The Insoluble Science Challenge - A Digital Film Competition

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Students work individually to create a 1-3 minute video that proposes a new, innovative solution to a current problem, and explains the STEM principles used in their proposed solution. There are two age groups: Grades 5-8, and 9-11. Three contestants from each age group will take home a prize!

Welcome to The Insoluble Science Challenge!

Penn State and Restek are teaming up to encourage students to become inventors! Do you ever come across problems that you wish you could solve? Now is your chance! This year's theme is "innovation and problem-solving," and we want you to solve a current problem. Your video should:

1) Identify a current problem people face--whether in your own everyday life, in your community, or on a global scale.

2) Propose a new solution to this problem that uses STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) to solve the problem. Make sure your solution is a new and unique process, procedure, product, etc.

3) Explain how your solution would realistically work and how it uses STEM principles.


There are two age groups: Grades 5-8, and 9-11 for the 2015-2016 school year. The prizes for both age groups are:

First Place

Full 2016 residential Science-U summer camp scholarship.

Second Place

Full 2016 commuter Science-U summer camp scholarship.

Third Place

$150 credit value for a 2016 Science-U camp scholarship

All submissions are due by January 31st, 2016! Register by January 3rd!

How To Enter:

It's simple! Just follow these four steps:

  1. Have your parent/legal guardian submit the Registration Form by January 3rd, 2016.
  2. Review and follow the Rules and Regulations.
  3. Create your video! Please use the Judging Criteria when creating your video.
  4. Submit your video and the Video Submission Form by 9:00 PM ET on January 31st, 2016.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where can I get a camera?

Check your local library or school technology department if you are not using a cell phone or video camera from home. The Schlow Centre Region Library now has laptops with iMovie editing software that can be used for your project.

Can I do this with a friend?

No. This competition is to represent an individual's work and thinking.

Can I submit more than one video?

Each student may submit one video only. We do accept multiple videos per household. Proof of household members will be requested prior to video award announcements.

Can we submit more than one video per household?

Yes, if there is more than one child age-eligible in the house.

What if my video is under 60 seconds or over 3 minutes long?

Videos that are not in between 60 and 180 seconds will be disqualified.

Are there any resources on copyright requirements?

Yes - please checkout our copyright requirement webpage for more information.

Who will be judging the videos?

The panel of judges includes Penn State faculty and students.

Do you have any examples of similar video productions?

Please check out the 2013 Insoluble Science Challenge finalist for some amazing science video productions.

Can I email the file to someone?

We will not be accepting videos sent via email. Your parent/legal guardian must submit your video by sending a hard copy to the OSE office, or sending an electronic version using WeTransfer. Please see the Rules and Regulations for more information.

When will we know the results?

Results will be posted mid-March on our Facebook site and this page. The contestants will also receive an email.

Will the videos be posted on Youtube ever?

The winning videos will be uploaded to the Science-U Youtube channel: PSUScienceU

Can I register my child for a camp and get reimbursed if he/she wins a registration award?

The OSE office will reimburse you if the camp meets the requirements for the prize awarded to your child (i.e., First place residential scholarship, second place commuter scholarship, and third place is $150 credit value). However, we can apply a first place prize scholarship to the commuter scholarship.

If my child wins a scholarship and none of the 2016 camp weeks match our summer schedule, can we use the award for the 2017 programs?

The awarded scholarships are for the summer of 2016 Science-U camps only.

Is the "Grade" of the student based on their current grade or their grade for the Science-U Summer Camp 2016 registration, which goes with the 2016-2017 enrollment?

The "grade" of the student for the ISC challenge is based on the current 2015/2016 school year, and the prizes will then be applied for the 2016-2017 enrollment. For example, a current 8th grader will be judged with the 5th-8th grade group but will be eligible to attend the high school camps (for rising 9th-12th graders) in the summer of 2016. A current 9th grader, however, would be judged with the 9th-11th grade group and likewise be eligible for the same high school camps.

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