Sustainability Institute Student Challenge

Exclusively Sponsored by Bergen Community College & SUEZ

Sustianability Institute 2017  Student Challenge & Hackathon (PDF)

Question: How can you use ordinary everyday objects or processes to filter heavy metals from water?

The Sustainability Institute Middle & High School Hackathon is a high-energy, collaborative event that seeks to bring together a diverse group of the student community to explore key issues and challenges on a particular subject related to Sustainability and to ponder solutions to everyday problems using STEM,(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), in the process.  The goals of our program are to raise sustainability understanding, promote opportunities for environmental stewardship and increase awareness on the importance of preserving our resources.

Rules and Regulations:

The Hackathon consists of student and school group competitions in grades 7-12.  Each group can be composed of a single grade level or mixed grade levels as follows:  7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11and 12.  Each competing student will receive a certificate of participation.  Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place winners the grade levels listed including “Best in Show.” Each participating student must indicate a school coordinator or parent contact person on the registration form. Entries are accepted from schools or other parents/guardian groups.   Each group is limited to one entry all student work is to take place at the event, no advance work is permitted.


Students are encouraged to bring their own personal computers and flash drives, our conference center is Wi-Fi enabled.  A PC will be located on the podium along with a projector for presentation of digital submissions. Presentation of each group submission can be in a digital format, or submitted in a written or graphic format using the provided materials.  Groups will be seated together and will receive the following items to use during the event:

  • Pens
  • Colored Markers
  • Note Pad
  • Poster Board

Anticipated Schedule of Events:

5:30 p.m. – 5:40 p.m. – Registration & Check in

5:40 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. – Welcome to the First Hackathon!

5:45 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. – Pizza and Refreshments & Educational Presentation

6:15 p.m. – 6:25 p.m. – 10 Minute Break

6:25 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Presentation of Hack Question

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  – Start Hacking!

8:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.  – 15 Minute Snack Break

8:15 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.  – Student Project Presentations, one Presenter per group 2 minutes each group

9:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.  – Judges Deliberate & Educational Presentation

9:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – Presentation of Awards


We value and encourage the participation of each member of the student community and want all attendees to have an enjoyable and fulfilling experience.  Accordingly, all attendees are expected to show respect and courtesy to other attendees throughout the Hackathon.  To make clear what is expected, all attendees at this Hackathon are required to conform to the following Bergen Community College Code of Conduct indicated below. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event.

Code of Conduct:

Student Code Of Conduct Bergen Community College, in this Code will be referred to as the College, is committed to providing a campus environment that is conducive to academic inquiry in the College tradition. Bergen is a comprehensive, teaching College that exists to foster inquiry and public discourse. At Bergen, student members of the community are expected to abide by certain standards of conduct that form the basis of the Student Code of Conduct [this Code] and ensure that their visitors do likewise. These standards are embodied within a set of core values that include integrity, fairness, respect, community, and responsibility. When students fail to adhere to this Code or community standards, appropriate proceedings may be initiated under this Code to address the failure and its consequences. This Code is provided to give students a general notice of prohibited conduct. This Code has not been designed to set forth an exhaustive list of misconduct, but to establish behavioral guidelines. It is the responsibility of all students to become familiar with this Code. Participants asked to stop any behavior deemed inappropriate and are expected to comply immediately. If participants fail to comply they will be asked to leave the event

For additional information please refer to the following web link:


  • 1st Place, 2nd Place, 3rd Place – grades 7 and 8
  • 1st Place, 2nd Place, 3rd Place – grades 9 and 10
  • 1st Place, 2nd Place, 3rd Place – grades 11 and 12

Prizes Awarded:

  • 1st Place: $100
  • 2nd Place: $50
  • 3rd Place: $25

Judging Criteria:

Is it functional? (25%)

  • Does it accomplish its stated goal?
  • Does it work as is, or does it require additional resources/items?
  • Does it use any new technology?
  • Can it be used anywhere, on a local, regional or global scale?

Is it intuitive? (25%)

  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is it creative?
  • Can it be fabricated form ordinary everyday objects?

Is it impactful? (25%)

  • Does it solve a real problem?
  • How many people does it impact (few/many)?

Is it viable? (25%)

  • Would anyone be able to use it?
  • Is it economically and environmentally feasible?
  • Does it create biodegradable waste?
  • Can it be produced?