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Tag: Tips and Tricks

Digital Competition

Quick Fixes to Upgrade Your Submission!

Here are two key tips for you to unlock the full potential of your designs.


Written by Sung Soo Moon, Galactic Challenge Volunteer

Illustrated by Saffron Zainchkovskaya, Galactic Challenge Volunteer 


Are all your diagrams clearly labelled with dimensions and descriptions?

The world doesn’t run on wishy washy guesswork. When designing missions for interplanetary space travel, accuracy and precision are key for successful completion. With the Rescue on the Comet, the stakes are the highest imaginable since human lives are in your hands.

Describe your diagrams so people know what they’re looking at! We want to see how you communicate your vision and convey your ideas visually in a clear and concise manner. In real engineering situations, it is important that the thousands of people working on a project are all clear in your overall objective. It’s your job as the designer to remove all uncertainty in the design. If you’ve never seen it before, would you be able to tell what it is?

When you’re designing something, you will always have a sense of scale in your head that you want to convey to the viewer, so they too will understand your vision for the designs. Think about this clock you might have designed:

Who’s the clock for? How big is it? 5cm? 5m? 50m? 50km?

Now we need some dimensions and units. It provides a sense of scale to the viewer. Dimensions and units are crucial in any diagram; you don’t want to make a $125 million mistake like our friends at NASA once did.

Three clocks at different scales: an alarm clock (left), a larger clock (centre), and the interior of a really big clock with huge cogs (right). 

Additionally, it’s good to consider why a thing is a certain size. What if it were slightly smaller or larger, how would it be affected? In general, to blast things into space, we’d ideally like them to be as light and small as possible. In addition to this, smaller things usually are cheaper to make since it needs a smaller amount of the raw materials. To post a letter to Mars and back would cost a staggering £11,602.25, so every gram you want rocketed into space must be justified.

On the other hand, think about how practical and useful your designs can be. A space suit that only has 15 minutes of oxygen will be difficult to use. Keep in mind that accidents and emergencies can happen unexpectedly, and good designs will reduces the chances of different catastrophic situations outside of the user’s control.

Below is an example of the clock, labelled with descriptions and dimensions with units:

Make sure you give lengths for all three dimensions, as well as any extra measurements you think are relevant. Give a short, clear description of the feature so that the reader is clear in what you have designed.

Is your science referenced?

Any facts, figures and images you use in your submission should be referenced appropriately by providing sources. For us to judge your submission, references are helpful to check the science and your understanding of it. For a more general setting, the reader can look up your sources if they want to find out more about this particular topic.

Importantly, any bold claims must be backed up by legitimate scientific evidence! This does not mean you cannot be creative and inventive with your designs. We are looking at what might be plausible for the year 2061, so if you can find evidence of how your designs might work and how current technology will advance to make that happen, include it in your submission.

Referencing doesn’t necessarily mean scientific journal articles, and we don’t expect you to use them. Not everyone has a master’s in physics. Any reliable website, magazine, book or video can contain useful information you might want to use to support your designs. Wikipedia can be a useful tool, but shouldn’t ever be used as a reference because anyone can edit it at any time. You should provide a list of sources you use and refer to them where you use the information.

Make sure you can easily re-find sources from your research. You never know when you’ll need it again!

Digital Competition

How We Judge the Digital Competition

What actually happens after you upload your entry? How are the awards determined? Take a look behind the scenes to see what happens during the judging process.


by Aadil Kara, Galactic Challenge Chair


The deadline to enter Mission IV of the Galactic Challenge is 30th June. After everyone has uploaded their entries, we will spend the next few weeks judging all the entries and choosing the winners.

If you are reading this, you might be interested in how we actually do that. Let us take a look behind the curtain, and see what happens during the judging process!

What happens to my entry after I upload it?

We start by looking through all the entries – every single one.

This is a quick check to make sure everything is in order. We check for corrupted and broken files. Sometimes people send us the wrong files by mistake, so we check for those too.

(If you’re wondering, some of the things entered over the last year include: a screenshot of our own website; some unrelated geography homework; and the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song Never Gonna Give You Up. None of them won any awards.)

We then pass the remaining entries over to the judging panel. To make this as fair as possible, all the entries are anonymised.

The judges don’t know your names or the school you attend. They only see:

  • the name of your entry
  • the number of people in your team
  • your school years and age group.

How are the entries judged?

The judges have experience in science, space and education. To make it fairer, your entry will be judged by a pair of judges working together. 

There are six things we look at in each entry.

  • Three of these are the different tasks (they are labelled 1 to 3 on the website)
  • The other three look at the overall quality of the entry (we call them Science, Creativity and Presentation)

How can you get a high score? Here is a free hint: notice that each of the tasks has a blue box with a “Tip”. Those tips exactly match what the judges are looking for. Your entry will qualify for an award just by following those tips.

You can get even better awards by exceeding them!

How are awards chosen?

If the judges think that your entry achieves everything in the blue boxes, it will qualify for an award.

The entries are ranked using the scores given by the judging panel. Entries that qualify are given Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.

The Special Awards are a little different. There are seven Special Awards:

  • Best of Key Stage 2 (Individual)
  • Best of Key Stage 2 (Group)
  • Best of Key Stage 3 (Individual)
  • Best of Key Stage 3 (Group)
  • The Science Award
  • The Creativity Award
  • The Presentation Award

At the end of the process the whole panel meets to select the final winners of these Special Awards.

What can I do to get an award?

Here are some ideas of what you can do:

  • Read the challenge information carefully.
    Your entry will qualify for an award just by following the tips in the blue boxes. You can get even better awards by exceeding those tips.
  • Check the rules of the competition.
    Importantly, keep to the page limit of four A4 pages. We do this to make it fair for everyone. If your entry is longer than this, the judges only consider the first four pages, so make sure all your best work is there.
  • Think about your entry layout and presentation
    The judges will score your entry highly if they can read it easily. Use headings to break up text. If you are writing on paper, make sure that the photograph or scan is clear and not blurry!
  • And finally, read the other articles in this collection!
    There is more to come in the next few weeks, with more top tips to improve your entry. If you have registered, you will get a weekly email about new articles.