2010 Massachusetts Competition Submission Guidelines

General                  Video                   Writing

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Background: The twin issues of climate change and adequate energy resources are critical challenges facing our world, but also challenges that do not affect us on a day-to-day basis.  This competition invites students to investigate these issues and then tell the story they have found, with video or in writing.  The piece must be related to energy:  Current energy use, the traditional energy industries, alternate energy industries, changes brought about by decisions that we make about energy use or policy.  The format could be a public service announcement, a documentary, a technical piece, a song, a future-fiction story – it is up to your imagination. 

Afterword: Each entry must be accompanied by a short afterward (200-to 500 words) that describes why you became interested in and chose the particular topic of your work.  It should also summarize what you have learned as you worked on your entry.  Include any references, graphs, or other data, as appropriate.  

Eligibility:  All students attending high school in Massachusetts (grades 9-12) for the 2009/2010 school year, whether private, parochial, public or home schooled.  Maximum age is 19.  All entries must be original works, but do not have to be created specifically for this contest.  An entry may be part of any school or youth organization project, or from individuals.  Entries may be collaborative efforts; all authors’ names must be included on the entry form.

Awards:  First place winners will receive $250 cash award in each of the four video time levels and the two writing categories.  Second through fifth place winners will also receive cash awards.  All finalists will be receive a t-shirt, have their entries posted on YouTube, and be invited to an awards reception, planned for May 2010; the exact date, speakers, and venue will be confirmed in early May. 

Entry Form:  Entry forms are on the website.  Please send an electronic version of the entry form to office.foresightproject@gmail.com so that we can log and track your entry.  If you do not receive confirmation of receipt of your form within two days, please call us directly: 978.391.4479.

Deadlines:  Electronic entries are due by midnight, April 30, 2010; DVDs must be postmarked by April 30, 2010.  See separate information for format submission.

Selection: Each entry will be rated independently by three or more judges.  Finalists will be announced by May 15, 2010; the number of finalists chosen will be at the judges’ discretion, and will depend on the number of entries of that level, format and type.  All decisions by the judges regarding award levels will be final. 

Good Luck – and most of all, Have Fun!

Fine-Print: We reserve the right to choose which entries will be considered, and may reject entries for any reason, including relevance, appropriateness of subject, or effectiveness of the message.  By submitting an entry you agree that it can be used by The Foresight Project in any way, including screenings, posting on the internet, or other uses, and that if under 18 you have your parents’ permission for such a submission.  You also retain the right to use your work in any way, non-profit or commercial.

Video:  There are four levels, based on length: 

    1. Public Service Announcement (PSA), 30-60 seconds
    2. Micro-Docs, 1-2 minutes: Creative or Documentary
    3. Shorts, 4-6 minutes: Creative or Documentary
    4. Feature Length, 20-30 minutes: Creative or Documentary

Examples of videos: Interview an entrepreneur in your area; Document a weatherization specialist evaluating a home; Film a musical, a play, or any other performance art form; Create a parody; Make an animation.  This website has more ideas. 


  • Submit your video on a CD in one of the common digital video file formats, one submission per disc.  Acceptable files are: .avi, .mov, and .mpg.  Please Note: it is important to send us the video files themselves, and not an encoded DVD format, so that we can copy them for projection.

  • Save at the highest resolution settings available so that your submission is appropriate for projection on a large screen, not just for playback on a laptop or mobile device.

  • Videos must be postmarked by April 30, 2010.  Send to: The Foresight Project, Box 874, Ayer, MA  01432. 

Judging:  The entries will be judged along four basic criteria. Three are related to the video itself: Completeness of the storyline; Technical Quality, and Overall Impact.  The fourth element that will be considered is your afterward submitted with the entry.  Check grammar and spelling. 

Suggestions for Success:

  1. Have two other people Proof-Read!: Typos are distracting, and can ruin an otherwise high-impact piece. 
  2. Give your entry a distinctive title to avoid confusion with other submissions.  Or, if you call it “Global Warming”, then add your team name or initials.
  3. Text needs to show up clearly against the background; artistic fonts or colors can be hard to read, and detract from, not add to, the quality of the video. 
  4. Double-check the scientific accuracy of your entry with a suitable teacher. 
  5. View previous submissions (as well as other videos) to see what works and what doesn’t work. 

Use of Copyrighted Material: Any and all copyrighted material must be acknowledged in the ending credits.  (Don’t count this time in the running time listed for the video.)  Follow your school’s guidelines in obtaining a release from anyone appearing in your video.  If using commercially available material, consult the Department of Commerce information on fair use of copyrighted material, or other sources, such as the Student Press Law Center.  For information on our own interpretation of fair-use, see Comments on Copyrights on NEWS page.

Writing: There are two categories: Fiction and Non-Fiction.

Examples of fiction would be a future-fiction story: if writing such a story, the content must be realistic about energy; any technology that is not already being used must be already known to be technically possible, and justified in terms of net energy use.  The entry or afterward should include some discussion of the cost and time-line to develop and deploy this technology.  No magic solutions, gift-giving aliens, or dilithium crystals are allowed.  (Time travel is allowed under poetic license if you are writing an alternate history.)

Non-fiction pieces could be a journalism article or a piece of scientific writing: interview researchers, people in the clean tech industry, analyze who does and who doesn’t believe in global warming; write an expose.  Other ideas will be available on the website. 


  1. Length must be between 1,500 to 7,500 words, not including the afterward.

  2. For uniform judging, we need to have uniform formatting (Any questions, let us know):

    Font: Trebuchet, size 10, with one and a half line spacing, and one inch margins.

    Separate Title Page: Include a separate title page with all of your contact information. 

    First Page:  Include the story title on the first page, centered, size 14 font.

    Footer: Each page should have the title followed by your initials (not your name), along with page number and total pages. 

    Don’t forget the afterward!

Judging: The entries will be judged by creativity, writing (and technical) quality, as well as your afterward submitted with the entry.  Check grammar and spelling: Have at least two other people Proof-Read! ― What writer wants their mistakes published for everyone to see?


Copyright:  All writing must be original, but need not be specifically created for this competition.  Please acknowledge any references or other sources of information. 


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