Innovation Challenge Criteria (a different one)

Hey, my team has a bit of a problem with the criteria for this year’s Innovation Challange.
We understood the challange as such that allows products which helps to deal with the origins of a mental illness to stand in the the criteria.
i.e: If the financial condition of a person causes him\her stress, we can creat a product that helps it’s users to earn more money
and hopefully to solve the stress problem from it’s roots.

Honestly, I’m a bit sceptical about this. I dont think it was in FIRST’s intentions.
What do you say about this?
Thanks for helping :slight_smile:

You’d run up against “active play or movement”.


So stressed right now…


Yea I saw that toppic too…
IDK, is it really their intention? Are they going to deduct points or even exclude great jobs which focuses on sleep, diet and many more?

While I will continue to advocate for judges to have a flexible interpretation of the problem statement, I think this would be a hard sell. But in the end that’s all that really matters… do you think your team can sell your innovative solution to the judges in a way that makes them believe it matches the criteria? If yes, go for it! If you don’t think you can sell it, and you have other viable ideas, maybe go with one of those. If you are all excited about this idea, forget the criteria and go with it anyways!

The biggest factor for any team in selecting an idea should be whether or not they are excited about it. Don’t pick an uninspiring idea just because it matches the criteria better!


What a great advice. thank you!

I would add on, I think this year we all (but especially teams that are 100%-virtual) have to balance “the most competitive approach” with “what is most engaging/exciting to the team”. Personally I would rather go a little off-theme on the Innovation Challenge, build a climber even though it’s not part of the skills challenge, etc and keep all 30 kids engaged & attendance high, than end the year winning all the awards but with only a couple kids still showing up. Not that I think it will come to that - most of our kids enjoy competition and will gravitate toward competitive ideas of their own volition. But if everyone on your team (and not just a couple of the loudest ones) really really wants to approach mental health by helping people earn more money, and fully acknowledge that it may not play as well with the judges because it’s barely on-theme, and none of the other ideas y’all came up with get them excited…maybe consider just letting them run with it.

This is how we (and many teams) approach Chairmans - instead of focusing on starting FIRST teams, as the rubric incentivizes, we do the outreach that feels authentic and meaningful to us, fully acknowledging that we are very unlikely to win the award. If we were serious about winning it, we’d take a different approach.

As a side note (not fully knowing what you have in mind), more money = less stress is not a straightforward or obvious proposition. I’ve known people who’ve worked as rideshare app drivers, odd-jobs apps, and the like who ended up more stressed than ever, feeling like they had to hustle every minute of the day, sacrificing all their relaxation & self-care time, for just a couple extra bucks. Maybe your team has something completely different in mind & this won’t be relevant, but just my 2 cents

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I have to ask how your team arrived at the decision that developing a solution for mental illness would fit within the guidelines given by the GDC? Was it the first or only problem put on the table? Did your team do any brainstorming to find problems to develop solutions for? Please note that I am not questioning the need for solutions relating to issues relating to mental illness.

Over the years, mentoring multiple FLL teams, I have noticed that, sometimes, teams have a solution in mind that they are looking for problems that they can apply to solution to. Often, the solution and problem do not fit within the guidelines given. Since the guidelines are intentionally very open ended, it should not be difficult to find a problem to solve that fits within those guidelines, is engaging to that group of students and developing a solution is within their abilities (or requires a bit of stretching).

I was able to guide the FLL team I am working with this year to apply some creative thought so they could shift the focus of their problem/solution so that they would fit within the guidelines given. They have actually made their solution more compelling and are still engaged in the solution and are working on it enthusiastically.