CEF relies on dedicated volunteers—our Challenge Organizers—to organize the Challenge in communities nationwide. With CEF’s support, Organizers work with schools and educators to plan and implement Local and State Challenge competitions. Being an Organizer comes with numerous rewards, most notably seeing students in your community have fun and succeed in science!
How do I become an Organizer?
First, use the interactive Challenge map to see if there is a Local Challenge site in your community. Then, if you would like to start a new site* or would like to get involved at a current site, please complete our online Challenge Inquiry Form.
*Please note that our current focus is on supporting and growing our current Challenge sites. While growth into new localities and states will be limited at this time, we still encourage you to contact us so that we may plan for future years.
Current Organizers can use CEF’s Organizer website to access important Challenge updates and resources, register a Local Challenge site(s), maintain school registrations, and access Challenge questions. To access the website, Organizers must first create an Organizer account that CEF will approve.
If you are a current Organizer and are having trouble creating your Organizer account or accessing the Organizer website, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Organizer Responsibilities & Timeline
The Challenge follows a typical school year calendar. Organizer teams identify and communicate with schools each fall, serving as the primary contact for educators and participants leading up to the competition, then plan and implement a Challenge competition in the spring. See below for a basic timeline:
Local Challenge Organizers create an Organizer account and register their Local Challenge site online. Organizers identify interested schools and ensure that they register online with the appropriate Challenge site. Organizers begin securing sponsorship and planning for their Challenge event in the spring.
Schools continue to register for the appropriate Local Challenge. CEF provides a short, multiple choice Challenge Qualifier for schools to administer to determine the top scoring students who will advance to the Local Challenge competition. Local Organizers send registered schools the Challenge Qualifier online access information.
Local Organizers coordinate a quiz-bowl format Local Challenge competition. Organizers identify a venue and work with CEF to set up the competition format. Most Local Challenge sites use the TurningPoint electronic response system. Local Organizers will then communicate with their State Organizers or CEF to coordinate the top student(s) participation in the next level of competition, either state or national.
In states with more than one Local Challenge site, a team of State Challenge Organizers plans and conducts a State Challenge competition.
The top student from each state receives an expenses-paid trip to Philadelphia, along with one chaperone and one nominated educator from their state, to compete in the National Challenge competition.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many schools should participate at a Local Challenge site?
We recommend that Organizers identify 5-10 schools as a starting point for a new site, and that no more than 15 schools participate.
How many students should each school send to the Local Challenge?
The number of students who advance to the Local Challenge competition from each school depends on the number of participating schools. CEF recommends that Organizers invite no more than 30 students total to participate in a Local Challenge competition. Once the Organizer determines how many students will participate in the competition and all participating schools have registered online, s/he determines the number of students that each school may send.
May parents of Challenge participants serve as Challenge Organizers?
The Challenge Official Rules prohibit parents/guardians of current participants from serving as Organizers in the interest of fairness. Parents may help with event planning, contacting schools, and serving as day-of volunteers at competitions but may not handle the Challenge Qualifier or Challenge competition questions.
How much does it cost to hold a Local Challenge?
That depends on competition venue and prize costs. Some sites don’t use any funds. Most sites spend a few hundred dollars on awards and small prizes for the top participants, while others spend more for refreshments, bigger participant prizes (iPads, gift cards, etc.), and gifts for volunteers and educators. The cost is largely up to the Organizer. CEF works with Organizers to cover costs through the support of corporate sponsors.