Celebrating High School Innovators (CHSI)
Submission Deadline01/05/2018


To identify, foster, and celebrate high school innovators in the state of Illinois whose contributions are exceptional or inspirational.


Friday, September 15, 2017: Round I Submission Deadline, Online

Saturday, September 30, 2017: Celebration of Innovation at Millikin University. All Round I Applicants encouraged to attend. All Applicants that attend will receive a $500 scholarship to Millikin University.

Sunday, October 1, 2017: Top 50 Applicants/Teams Advancing in Competition Announced, Online/Email

Friday, November 3, 2017: Top 50 Applicants/Teams attend Startup Showcase at Illinois State University

Friday, January 5, 2018: Round II Submission Deadline, Online

Monday, January 15, 2018: Top 30 Applicants/Teams Advancing in Competition Announced, Online/Email

Saturday, March 3, 2018: Top 30 Applicants/Teams attend Workshop with Mentors/Teachers at Millikin University

Saturday, April 7, 2018: Top 30 Applicants/Teams Display & Interview Phase at Illinois State University

Sunday, April 8, 2018: Announcement of Results of Round III – 10 Finalists Advance to Round IV Immediately at Illinois State University


Celebrating High School Innovators Competition Guidelines

  1. Eligibility: A student is eligible to compete if enrolled (public, private, or home-school) and in good academic standing in the 9th – 12th grade in Illinois during the time over which the current competition is taking place.
    1. At their discretion, the organizers may allow limited participation from international students at similar levels.
    2. The organizers also reserve the right to exclude entrants from previous years if the idea presented is not substantially different from the form it took in the previous competition. This change could include substantial new evidence of how the idea meets the competition criteria; see III.B. below.
  2. Teams: Each team must consist of between one and six team members.
    1. Each team must have a designated team leader, who must be an eligible student under Section I. The team leader will ensure compliance with the guidelines and will handle correspondence with the organizers.
    2. While limited non-student involvement in the team is allowed, students must make up the innovative and creative core of the team.
    3. Each team must have an advisor over the age of 21.
      1. The advisor guides the team through all aspects of the project, but the team leader is responsible for following the guidelines and meeting deadlines.
      2. An advisor may advise more than one team in the competition.
    4. An adult over the age of 21 must chaperone the team on any competition event. This need not be the advisor, but the advisor must approve any substitute chaperone.
    5. A team may have one or more mentors who provide guidance in the subject matter of the idea, entrepreneurship, or any other relevant area.
  3. Schedule of Events: The CHSI competition consists of a number of events over the course of the year.
    1. At present, those events are:
      1. Saturday, June 24, 2017: Mentorship Workshop: One-day event where students will learn personal branding, video editing and how to create a proposal of their innovative idea at Pontiac Township High School.
      2. Saturday, September 30, 2017: One-day Celebration of Innovation event at Millikin University. All applicants to CHSI will receive one-on-one mentorship, participate in hands-on peer activities and delve into innovation.
      3. Friday, November 3, 2017: Coinciding with Startup Showcase ISU, the top 50 ideas/idea teams will attend a day-long event at Illinois State University where they will network and receive additional mentorship.
      4. Saturday, March 3, 2018: The top 30 idea/idea teams and their teachers/mentors will participate in development workshops on idea pitching and teaching innovative students.
      5. Saturday & Sunday, April 7 & 8, 2018: A two-event, the top 30 idea/idea teams will participate in a final display of their innovation and will be interviewed on Saturday. Top ten finalists are announced at 8:30 am on Sunday morning, advancing to a live “shark tank” competition. These finalists compete for top 5 awards in each innovation category.
    2. The exact schedule and venues for these events will be announced at the beginning of the annual competition cycle and will be posted on the competition’s website.
    3. Although the organizers anticipate no changes to the schedule or venues after they are announced, they reserve the right to make changes if necessary. Such changes will be noted on the competition’s website and disseminated via each team’s contact information.
  4. Judging Criteria: This section outlines the specific requirements for each part of the competition and the general criteria by which those materials will be judged.
    1. Requirements for each part:
      1. For Round 1, each team will submit a three-minute video and a written summary describing their idea. The video should be submitted in MP4 format. The written summary should be no more than 1000 words and submitted via the online application software.
      2. For Round 2, the written project report may be up to 2500 words and submitted via the online application software.
      3. For Round 3, the team will present their idea in a “job fair” format, pitching their idea to members of the general public and individual judges. The team will have a table on which they can place a stand-alone poster, multi-media equipment, samples, prototypes, handouts, or any other material the team considers essential to clear and effective presentation of their idea.
      4. For Round 4, which takes place the next day and at the same venue as Round 3, each team will prepare a multi-media presentation for a live audience and a panel of judges. Each presentation will last a maximum of 10 minutes, with an additional five minutes for questions from the judges.
      5. Competition scoring will not be cumulative. In other words, teams will begin each new round with a score of zero points.
      6. If tie scores occur, the judges may increase the number of teams advancing to the next round to allow teams receiving the tie scores to advance. If, in the judges’ view, this would result in too many advancing teams, the judges will employ some method to break the tie by random choice (coin-flipping, dice-rolling, or randomly re-ordering the tied teams near the cut-off and advancing the required number of teams from the top of that randomly ordered list).
    2. Criteria:
      1. For all oral, multi-media, and written presentations, teams will be judged on grammar, logic, and clarity.
      2. For oral presentations, teams will additionally be judged on poise, professionalism, comprehensibility, enthusiasm, and technical/professional fluency.
      3. For multi-media presentations, teams will additionally be judged on visual design and the effective use of software and technology.
      4. The idea presented by the team will be judged on a number of criteria (if applicable), including but not limited to:
        1. Originality – how new is the idea?
        2. Innovation – how clever is the idea?
        3. Utility – how useful or marketable is the idea?
        4. Potential – how likely is your idea to grow in impact or consequence?
        5. Consequence – will the idea make a difference in lives?
        6. Practicality – can the idea be brought to fruition as presented?
        7. Sustainability – both financial (can the idea generate enough revenue?) and environmental (is the idea a good steward of our planet’s resources?)
  5. Professionalism: This section outlines the standards of conduct, dress, and other hallmarks of professionalism that the organizers expect of each participant. Failure to abide by these guidelines could result in a reduction of a team’s score or their removal from the competition.
    1. Each team member will adhere to the highest standards of professional ethics. This includes honest communication in all aspects of the competition (including no plagiarism), avoiding conflicts of interest if possible and acknowledging them if they do arise, protecting the integrity of your ideas and the ideas of the other participants, and abiding by all the rules and guidelines of the competition. In addition, each team member should avoid any unprofessional behavior (teasing, bullying, mischief, horseplay, etc.) that might harm others or property or that might harm the reputation of the team, its sponsors, the organizers, or the competition’s sponsors.
    2. The dress code for all events in which team members present to judges or the general public will be business casual. Team members should bear in mind that they represent their team, sponsors, and schools at all events and that their appearance reflects on those entities.
    3. The organizers of CHSI will not allow any discrimination based on race, color, ancestry, national origin, disability, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or any other factor protected by law.
  6. Disclaimers:
    1. The CHSI competition includes public presentations, and the participants must determine whether to disclose sensitive or proprietary information that might affect intellectual property rights or have other adverse implications. CHSI, its organizers, volunteers, and sponsoring institutions assume no liability for the accidental or voluntary disclosure of sensitive or proprietary information in the competition.
    2. b. The organizers will make every reasonable effort to avoid conflict of interest in the competition. To that end, all judges and organizers, by agreeing to serve in their respective roles, certify that their service represents no conflict of interest with any of the teams in the competition. All judges and organizers will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
  7. Indemnification: By agreeing to participate in this competition, each entrant acknowledges that:
    1. CHSI, its organizers, volunteers, and sponsoring institutions make no guarantees of the quality or effectiveness of any in-kind services offered as part of the prize packages for the winners. Each entrant agrees to hold CHSI, its organizers, volunteers, and sponsoring institutions blameless with regard to the quality or suitability of in-kind services offered as prizes.
    2. CHSI, its organizers, volunteers, and sponsoring institutions are not responsible for any voluntary or accidental disclosure of sensitive or proprietary information resulting from public presentations during the competition.
    3. CHSI and its sponsoring institutions are hereby granted the right to use pictures and videos of team members taken at CHSI events for publicity, marketing, informational, and other purposes without limitation and without compensation to the participants.
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