The Rules

The Challenge

Step 1: Register to enter by March 1, 2016. Click HERE to learn how to register. You can enter by yourself or in a team of up to 5 people, but all team members must register individually.

Step 2: Think of a community problem you want to solve. It can be in one of two categories – a community development problem faced by large groups of people and/or underserved populations in the City of Chicago (for example, a health care problem that largely affects low income or minority communities or a transit problem faced by lots of Chicago commuters) OR a problem that people with disabilities face in their daily lives (for example, a problem students who are blind have using text messaging or people in wheelchairs have knowing which ramps or elevators aren’t working).You can get some ideas HERE.

Step 3: Create a hardware, software or combined (hardware+software) technology solution that solves the problem you’ve identified. You’ll need to make some kind of design of the solution. This could be a model, sample, sketch, computer design or some other interesting visual that gives the judges a good idea of what your technology would look like if it worked. Developing a working prototype is not necessary to win the competition. It is more important to have an well-crafted visual representation that demonstrates an understanding of your solution, as well as being able to articulate its strength and innovation. 

Step 4: Create and send a 1- 5 minute video to show us your project by May 6, 2016. Video files should be sent to A panel of judges from Motorola and partner organizations will review all the videos and determine which two finalist individuals or teams from each division will move to Round 2 and compete live in the Chicago Maker Challenge Showcase on May 26, 2016. Your video must have ALL of the below:

  • The name of your project or design
  • The problem your project is trying to solve and which community you’re trying to help: the larger Chicago community, people with disabilities or a specific underserved population (low-income, minority, LGBT, etc. communities)
  • How your project solves this problem in a new and creative way, and how it impacts the community you’re targeting
  • A description and presentation of your design, including what it would do, special features it would have, and any other information to explain how your project and Design would work
  • What you learned about: the target community and the problems they face, hardware, software, programming, the “maker” movement, team building or anything else
  • A brief introduction of every member of the team



Who Can Enter

The Challenge is open to all students, grades 5-12, who live or go to school in the City of Chicago. Students will compete in one of four divisions:

Middle School Divisions

(grades 5-8)

  • Community Solution (solving a community problem)
  • Accessibility and Universal Design (making the world more accessible for people with disabilities)

High School Divisions

(grades 9-12)

  • Community Solution
  • Accessibility and Universal Design

You can sign up by yourself or sign up with your friends and form a team of up to 5. It’s up to you. If you sign up as part of a team, each member of the team must register. One starter kit is provided per team, not per individual (teams must collaborate and share starter kits).

Employees or family members of employees of the Motorola Foundation, Motorola Mobility, the Chicago Public Library, Citizen Schools and their parent entities, affiliates and subsidiaries are not eligible to participate.


  • We’ll give you a starter kit with resources for your project. You can pick up these kits beginning February 11, 2016 at the Harold Washington Library Center YOUMedia location. You must be registered for the Maker Challenge in order to receive a kit. Computers are available to register for the Challenge and pick up a kit in the same visit. Be sure to take care of your kit because we will not be able to replace lost, stolen or damaged kits. Students participating in the Challenge through Citizen Schools will get their kits from the Citizen Schools program team.
  • If you’re interested in working with a mentor throughout the Challenge, we will match you with a Motorola or Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering mentor. Just email with the subject line: “I need a mentor!”
  • Middle School students can visit the Chicago Public Library Harold Washington YOUMedia site unless otherwise arranged with Chicago Public Library staff.
  • High School students can visit the Chicago Public Library YOUMedia site at the Harold Washington Library Center.
  • All YOUMedia sites have computers, laptops, video and photography equipment, and software you can use to help you create your project and staff who can you help you learn how to use it.
  • Students 14 ages and up can also visit the Chicago Public Library Maker Lab, which has all sorts of great maker tools like 3D printers, laser cutters and staff to help you use them.
  • All students should use the Maker Manual as a reference and resource for the Maker Challenge.

What NOT to do

  • You can be eliminated from the challenge for including false, sexually explicit, violent, profane, illegal or hateful information or activity in your registration, project videos or Showcase presentations.
  • Make sure you don’t promote any specific products or show any company logos in your videos or presentations.
  • Don’t plagiarize or use existing technologies as your own solution.
  • Make sure you don’t include any photos, recordings or names of people who aren’t on your team unless you get their permission.