Download the COMPETITION PACKET and check out other resources for proposal preparation.

PDF Proposal

Must follow these rules to be compliant:

  • Be in English.
  • Be on letter-sized paper (8.5-by-11 inch).
  • Be a maximum of four or fewer single-sided pages.
  • Be submitted as a PDF.
  • Address all rubric sections.
  • Include at least one original diagram/sketch/rendering of your exhibit (included in page count).
  • Be blind, with no information identifying your school.
  • Not include hyperlinks to additional content.

Want to check out the full potential build-out area at Science City? Watch the video to the right to see the exhibit space.

Download the full Competition Packet.


Must follow these rules to be compliant:

  • Serve as a commercial for the exhibit.
  • Be in English.
  • Be no longer than two minutes.

Download the full Competition Packet.

Working on developing your video commercial? This video from last cycle’s Awards Ceremony features video commercial clips from the Top 20. (Clips begin at 1:00.)

Big Idea Generation

Need a little guidance helping your students develop their big idea? Use these interactive exercises in your classroom to get the brainstorming rolling.

  • Dreaming the Big Idea — How is your students’ exhibit Different, Relevant, Explorative, Aware and Memorable?
  • Judging the Big Idea — You be the judge! Look at sample proposals from previous competition cycles. How would your students have scored them?
  • Storming to the Big Idea — A yes/and exercise that helps your students build upon ideas from other sources.



Couldn’t make a Battle Plan Teacher Info Session? Catch up with Battle Plan Slide Deck or watch a recording of a recent session.

FAQs and Fine Print

What schools are eligible?

Every elementary and secondary school — including public, private, parochial or home-based schools — in the following Kansas City area counties are eligible: Atchison, Bates, Buchanan, Caldwell, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Douglas, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson (Kansas), Johnson (Missouri), Lafayette, Leavenworth, Livingston, Miami, Platte, Ray, Shawnee and Wyandotte. There is no limit to the number of entries a school may submit. The same teacher may lead multiple teams.

Our private school is kindergarten through 12th grade. Can we submit entries in both divisions?

Yes, you may submit entries in both divisions. A school may submit an unlimited number of entries.

What can the grant money be used for?

The Burns & McDonnell Foundation will work with each winning school group to develop a plan on how to use the grant to encourage STEM education at each school.

What if a home-based school wins?

The Burns & McDonnell Foundation will work with the entrants to devise a plan to support STEM education in all area home-based schools.

What criteria do the judges use to select the finalists?

Entries will be judged on Creativity and Inspiration, Interactive Exhibit Engagement, Relevancy and Constructability. We encourage teams to follow the competition rubric, which outlines how to achieve the highest number of points in each category.

Can we modify ideas from existing exhibits in other museums and science centers?

It’s certainly acceptable to choose a general topic that’s already the focus of an exhibit elsewhere. But be mindful that creativity accounts for a large number of points in the judging process, so be sure your group is thinking as creatively as possible to distinguish your exhibit design from what already exists.

Can we cover a topic that’s already featured in an exhibit at Science City?

Any topic is eligible, as long as it’s related to STEM. However, it’s a smart strategy to avoid repetition by understanding what STEM learnings are already on offer in Science City — especially in exhibits that resulted from Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains.

Can only students vote?

Anyone with a valid email address can vote once per email address per day, so spread the word!

How many votes do I get?

Every email address can vote once per day.

I'm an interested parent. How can I help my child?

Your child will benefit from your enthusiasm and support. It will be beneficial to review the competition rules and details to understand how it works. It's important that your student get the greatest educational benefit from the competition by performing the necessary work independently, but there are some basic ways all parents can help. You can help your student understand the expectations of the competition and provide an organized environment for your child to work. Answer questions when asked but don't hover, and try to provide answers that encourage the child to think further. Most importantly, you can offer praise and enthusiasm for their hard work!


You know how engineers are meticulous and detailed-oriented? You should see our lawyers. Here’s what they want you to see: 

The Fine Print
  • Schools may submit multiple entries in both divisions. Proposals must reflect students’ own research, writing and original thinking. If necessary, by school rules, permission to submit an entry must be obtained from the superintendent or school board.
  • By making a submission, the entrant agrees to abide by all competition rules. In consideration of the grant award, all entrants agree that any ideas, components, graphics or concepts may be used in whole or in part in the exhibit, even if the entrant is not declared a winner. Use of any portion of an entrant’s design shall not entitle the entrant to a winners’ grant amount.
  • The Burns & McDonnell Foundation is not responsible for entries not received due to lost, failed, delayed or interrupted connections or miscommunications, and/or other delivery malfunctions. Furthermore, the foundation is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate entry information, whether caused by persons entering information or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the competition or by any human error that may occur in the processing of the entries in this competition. The contents may be used for promotion, editorial, advertising, marketing and other similar purposes without further notice or any compensation. Entrants must certify that all information is true and be willing to provide verification.
  • The Burns & McDonnell Foundation reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this competition for any reason beyond the control of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation that corrupts the administration, security or proper operation of the competition. The foundation also reserves its right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any entrant it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the competition or to be acting in violation of the rules or otherwise in a disruptive manner.
  • Entrants agree by making a submission that the ideas, concepts and graphics included in the design are original and the result of independent creative thought and do not infringe upon any property rights of others, including any patents, trademarks or copyrights.
  • The Burns & McDonnell Foundation reserves its right to modify the rules without materially affecting the terms and conditions hereof. Entrants have the responsibility to check the competition website by September 17, 2021 for any updates to the rules.
  • By entering this competition, the entrants automatically agree to accept and abide by these rules. All decisions of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation with respect to any aspect of this competition, including without limitation the eligibility of entries, are final and binding on all entrants in all matters as they relate to this competition.
  • Entrants agree that the Burns & McDonnell Foundation has the sole right to determine the winners of the competition and all matters or disputes arising from the competition and that its determination is final and binding. It is solely at the discretion of the foundation to judge the degree to which an entry is competitive with other entries, as well as whether it meets eligibility rules. The foundation reserves the right to declare no winners for this competition.
  • No award substitutions, modifications or transfers are permitted after the deadline for submissions except for good cause and at the sole discretion of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation. Any federal, state and local taxes on prizes/awards are the sole responsibility of the winners.
  • All entries become the property of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation and will not be returned. Any information submitted by an entrant may be used in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition and publication regardless of final determination of winners. In addition, a selection of entries may be retained, with all school-specific identification deleted, for use as representative examples for improving future processing of entries.
  • The Burns & McDonnell Foundation and Science City reserve the right to construct any submitted entries in the top 20, now or in the future, in whole or in part, regardless of the amount of the cash prize awarded.
  • Winners may be required to complete and return a nondisclosure agreement and an affidavit of eligibility and confirmation of originality/copyright release. The name and likeness of finalists may be used in promotions about the awards without compensation.
  • All intellectual property, including but not limited to trademarks, trade names, logos, designs, promotional materials, webpages, source codes, drawings, illustrations, slogans and representations contained in the submissions of entrants shall become the property of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized copying or use of any copyrighted material or intellectual property without the express written consent of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation is strictly prohibited.
  • All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited.