is the experiment repeatable and why?
For the senior age group (Year 7-9): Briefly explain the underlying scientific theories behind the project, why you chose this method and equipment, and whether the experiment is repeatable and why, and any formulas or calculations used in the project?
If it is not practical to film the actual project, your video could show photos together with an explanation of the project.
The Robogals Science Challenge is open to all girls from the ages of 5 to 15 in Australia and is free of entry. Registration opens on the 2 nd of June and closes 7 th October – a week before the competition concludes. The video for the Major Challenge can be submitted at any time between the opening and closing dates, though is recommended to be submitted after the completion of at least one of the Minor Challenges.
The most important aspect of this competition is that everyone enjoys their experiments and sees that science and engineering can be fun! Everything we do starts and ends with that principle.
As well as having the chance to win a prize in your division for first, second and third, there is also an award for the Crowd Favourite in each age division. The voting begins on the 1 st September, when the video submissions open for the Major Challenge, and closes on the 17th October, a couple of days after the competition concludes. The voting is open to the general public as well as those participating. This gives you the chance for you to be able to vote for your favourites as well as have your friends and family vote for your own project.
To determine the winners for each age group, the videos submitted for the Major Challenge will be judged by our esteemed panel of judges. The entries for the Major Challenge will be ranked using a scoring method based on the following:
- Creativity of project
- Complexity relative to age
- Emphasis on the young girl's work
- Science Validity
- Address to engineering and society
- Presenation/Communication of scientific concept *You don’t need to be technical, instead make the science you are explaining accessible
- Response to written questions
- For the intermediate age group (Grade 4-6): a demonstrated understanding of the theory behind the project
- For the senior age group (Year 7-9): a demonstrated understanding of the theory behind the project and the formulas or calculations used in the project