Competitions

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Below is a summary description of the 2020 and 2021 middle school level TSA competitive events. Detailed specifications and rules regarding each event can be found in the "TSA Middle School Competitive Events Guide for the 2020 and 2021 National TSA Conferences."

For event entries submitted pre-conference:

  • A link will be provided approximately one month prior to the deadline of May 15th on the Competition Updates page.
  • This submission procedure applies ONLY to entries for the National TSA Conference, not to state TSA conference entries.
  • Email verification of each team's entry will be made by June 10th to the email provided during submission.

Each participant/team shall submit only one [1] entry for the following competitive events:

Biotechnology Participants (three [3] teams per state) conduct research on a contemporary biotechnology issue of their choosing, document their research, and create a display. The information gathered may be student-performed research or a re-creation or simulation of research performed by the scientific community. If appropriate, a model or prototype depicting some aspect of the issue may be included in the display. Semifinalist teams make a presentation and are interviewed about their topic.

Career Prep Participants (one [1] individual per chapter) conduct research on a selected technology-related career according to a theme posted on the TSA website, and use this knowledge to prepare a letter of introduction and a chronological skills resume. Participants submit the documentation pre-conference by May 15th. Semifinalists are announced onsite at the annual conference. Semifinalists participate in a mock interview.

Challenging Technology Issues Participants (three [3] teams of two [2] individuals per state) work together to prepare and deliver a debate-style presentation with participants explaining opposing views of a current technology issue. The current year's topics can be found on the Themes and Problems page.

Chapter Team Participants (one [1] team of six [6] individuals per chapter) take a written parliamentary procedures test in order to qualify for the semifinals, in which they conduct an opening ceremony, items of business, parliamentary actions, and a closing ceremony within a specified time period.

Children’s Stories Participants (three [3] teams per state; a team of one (1) is permitted) create an illustrated children’s story that will incorporate educational and social values. The story may be written in a genre of their choice. Examples are fables, adventures, non-fiction, fiction, and fairy tales. The story must revolve around the theme chosen for the given year. The current year's topics can be found on the Themes and Problems page. 

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Foundations Participants (two [2] individuals per state) have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of CAD fundamentals as they create a two-dimensional (2D) graphic representation of an engineering part or object.

Coding Participants (one [1] team of two [2] individuals per chapter) will demonstrate their knowledge of computer science and coding by taking a written test. Semifinalists will further demonstrate their programming knowledge by participating in an onsite programming challenge. Details about the onsite challenge (e.g., programming language to be used and practice problems) can be found on Themes and Problems.

Community Service Video Participants (one [1] team per chapter; entries may be submitted by an individual or a team) create and submit a video that depicts the local TSA chapter’s involvement with a community service project (e.g., American Cancer Society) of their choice. Participants submit the entry pre-conference by May 15th. Semifinalists are announced onsite at the annual conference.

Construction Challenge Participants (one [1] team per chapter) submit a scale model/prototype with a portfolio that documents the use of their leadership and technical skills to fulfill an identified community need related to construction. Semifinalists discuss their projects in a presentation and an interview.

Cybersecurity Foundations Participants (two [2] individuals per chapter) complete a Cybersecurity exam covering general cybersecurity vocabulary and knowledge needed to execute tasks commonly performed by all levels of cybersecurity professionals. Using digital presentation software such as Powerpoint, Prezi, or Moovly, participants prepare a presentation, addressing a specific cybersecurity issue, to a group of hypothetical corporate board members (i.e., judges).
Participants must explain the importance of cybersecurity and why it is essential that the organization invest in such measures. The problem statement will be posted on the TSA website under Competition/Themes and Problems. Semifinalists exhibit proficiency by recommending security measures to address various scenarios based on factors such as efficiency, feasibility, and ethical impacts.

Data Science and Analytics Participants  (three [3] teams of two to three [2-3] individuals per state) conduct research on an annual theme or topic, collect data, and document their research in a supporting portfolio and a display. Participants implement a variety of methods to find connections between data, and gain insightful knowledge about a particular issue. Using analytics, participants assess collected data to make predictions and informed decisions. Semifinalist teams report for a timed, onsite challenge in which they must review specific data sets, provide insights, make predictions, and present their findings.   

Digital Photography Participants (three [3] individuals per state) produce a digital portfolio addressing an annual theme posted on the Themes and Problems page. Participants submit the entry pre-conference by May 15th. Semifinalists announced onsite at the annual conference. Semifinalists participate in a timed challenge, which includes digital photographs taken and edited onsite. Semifinalists demonstrate their knowledge of digital photography in a presentation/interview.

Dragster Participants (two [2] individuals per chapter) design and produce a race-worthy CO2-powered dragster according to stated specifications, using only specified materials. Special design requirements will be posted on Themes and Problems.

Electrical Applications Participants (one [1] team of two [2] individuals per chapter) take a written test on basic electrical and electronic theory. Semifinalists assemble a specific circuit from a schematic diagram using their own kit, make required electrical measurements, and explain their solution during an interview.

Essays on Technology Participants (three [3] individuals per state) conduct research on specified subtopics of a broader technological area and, using the knowledge and resources gained through that research, write a comprehensive essay on one subtopic that is designated onsite.

Foundations of Information Technology Participants (two [2] individuals per chapter) complete a examination covering essential IT skills and knowledge needed to perform tasks commonly performed by all levels of IT professionals. Semifinalists exhibit proficiency and demonstrate creative problem solving by applying techniques to troubleshoot an industry-related challenge.

Flight Participants (two [2] individuals per chapter) study the principles of flight and design in order to fabricate a glider that stays in flight for the greatest elapsed time. The glider must be designed to be launched from a catapult that is provided onsite. The design process is documented in a portfolio that is submitted for evaluation.

Forensic Technology Participants (one [1] team of two [2] individuals per chapter) take a written test of basic forensic science theory to qualify as semifinalists. Semifinalists participate in a skills demonstration onsite.

Inventions and Innovations Participants (one [1] team of at least three [3] individuals per chapter; one [1] entry per team) investigate and determine the need for an invention or innovation of a device, system, or process, and brainstorm ideas for a possible solution. Teams prepare an interactive display and model/prototype. Semifinalists make an oral presentation to a panel of judges (who act as venture capitalist investors) to persuade the panel to invest in their invention/innovation.

Junior Solar Sprint (JSS) Participants (one [1] team of two to four [2–4] per chapter) apply STEM concepts, creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving skills as they design, construct, and race a solar-powered model car.

Leadership Strategies Participants (three [3] teams of three [3] individuals per state) demonstrate leadership and team skills by preparing a presentation based on a selected challenge the officers of a TSA chapter might encounter.

Mass Production Participants (one [1] team of at least two [2] individuals) manufacture a marketable product related to the current year’s theme, which can be found on Themes and Problems. The team submits a documentation portfolio of the activities involved and three identical products made during the manufacturing process.

Mechanical Engineering Participants (one [1] team of at least three [3] individuals per chapter; one [1] entry per team) design and build a mechanical device to solve the problem statement for the identified theme. Teams identify and research an engineering process and construct a mechanical system that can be used to address the problem statement. Semifinalists participate in a presentation/interview. 

Medical Technology Participants (three [3] teams of at least two [2] individuals per state; one [1] entry per team) conduct research on a contemporary medical technology issue of their choosing, document their research within a display, and design a prototype depicting a medical technology solution. Semifinalists participate in a presentation.

Microcontroller Design Participants (one [1] team per chapter; entries may be submitted by an individual or a team) develop a working digital device (product) with real-world applications. Through a product demonstration and documentation, the team demonstrates knowledge of microcontroller programming, simple circuitry, and product design and marketing. The project should have educational and social value, and conform to the theme for the year, which can be found on Themes and Problems. Semifinalists demonstrate and promote their work in a presentation.

Off the Grid Participants (three [3] teams per state) conduct research on a sustainable architectural design for a home in a country of the team's choosing (other than their home country), and document their findings in a display and a model. The model can be of the home designed by the team, or of a specific aspect of their design. Semifinalist teams give a presentation and are interviewed about their design. The design brief can be found on the Themes and Problems page.

Prepared Speech Participants (three [3] individuals per state) deliver a speech that reflects the theme of the current year’s National TSA Conference. The current year's topics can be found on the Themes and Problems page.

Problem Solving Participants (one [1] team of two [2] individuals per chapter) use problem solving skills to develop a finite solution to a problem provided onsite.

Promotional Marketing Participants (one [1] individual per chapter) create a portfolio of marketing tools. Participants submit the entries pre-conference by May 15th. Semifinalists are announced onsite at the annual National TSA conference. Semifinalists work creatively under constraints to design a solution to a problem given onsite, using their own computer/laptop work station. Semifinalist entries will be saved to the individual's event USB drive (provided by TSA) for judging. The current year's topics can be found on the Themes and Problems page.

STEM Animation Participants (three [3] teams per state) use computer graphics tools and design processes (i.e., animation) to communicate, inform, analyze, and/or illustrate a topic, idea, subject, or concept that focuses on one (1) or more of the following areas: science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Sound may accompany graphic images. Participants submit the entry pre-conference by May 15th. Semifinalists are announced onsite at the annual conference. Semifinalists participate in an onsite presentation. The current year's topics can be found on the Themes and Problems page.

Structural Engineering Participants (one [1] team of two [2] individuals per chapter) apply the principles of structural design and engineering through basic research, design, construction, and destructive testing to determine the design efficiency of a structure. The onsite semifinalist problem will be a variation of the pre-conference problem. The design brief can be found on the Themes and Problems page.

System Control Technology Participants (one [1] team of three [3] individuals per state) use a team approach to develop a computer-controlled model solution to a given problem, typically one based on an industrial setting. Teams analyze the problem, build a computer-controlled mechanical model, program the model, explain the program and mechanical features of the model-solution, and leave instructions for judges to operate the device.

Tech Bowl Participants (one [1] team of three [3] individuals per chapter) demonstrate their knowledge of TSA and concepts addressed in the technology content standards by completing a written objective test. Semifinalist teams participate in a question/response, head-to-head competition.

Technical Design Participants (one [1] team of two [2] individuals per chapter) demonstrate their ability to use the technical design process to solve an engineering design problem onsite and present the team’s solution in a portfolio at the conference.

Video Game Design Participants (one [1] team of two to six [2–6] individuals per chapter) develop, build, and launch an E-rated, online game that focuses on the subject of their choice. The game should be interesting, exciting, visually appealing, and intellectually challenging. Participants submit the entry pre-conference by May 15th. Semifinalists are announced onsite at the annual conference. Semifinalist teams participate in an onsite interview to demonstrate the knowledge and expertise they gained during the development of the game.

Website Design Participants (one [1] team of three to six [3–6] individuals per chapter) design, build, and launch a website that features the team's ability to incorporate the elements of website design, graphic layout, and proper coding techniques. Participants submit the entry pre-conference by May 15th. Semifinalists are announced onsite at the annual conference. Semifinalists participate in an onsite conference interview, with an emphasis on web design as it pertains to their solution, to demonstrate the knowledge and expertise gained during the development of the website. The design brief can be found on the Themes and Problems page.