2018 Skyway STEM Poster Competition
Submission Deadline04/17/2018

Event Description

The Skyway STEM Competition is a poster contest designed to encourage participation in STEM related disciplines. Projects will be evaluated on the participants’ ability to use the methodology of their respective fields, as well as rational and logical thinking to answer a question in the field of science, technology, mathematics or engineering.

The project must pose a question and use knowledge gained through the inquiry driven process to address the problem or question. Projects must be in a science, technology, engineering, or math related discipline as defined in the event rules. Judging criteria is explicitly defined in the Judges scoring sheets which are available to all participants.

Submission Process and Event Management

The event will be managed by the criteria described below.

Host College

The College of Lake County
19351 W. Washington St.
Grayslake, IL 6003

Time Frame

  • October- February: Skyway colleges select up to 10 student projects for competition.
  • March 9, 2018, 5pm: Deadline for submission of Student Abstract forms to competition web site with 5 bonus points.  ( Extended to 3/16/18 without bonus points)
  • April 13, 2018, 5 pm: Deadline for submission of posters and project paper to competition web site. 
  • April 20, 2018: Competition takes place at The College of Lake County


  • 8:30 am – 9:15 am: Arrival, set-up, and breakfast 
  • 9:15 am – 9:30am: Welcome 
  • 9:30 am – 12:30 pm: Judging and activities (3 rounds) 
  • 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm: Lunch and awards 

Host College Contacts

  • Jorge Tennin
    Director of Student Activities
  • Jeet Saini
    Associate Dean of Biological and Health Sciences
  • Jeanine Seitz-Partridge
    Biology Instructor

Competition Eligibility

  • Colleges who are members of the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference may participate.
  • Colleges may submit up to 10 student projects. An abstract for each submission is required by the March 9, 2018, 5pm deadline.
  • Skyway colleges are free to establish their own method to identify and select their student submissions.
  • Projects may be submitted by an individual or a group.
    • All submissions must identify one student and one College Coordinator with whom the Host College will communicate regarding logistics and submission details.
    • All participants must be students enrolled in at least one class in one of the specified disciplines during summer 2017, fall 2017, or spring 2018 at their Skyway College.
    • No team member may have earned a degree (bachelors or higher) in a STEM related field.
    • Participants may be individuals or teams. All team members must be listed as participants on the abstract submitted by March 9, 2018, 5pm. At least one team member must attend the competition. All team members who attend must be prepared to respond to judge’s questions.
    • Posters and the projects are to be completed by students with as little assistance from faculty, advisors or non-team members as possible. However, it is recognized that many posters are completed as part of class projects or independent study and interaction between instructor and the student team at some level is appropriate but should be limited.

Rules and Evaluation Criteria


  • Each college will select up to 10 student projects to represent their college.
  • The method of selecting these projects is at the discretion of the college.
  • Abstracts are to be limited to 100 words and are to describe the question or problem being studied, a rationale for the question/problem and the hypothesis being tested. 
  • Abstracts for each submission are due March 9, 2018, 5pm through the competition web site.  
  • The host college may accept late abstract submissions (submitted through the website) until it is no longer feasible to do so. This extension must be available to all colleges and be applied equally. The cutoff date for late submissions is to be determined at the discretion of the host college as they see fit.  
  • Abstracts submitted by the March 9, 2018, 5pm deadline will be awarded 5 points.

Poster Construction

  • Posters must be self-supporting poster board that is no larger than 48 x 36 inches.
  • All elements of the poster shall be contained within this space. Three dimensional items are not permitted.
  • The poster may not have any attachments (i.e. layers).
  • Posters may include photographs, graphs, charts, or diagrams that explain or portray research elements or study conclusions.
  • Posters may include original drawing or computer created visuals designed to explain or portray research or study conclusions.
  • Poster template programs are available online or via Microsoft Power Point. An example can be found at http://www.posterpresentations.com/html/free_poster_templates.html. The competition website may have format requirements and specific information should be available in February 2018.

Project Research Paper Expectations

A paper describing the project research and findings is required. This paper must be prepared in a Word document (single-spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman) and is limited to two pages. The purpose of the paper is to discourage excess text on the posters and to aid judges in the evaluation process.

Electronic Poster and Paper Submission

The electronic version of the poster and the explanatory project paper must be submitted no later than April 13, 2018, 5 pm via the Competition web site. Entries received by this deadline will be awarded 5 points.

Event Participation

  • Posters will be assigned a judging time on the day of the Poster Competition. There will be three judging cycles and projects will be judged in one of those cycles.
  • At least one member from a poster team must be present to respond to the judges’ questions. All team members are encouraged to attend and should be prepared to respond to judges’ questions.
  • Only student team members may participate in the judging discussion. Faculty advisors, coaches, family members and others will be asked to step out of the area (at the discretion of the judge) during the judging conversation.

Selection of Judges

Judges will be provided by Argonne Labs. The selection of post-doctoral students in the Fellowship program will be made by the administration of Argonne Labs based on the disciplines of the abstracts submitted, matching fields of study and expertise. Judges shall not have affiliation with any participating college.


A fair and equitable representation of award categories will be determined based upon student projects submitted. There will be no more than four award categories, with each category providing a first, second, and third place. One poster may also receive the Best of Show award at the discretion of the judges. 


Projects will be evaluated on the student or team’s ability to use the process of science, as well as rational and logical thinking to answer a question related to a STEM discipline. The poster must pose a question and use knowledge gained through the scientific process to address the problem or question. Categories are: biological science, chemistry, physical science, computer science, earth science, technology, engineering, physics, and math related disciplines.


How to Participate

Each Skyway College will conduct its own selection process. Upon completion of that selection, the College will submit up to ten completed Skyway Poster Competition Abstracts no later than March 9, 2018, 5pm.

Students at Skyway Colleges must enter through their campus STEM Event Coordinator, as each college is free to select their 10 submissions at their discretion. 

Each poster team will submit their poster and their supporting paper to the Skyway STEM web site with the assistance of their College Coordinator no later than April 13, 2018, 5 pm

The Competition will be held at the College of Lake County on Friday, April 20, 2018. At least one student engaged in the project must be in attendance to present their work and respond to judges’ questions. However, all participants are strongly encouraged to attend.

Guide to the STEM Poster Competition Rubric

Problem: Every project has a starting point, whether it is a desire to find a solution, the drive to help the members of our community or ecosystem, or the need to gain a greater understanding of how our universe operates. The project should be designed around some problem to solve, and students are expected to explain what that problem is. What led to this project being created?

Expected OutcomeIn what way does the student(s) believe that the project has the ability to help mitigate or solve the problem? Are they trying to engineer a solution, or are they taking the first steps toward a bigger picture? What is the expected impact of the project upon completion?

Design: Students are expected to explain how the design of their project addresses the problem.

Methodology: Every design needs something built into it to ensure the data gained is of high quality. The types of controls and variables built in are to be based on the projects’ methodology. For example, this could be a foundation of theorems used to derive a mathematical proof, a control group in a biology experiment, a constant in the experiment to test the other variables around, or a control flow statement in software development.

Data Collection: The type and amount of data is to be based on the methodology of the project. The key is not to gather vast amounts of data, but enough data to support your conclusion. For example, a project in physics is likely to collect a lot of data in support of the system being studied, whereas a mathematical proof is itself a single data point. The amount of data can range from a single point to a rather large amount. Be sure the amount of data is appropriate to justify the conclusion, and be sure it is presented in a proper format (single statement, data table, graph, etc.) based on the amount of data.

Data Presentation and Analysis: The way you present the data is to be based on the methodology of the project, and the amount of data you have. For example, a software development project that is simply a “did or did not” work project can likely discuss their data in a statement, or a science project that gathers a large amount of data may need to be formatted as a data table or a graph. Be sure to do some sort of error analysis as well (discuss sources, quantify error, etc.).

Conclusion: Students will be expected to discuss the project’s outcomes based on their findings. Is the conclusion appropriate to the project and its methodology? Is the conclusion based on the data and stated in terms of the problem?

Applications: The applications of the project are to be based on the methodology. For example, if your team engineered some apparatus to fix a problem, you should discuss in what way and to what degree you accomplished this goal. If the purpose is simply to add to the fields of science and mathematics, then that itself is the application (knowledge for the sake of knowledge).

References: What sources were used in the initial research for the project? This could include, but is not limited to, scholarly journal articles, textbooks, interviews, etc. Be sure to give credit to your sources. Suggested formats are APA and MLA.

Visual Display: This category largely deals with the poster organization. Is it organized and easy to follow? Is all necessary information present? Be sure to check the poster for spelling and grammar errors.

Professionalism: It is an important life-skill for students to be able to act professionally in a professional environment. Professionalism is expected of them during the interview process. Please dress business casual for the presentation.

Knowledge of Design: Each student in the group should be prepared for the questions of the judges. Were the student(s) in the group able to answer questions about the project design? What is the degree of the knowledge of what they worked on?

Knowledge of Topic: Each student in the group should be prepared to answer the questions of the judges. What is the degree of the knowledge of the student(s) in the field in which they are working? Do they know an appropriate level of background knowledge based on their problem, project and methodology?

Knowledge of the Methodology: Each student in the group should be prepared to answer the questions of the judges. How do students incorporate their subject’s methodology into their project and design? How knowledgeable are the student(s) in their subject’s methodology?

Ability to Communicate: Students are expected to be able to respond to the judges’ questions when presenting their poster and project.

Event Photos
Event Videos