The Innovate to Mitigate competition occurs in three phases: Abstract, Investigation, and Submission.

Abstract Phase

Student teams submit a brief statement (250 words) describing how their idea relating to biodiversity can help mitigate climate change. The statements are open for crowdsourced discussion on our Canvas community learning site. Students use feedback from peers to revise and resubmit abstracts.

Ideas presented in the abstract should be innovative (i.e., adapting an idea from someone else rather than just copying it). An innovation can:

  • Be an entirely new idea
  • Build on an existing idea in new ways
  • Use common materials in new ways

The abstract should:

  • Go beyond a generic statement such as “everyone needs to save energy” to present a specific idea that will become an investigation
  • Clearly describe what is innovative
  • Include scientifically accurate information
  • Describe an investigation that is feasible to execute within the time-frame of the challenge

The abstract does NOT need to make the case for climate change mitigation.

Submission Phase

Students work on their project, developing and testing their mitigation prototype or idea. Midway through the challenge time-frame, they post a progress report for comment on Canvas and ask for help in the community problem-solving forum.

Presentation Phase

Students work on and then present their video (2-minute maximum) and paper (1,200 words maximum). The presentation provides details about how and why their innovation will reduce greenhouse gases. Participants, judges, and visitors pose questions and discuss the presentations. Final winners are selected by a team of judges from the scientific community. There is also a community vote.

The presentation should clearly describe the innovation and include some scientific information.

Video Camera

Video (2 minutes)

In the video, participants describe their innovation, why it would reduce greenhouse gases, and its predicted impact. A winning video pitch:

  • Describes the innovation and the relevant science clearly
  • Is well organized and flows well
  • Engages the attention of the audience
Pen and Paper

Paper (1200 words max.)

The paper should:

  • Describe the biodiversity innovation, and back it up with data, and argue for how it mitigates climate change
  • Present conclusions and supporting evidence clearly, logically, and precisely
  • Use some reasonable assumptions to calculate or model the size of the innovation’s impacts if it were implemented (A spreadsheet or table could present this.)
  • Describe possible limitations
  • Include a short bibliography


The subway piezoelectric project did a very good job at using two problems, lack of steady pressure and high power use in urban areas, to create a solution. I was intrigued by their idea and would be excited to see it in action in a big city."  

– Judge commenting on projects