Rules and Guidelines

Rules of Participation

  • You must be a full-time high school student attending a public, private, or home school at the time of your application.
  • You must be a U.S. resident during the 2016–2017 school year.
  • One submission per applicant
  • One or two students per project

Proposal Guidelines

You must adhere to the below format strictly. Please make sure all components listed below are addressed and clearly presented in your PDF submission. Failure to follow this format may result in an invalid application.

The paper should be in 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font, double-spaced (1.5 not allowed), 1 inch margins, and no more than 10 pages. Please include references used at the end (see References below for more details). All images/diagrams that you did not create yourself should be cited. 

The paper should also be divided into sections for readability. We suggest a title and abstract to begin the proposal, the first section for motivation and your approach or solution, the second section for project logistics and organization, and the third section for personal interest. We will only read the material you present in your proposal and will not evaluate information contained in external links included in the paper.

Tips on writing a good proposal


  • Name: your name(s), school
  • Mentor (optional): name, email address, affiliation (company, organization, school, university)



Write an accurate, interesting, and concise abstract for your project in up to 250 words. In paragraph form, please describe the following aspects of your project:

  • Motivation: What is the need or problem you are trying to solve?
  • Goals: What are the desired outcomes of your project?
  • Approach: How do you plan to implement your project idea?

For a good how-to guide on writing an effective abstract, please consult the following website (



  • Problem: Clearly identify the need or problem that you are trying to solve. Then explain any relevant background information, including scientific theory and existing technologies.
  • Current Work: Identify the current state-of-the-art approaches/solutions, and why they are insufficient.
  • Solution: Describe your proposed solution and how it will address the need or problem. Compare your idea to existing solutions and show us why this solution is technically feasible.



  • Approach: Explain the steps for how you will implement your project idea. Convince us that your project is feasible.Show calculations and be sure to include diagrams if necessary.
  • Resources: Specify the resources you will need during the whole process. How will you acquire these resources? Are you planning to work with a local mentor?
  • Goals: Establish milestones and completion criteria for your project. How will you test and evaluate your implementation? What are its performance specifications, if applicable?  If you are working in a two-member team, discuss how you plan to divide the work and responsibilities and how you will facilitate collaboration.
  • Risks: Identify three issues you might encounter during implementation. How will you mitigate these risks? Propose some alternative solutions.
  • Timeline: Identify key deliverables and deadlines. How will you document the implementation process between these milestones?
  • Current Progress and Need for Funding: Describe any previous work you have done on this topic. How will the funding from the THINK program allow you to achieve your proposed goals?
  • Projected Budget: Table with columns: Item, Amount, Cost, etc. Include links to exact costs if you can find them. If you are unable to find exact costs, please estimate to the best of your ability.



  • Interest: Write about your background and personal interest in this project.
  • Qualifications: Describe the skills you have and skills you need to learn to complete this project.



Cite all sources consulted using the APA format. Include both in-text citations and a Works Cited page at the end of the paper. The Works Cited page(s) will not count as part of the page limit for the proposal.


Questions? See our FAQs.