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The Vizzies


Frequently Asked Questions

If you have additional questions not answered here or in the Participants’ Guide, please contact us at

Q: Do I have to be a scientist, engineer or researcher to participate?
A: No. The contest is open to all. All that is required is an interest in science or engineering and that your entry be based on a STEM principle.

Q: I am a high school student. May I participate?
A: Only if you are over the age of 18 at the time the Vizzies Challenge is launched.

Q: What can I submit? What kind of things would be appropriate?
A: Please review the "Eligibility Criteria" and "Rules" pages for specific information. We encourage you to be creative and submit your entry!

Q: What exactly do you mean by "visualization"?
A: Entries should show and explain some aspect of the world that people don't typically see. This can be a unique viewpoint (e.g., extreme magnification), non-obvious relationships, "impossible" views (e.g., standing inside the sun), extra-sensory views (e.g., X-ray photographs of galaxies), etc.

Q: What characterizes a winning entry?
A: Entries are scored based on visual impact, effective communication and originality. Winning entries should also include thorough and thought provoking answers to the entry form questions. See the "Judging Criteria" page for more information.

Q: Do I have to be NSF-funded to submit an entry?
A: No. You do not have to be (or have been) NSF-funded to submit an entry.

Q: I am from a foreign country. Can I submit an entry?
A: Foreign participants must be part of a team and the team lead must be a U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident. Foreign students will not receive a monetary prize if they are part of a winning team. Monetary prizes will be distributed to team leads.

Q: May I submit custom code that I have written?
A: No. Unfortunately, we don't have the resources or manpower to compile/install custom software or the time to ramp up on running your particular simulation.

Q: I have custom code that I ported to Windows and it has a compliant Windows Install Shield, so can I submit that?
A: No. For the same reason as cited in the previous question.

Q: I have some media produced on an SGI workstation. Is that OK to submit?
A: Not if we need an SGI workstation to view it. Unless otherwise noted, we do not accept entries unless they can be reviewed in a PC environment.

Q: May I submit Photoshop or QuarkXPress files?
A: No. Please submit your images as a JPG, JPEG, GIF, BMP or PNG file.

Q: Is PowerPoint OK?
A: No. PowerPoint decreases image quality and is primarily used for presentation purposes.

Q: Can I resubmit an entry this year that didn't win last year?
A: Yes.

Q: Am I eligible to win this year if I have won in previous years?
A: If you have won within the last three years, you will not be able to win this year. However, if you won for an individual entry, you may submit a team project and if you won for a team project, you may submit an individual entry.

Q: Do works need to be submitted in English?
A: Yes. However, videos narrated in a foreign language are acceptable if English subtitles are included.

Q: What are the file size restrictions for my entry?
A: Files should not exceed 50 MB.

Q: When does the clock start for the five-minute evaluation period allowed for Video and Interactive entries?
A: The five minutes begin when actual game play or video viewing starts. Videos and Interactives will ONLY be evaluated based on the first five minutes of running time, regardless of the length of the entry. We recommend that if your video is longer than five minutes, a five-minute cut-down of the video with the five minutes of film that best represent your project be submitted rather than the long-form entry.

Q: Are multi-player game entries allowed in the Interactive category?
A: Yes, but only if single-player participation is also possible.

Q: What is meant by “Apps” in the Interactive category?
A: For the purposes of the challenge, an “app” is software that can be installed on a device operating on the Microsoft Windows, iOS or Android platforms, such as an iPad, tablet, smartphone or personal computer.

Q: Who are the Expert Judges?
A: The Expert Judges are scientists, engineers, researchers and media experts who can provide comment on both the scientific and visual merits of the submissions.

Q: Do you provide judges’ feedback on entries?
A: Due to the volume of entries received, we cannot provide feedback.

Q: What if I sell copies of my visualization on my website? Can I still submit my entry?
A: Yes. You still maintain copyright over your work, but by submitting an entry you give NSF, Popular Science and the right to use your name and entry for educational, promotional, social media and other uses as it is submitted. Please see contest rules for more information.