S^4 Super Summer Science Search™ 2016 Contest

Official Rules for Entering

S^4 Super Summer Science Searches Contest for Cupertino Middle School Students

Open to all outgoing 6th-8th graders residing in the Cupertino Union School District (CUSD). Registration opens May 1, 2016 and ends June 30, 2016.

Sponsored by the Cupertino Library Foundation in conjunction with the Cupertino Library and the CUSD.

The Cupertino Library Foundation’s 2016 S^4 Super Summer Science Search Contest™ is open to outgoing 6th-8th graders in the Cupertino Unified School District (CUSD).

Qualified students may enter individually, or in teams with up to 3 total qualifying students on a team. Each student must complete his or her own registration, regardless of whether they are on a team.


Click Here to Register Now!


 S^4 Super Summer Science Search Links


The Official 2016 S^4 Super Summer Science Search Contest Prompt

The President of the United States calls you and your team of top scientists into the Oval Office and tells you the country’s cities are facing major challenges that must be solved. The President says you must:

  1. Choose any city in the country you want to help. This could be where you live now, or a city you want to live in one day, or     a city you are curious about.
  2. Choose a challenge facing that city from one of the following areas:

      Energy efficiency


      Living spaces

      Or a challenge for which you have created a solution that is totally new and innovative

  1. Design a creative, forward-thinking scientific solution for the challenge. Clearly state the problem you are solving, your solution, and why you believe it will help your city.

The President reminds the team that in the past communities have created new solutions to grapple with major challenges. For example:

      1800s: Mass transit like subways and light rails were developed to help transport large numbers of people, in response to a population boom

      Late 1800s: Skyscrapers were designed to conserve space on the ground and house more people vertically

      Cures for diseases or new tests were created to stop public health crises, such as the polio vaccine, developed in the 1950s in response to a large outbreak of the crippling disease

      1970s: A need for new energy sources led to increased development of solar energy

These are just a few examples of how past challenges were tackled. The President wants all new solutions for 21st-century issues.

Are you up to the task? What is your answer to the President? Be as creative as possible and help your city and its future!



Registration for the contest is from May 1, 2016 through June 30, 2016. You must register by 11:59 p.m., PDT, June 30, 2016, to be a part of the contest.

The deadline to submit your contest entry is between July 1, 2016, and 11:59 p.m., PDT, July 30, 2016.

A link to submit your entry will be made available to all qualified registrants on July 1, 2016.

See more deadline and award ceremony information at the end of this page.

Study Sessions

There are five study sessions staffed by high school and adult volunteers between May 7 and July 23, to help contestants understand how to prepare their entries, and to answer any questions they may have.

Please see our Study Session page for times and dates.



The Cupertino Library Foundation’s S^4 Super Summer Science Search Contest™ is open to outgoing 6th-8th graders residing within the CUSD.

Participants agree to abide by the terms of these official rules and by the decisions of the Cupertino Library Foundation, which are final and binding on all matters pertaining to the contest.

Participants under the age of 18 must obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian to enter the contest.  See official contest rules for entering.

The Cupertino Library Foundation reserves the right to disqualify any participant that it determines, in its sole discretion, is ineligible to participate in the contest. Employees, officers, and directors, (and their immediate family members and members of the same households, whether related or not) of the Cupertino Library Foundation or the Santa Clara County Library District, and judges of this contest, are not eligible to participate.


Contest Requirements

  1. A 3-5 page MLA-formatted electronic report. (Answer all the Contest Prompt questions.)*
  2. An MLA-formatted Works Cited of ALL the research resources used.*

Note: For the purposes of blind judging, do not use your name at the top of your documents. For individuals, use your report name; for teams, use your team name. Use this link to format your paper in MLA automatically.

  1. Use at least 3 SCCLD databases.
  2. A typed journal. (Submitted electronically; up to 5 pages.)
  3. A presentation type of your choice – video, slideshow, audio, Prezi, website, etc. (No more than five minutes in length.)
  4. Entries must be submitted online and completed forms must be received by 11:59 pm PDT on July 30, 2016.**

Participants must produce their own original work.

*Your written report and works cited should follow MLA (Modern Language Association) format as defined on Purdue OWL website. Use this link to format your paper in MLA automatically.

*Your written report and works cited should follow MLA (Modern Language Association) format as defined on Purdue OWL website.

**Entries without the necessary consent of a parent or legal guardian will not be accepted.

Any fraudulent information provided by participants will lead to immediate disqualification from the contest. All submitted entries will become the property of the Cupertino Library Foundation and will not be returned. All winning entries may be reproduced and distributed in the Cupertino Library Foundation’s or Santa Clara County Library District’s publications, as well as posted on their respective websites. Winning entries may be used in other ways as determined by the Cupertino Library Foundation, that such use would advance its mission. The Cupertino Library Foundation reserves the right to edit all entries used in any of its publications or posted on its website.


No purchase is necessary, and there is no fee to enter or to win.

Steps for electronic submission:

1. Reread the contest requirements to confirm that your project is complete and ready to submit.

2. Entries are to be in any of the following formats (DO NOT SEND ZIP FILES):

  • Word (.docx, .doc)
  • PowerPoint (.pptx, .ppt)
  • Acrobat PDF (.pdf)
  • Text (.txt)
  • Keynote
  • Prezi
  • Common video formats such as .avi and .mov

3. Name your files using the following syntax:

  • For individuals, use your project title as one word: projecttitle_report_2016, projecttitle_citings_2016, projecttitle_ journal_2016, projecttitle_presentation_2016
  • For teams: teamname_report_2016, teamname_citings_2016, teamname_journal_2016, teamname_presentation_2016

4. Submit your files using the instructions that will be sent to you on July 1.



Santa Clara County Library District and the Cupertino Library Foundation representatives will select first place, second place and third place winners (teams or individuals).

Judging Criteria

All entries will be judged according to the criteria listed below.

1. Understanding of the topic: An outstanding entry will clearly convey the participant/team’s extensive research and analysis concerning their chosen topic. Entries must address the questions of the Contest Prompt. Creativity is emphasized and students are encouraged to innovatively go beyond these requirements:

  • How your topic and solution relates to science.
  • The research and critical thinking skills used to support your proposed solution.
  • The clarity, creativity and originality of your presentation.

2. Originality: Participants are fully expected to conduct their own research. Entries should display the participant’s ability to thoughtfully construct an argument and effectively develop unique, cogent, and cohesive ideas.

3. Clarity and effectiveness of style and organization: Entries should be grammatically correct and accurate in terms of spelling, word usage and general terminology. Report should be clear and written in a logical manner.

4. Adherence to entry requirements: Entries must adhere to the following rules as stated in link

  • Research Report – 3-5 pages
  • Works Cited of ALL research sources used
  • At least three (3) SCCLD databases used
  • Journal – up to 5 pages
  • Choice of Presentation—no more than five minutes in length

All entries must submit a completed official entry form, which includes parental consent if the participant is under the age of 18. The entry form must list the names of all participants.


First Place Team: iPad mini each for up to three team members

Second Place Team: $100 each for up to three team members

Third Place Team: $50 each for up to three team members

Celebration Gathering and certificates for the top 15 teams and their families

The winning entries may be published online and in the Cupertino Library Foundation’s or in the Santa Clara County Library District’s newsletters. In addition, each of the winners, along with two parents/legal guardians each, will receive an invitation to attend an awards ceremony to be held on Saturday, August 13, 2016 in Cupertino (times and location will be made available to invited teams). All prizes are non-transferable, and no substitutions are allowed except by the Cupertino Library Foundation.



Winners will be selected by on or about August 7, 2016 and notified by telephone. If a winner cannot confirm acceptance within 2 calendar days of first notification attempt, if the winner rejects his/her prize, or in the event of noncompliance with these contest rules and requirements, such prize will be forfeited, and an alternate winner will be selected by the Cupertino Library Foundation.


Participation in this contest and acceptance of a prize constitutes the winner’s and his/her parents’ permission for the Cupertino Library Foundation and Santa Clara County Library District to use his/her name, age, school, likeness, photograph, picture, portrait, voice, biographical information, essay, and/or any statements made by each winner regarding this contest for advertising and promotional purposes without notice or additional compensation, except where prohibited by law. By entering, participants and winners agree to release and hold harmless the Cupertino Library Foundation and Santa Clara County Library District and their employees, officers, and directors, from any and all liability for loss, harm, damage, injury, cost, or expense whatsoever, including without limitation, property damage, personal injury, and/or death, which may occur in connection with participation in this contest or any contest-related activity, or possession, acceptance, and/or use or misuse of a prize and for any claims based on publicity rights, defamation, or invasion of privacy and merchandise delivery. There is no purchase or entry fee required to participate.


Limitation of Liability

The Cupertino Library Foundation reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest, as well as to disqualify any individual who violates any rules of the contest.



Contest registration must be submitted between May 1, 2016 and June 30, 2016.

Registered students must submit their entry online by 11:59 p.m., PDT, on July 30, 2016. You will receive specific instructions on how to submit on July 1.

Winners will be notified on or about August 7, 2016.

Winners will be announced publicly and presented with their prizes at a special awards ceremony the afternoon of Saturday, August 13, 2016 (time to be announced).


© 2016 Cupertino Library Foundation. All rights reserved.