The first time I saw the name of this competition I envisioned a big machine with a huge crank arm being industriously twisted around and around by a horde of scientists in white lab coats. And although I got the details wrong (lab coats are optional!) the basic idea, people working together to achieve something big, was accurate.
The NSF 2026 Idea Machine is a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering. Participants can earn prizes and receive public recognition by suggesting the pressing research questions that need to be answered in the coming decade, the next set of “Big Ideas” for future investment by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It's an opportunity for researchers, the public and other interested stakeholders to contribute to NSF's mission to support basic research and enable new discoveries that drive the U.S. economy, enhance national security and advance knowledge to sustain the country's global leadership in science and engineering. The competition is framed around the year 2026 to tie in with the Nation's 250th anniversary.
Ok, so I need to come up with a Big Idea to participate! What is a "Big Idea" you ask? The criteria for a Big Idea and a list of Big Ideas that are already being pursued are on the NSF 2026 Idea Machine webpage, and since I was looking for inspiration, I took a look. The NSF is already working on: Harnessing the Data Revolution, Understanding the Rules of Life, Prediction Phenotype, to name a few. No Small Ideas here!
I have to say I am still thinking about my idea, I am sure I can come up with a good one. However, since the Deadline is October 26, 2018, anyone who wants to enter better do so soon! Individuals, teams, or high school classes (submitted by their teachers on their behalf) can enter. Good Luck!