49th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference: MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL COMPETITION - May 16 Deadline

This year, the most important photovoltaic conference in North America is taking place both in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and online June 5-10, 2022.

Students of all ages (grades 4 – 12) from around the world are invited to participate in two competitions to showcase their solar projects and ideas:

  1. Solar Energy 90-second Video Pitch Competition
  2. Solar Future Narratives, a storytelling competition


In each competition, students are encouraged to think about how solar energy (photovoltaic) power systems can benefit the environment and at the same time enhance their community. Students are asked to present a new technology or concept, a new way to utilize solar power, or a broader use of solar energy conversion through a video pitch or a creative story. Previous knowledge about solar cells is not required. All that is needed is a desire to learn more about solar energy and to participate in the competition. Submissions can be in any language.

The competition will take place virtually, but we also hope to invite participants to exhibit their work in person if COVID-19 health concerns allow. Stay tuned for more information about this!

We structure the competition to mirror how researchers conceive of novel ideas, develop the ideas into specific design objectives, implement the designs, and report the findings. Throughout the competition, we will provide guidance and direction by phone, email, and face-to-face meetings when possible.

Awards will be given for both competitions at elementary, middle, and high school grade levels.

A selection of the submitted videos and narratives will be presented at a special session during the conference, during which winners will also be announced. This session of the conference will be free to the public (online). More information of date, time, and link to join forthcoming.

  • Project resources to guide your solar energy work can be viewed here
  • Here are links to learn more about how renewable energy systems work: www.pveducation.org and a field guide to innovative solar technologies AGI-Field Guide Renewable Energy, 2nd edition document
  • Materials for an activity for a solar soccer ball art installation that might spark your imagination can be found here.
  • To see some of our previous competition submissions, check out last year’s PVSC high school competition website here and the PVSC 46 competition highlights here. The competition has also been featured in a news article here.

Click on each of the categories above to see more details of each competition. Please direct your questions to SolarYouthScholars@ieee-pvsc.org.


Solar Energy 90-second Video Lightning Pitch Competition

Students are invited to present their solar energy projects in a fast and engaging 90-second video. Share your idea of how solar energy can make our future more sustainable, how solar can improve your community, or demonstrate the photovoltaic engineering project that you developed. Record your pitch and submit by May 16, 2022, to be judged by world famous photovoltaic engineers and scientists.

To see a few examples of prior submissions, click here and here

The conference committee is able to support a limited number of teams with funding to create a working prototype of their design (up to $200). Please ask an adult advisor to fill out the request form here. For mentoring support by a solar energy expert, please email SolarYouthScholars@ieee-pvsc.org.

Details on the competition rules and on how to submit your video are below.

  • Upload your video file here by May 16th.
  • Video pitch is restricted to 90 seconds. Videos over 100 seconds will be disqualified. Tips for making a great pitch can be found here.
  • Any video recording equipment is fine, including your iphone camera, Flipgrid, Quicktime, etc.
  • Topics can be wide-ranging – just make sure it is related to solar energy. You can show off a photovoltaic project and prototype that you developed or share your most innovative idea for a solar energy innovation to improve your community. Be creative!
  • You can work as an individual or as a small team (we encourage following your local COVID-19 guidelines). All participants must be 18 or younger to participate.
  • We are here to help. If you’re wondering if your idea is good enough to pitch, contact us. If you have technical questions about solar energy, contact us! Our solar energy mentors can help you polish your ideas and work on your pitch. Our email is SolarYouthScholars@ieee-pvsc.org. Please cc a parent or a teacher in your email.
  • Submissions may be shared during the conference and/or posted on the IEEE-PVSC website. A release form is required for each participant to be eligible for any award. The participant(s) and their parent/guardian can complete the form here. Please complete the form as soon as possible so that we can update you on resources to guide your work.
  • Awards will be given across all age categories.

Judging Criteria: Video Lightning Pitch submissions will be judged across six criteria using the rubric found here. Be sure to include aspects of these areas in your submission.

  • Solar Innovation Focus: Innovative use of the solar technology and/or implementation; degree to which the solar energy project provides benefit above what currently exists (comparison to state-of-the-art or to other power systems).
  • Development of Design Concept: How far have you taken your project? Describe the idea in a sketch, 2D rendering, 3D model, and/or working model. Additional points will be added for demonstration of a working prototype. For large scale concepts – a more sophisticated description of the idea may be more impactful than building a 3D model.
  • Knowledge: What do you know about solar energy? Demonstrates understanding of photovoltaics systems, including solar technologies, power systems, and social aspects (e.g., ownership, maintenance, energy policy, energy justice) at an age-appropriate level.
  • Social Value: How will this innovation contribute to your community or beyond? How will it make life better for people and the planet? Is your submission connected to the Challenges of Engineering and the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
  • Rooted in Science: How well does your concept follow scientific principles? How likely is it that your project could realistically be implemented?
  • Creative Communication: The degree to which ideas are communicated effectively (clarity, “voice”, engaging tone, creative use of the video media).

Directyour questions to SolarYouthScholars@ieee-pvsc.org.


Solar Future Narratives, a Storytelling Competition

Students are invited to participate by sharing their vision of how solar energy technology developments will impact their life in the future. Imagine a future where most of the energy we use is produced by the power of the Sun. Create your own story rooted in the lives and the communities you care about. Consider the ways that human societies and energy systems are connected. How would a solar energy future affect your school, your neighborhood, your family and friends? How can solar power reduce global climate change? We encourage entries that incorporate links to original musical compositions, visual art, and/or design drawings.

What Should My Story Include? No idea is too small or too big. Tell the story that matters to you using words, images, music … Below are some questions to consider:

  • Who are solar technologies designed for? Who owns them? Who uses them? Who could benefit most?
  • What are the technologies we choose to design? What is their purpose? What resources are needed to produce those technologies?
  • Where will we build the solar energy systems – both big and small – and how does that affect their design?
  • Why did we choose that place? Why is it important that we strive to make technologies beautiful?
  • When do we imagine these technologies taking shape? When do we need to get started?
  • How do we work together to turn our visions into reality? How does your story demonstrate the impact that solar energy will make on your community?

Judging Criteria: Solar Futures Narratives submissions will be judged across four criteria. Be sure to include aspects of these areas in your submission.

  • Knowledge: demonstrates understanding of photovoltaics systems, including solar technologies, power systems, and social aspects (e.g., ownership, maintenance, energy policy) at an age-appropriate level.
  • Social Value: Story touches on how solar impacts the author’s own community and on how human society and energy systems are connected.
  • Rooted in Science: Overall story is rooted in science; the narrative form may be sci-fi, but the story must be based on scientific principles.
  • Creativity: artistic/aesthetic value (effective use of the authors’ medias and artistic modes); innovative use of the solar technology and/or implementation described in the narrative.

How Do I Share My Story?

  • Upload your story by May 16th to be judged by world-famous photovoltaic engineers.
    Please submit a PDF or Word Document; if your story submission is in a video or other alternative format, please upload a Word Document containing a link.
  • More information on past submissions can be found at here and here.
  • All work must be your own. You may produce a story with a partner if you prefer, but both of you must be under 18-years-old to participate.
  • The rubric for this competition can be found here. Additional resources can be found here and here.
  • We are here to help! Our solar energy mentors can help by answering technical and social questions about solar energy systems and photovoltaics. Just email us your questions and we will put you in touch with a solar energy expert: SolarYouthScholars@ieee-pvsc.org. Please cc a parent or a teacher in your email.
  • Submissions may be shared during the conference and/or posted on the IEEE-PVSC website. You, your school, and your family are invited to attend.
  • A release form is required for each participant. The participant and their parent/guardian can complete the form here. Please complete the form as soon as possible so that we can update you on resources to guide your work.
  • Awards will be given across all age categories.

More Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Imagining Solar Futures

  • Spark your imagination by exploring these imagined renewable energy art installations here.
  • You may discover storyboarding is a useful tool for creating a narrative. These templates or this video might be helpful.
  • Want to imagine a future in which solar panels can take interesting shapes? Check out these hyperbolic soccer ball materials and invent your own non-Euclidian artwork covered in hexagonal solar panels.
  • What kind of story do you want to write? Explore the “shape” of different kinds of stories here.
  • The setting for your story should be your own community or another community you care about. Explore how different solar futures writers describe the setting for their stories here.
  • Find more information about the rubric here.

Direct all your questions to SolarYouthScholars@ieee-pvsc.org.

Science Topics
Energy (Renewable)
K-6, Middle School, High School, Educator
4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade

What are you looking for?


Photovoltaic Specialists Conference

Website URL

Type of Resource


Assigned Categories