Middle School – AI Contest Activities

Satellite in space with backlit Earth behind it

If you have not yet registered your school or team with the National Office  STOP– go to this link to register now so that we have a contact person for the school or team. The registration has to be associated with a teacher, parent, or coordinator’s email address.

Middle School AI Contest

This contest will focus on designing solutions to problems using space image data and other information collected by satellites and telescopes. The guiding question is, “Can satellites spy on you?”. In addition to technical solutions, students will critically examine the ethical considerations surrounding the use of space images and satellite data for potential solutions. Students will learn the engineering design process for problem-solving. There are no programming aspects for the middle school students.

Potential examples of national problems for the AI competition include utilizing spy satellites in space for facial recognition or image recognition (for more information, you can refer to this article.) Another compelling area of focus could involve leveraging space satellites to improve the quality of people’s lives. Breakthroughs in machine learning applied to satellite images have showcased exciting possibilities in this regard (check out this article for details).

Modules and Topics for the Monthly Activities

  1. Module 1: What is Intelligence?
  2. Module 2: How do computers build intelligence?
  3. Module 3: What are the types of satellite and space telescope data?
  4. Module 4: How can programming and data be used to build intelligence in computers to recognize objects from space?
  5. Module 5: The National AI Contest Background and Overview

Expectations and Requirements

  • Teams must complete ALL modules to be eligible for the contest.
  • Each module will take the team between 3-5 hours.
  • Ability to understand the kinds of data coming into the computer from the space satellite or telescope.
  • Ability to create an engineering design process to assess the problem and design a possible solution.
  • Ability to design an AI solution to solve a problem using data from space satellites or space telescopes.
  • Understanding the ethics behind using the data and within the proposed solution.
  • Students will design a 10-slide/15-minute presentation about their proposed solution during the national contest.
  • Teams are restricted to two members.
  • The deadline to finish all the modules is April 30th.

Submission Requirements

Each Module will have a Qualtrics website submission link and survey. One person from each team will submit the team submission, but each team member who worked on the Module must submit a survey.

  • Loaded files should be in Word, PDF, PowerPoint, Canva (share), or Google files.
  • Additional resources or websites used should be documented in the files.
  • Plagiarism of code or materials is prohibited and will result in disqualification.


  • Presentation of the problem and ethical issues for the problem– 20%
  • Engineering design presentation – 70%
  • Organization, language/grammar, presentation skills – 10%