EOL Education Innovation Challenge


The EOL Education Innovation Challenge is an international competition that aims to stimulate the development and implementation of educational software tools, services, games and activities involving the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). 

The competition seeks to highlight the most scalable and innovative applications that facilitate learning, participation, and the sharing of information about biodiversity, ecological relationships, and natural history. Target audiences can include the general public, citizen scientists, and learners of all ages in both formal and informal settings. Entries should make use of EOL content, tools and services and be designed for use on the web and/or mobile devices.

Founded in 2007, the Encyclopedia of Life increases awareness and understanding of living nature by gathering, generating, and sharing trusted knowledge in an open, freely accessible digital resource. Since its public launch, EOL has grown to provide information on hundreds of thousands of species from hundreds of content partners, with content ranging from general species descriptions to molecular biology and conservation status. EOL also serves an ever-expanding selection of sounds, images (1.2 million and growing) and videos in addition to an increasing number of scientific illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library BHL) that are easily accessible through the BHL Flickr group.

The Challenge

The Challenge is to use EOL content and services to create an engaging and educational application that will promote global learning activities focused on discovering and understanding the living world. Successful projects must use EOL content and services but connecting to other services and data sources is also permitted. Applicants are encouraged to explore existing EOL features such as Communities and Collections. Submitted products can be completely new to EOL or can be enhancements of existing tools and services using the EOL API.  Any programming language is acceptable that is compatible with mobile devices and web applications. The use of the EOL APIs is restricted as defined in Terms of Use for EOL Application Programming Interfaces.

The Challenge is a two-stage process.  In Stage 1 applicants submit a product idea (maximum of 1,500 words, not including accompanying materials). Applicants are encouraged to include any screenshots or other materials to help illustrate the concept. Applicants who are selected to continue to Stage 2 will be asked to submit a development plan and budget required to complete a working product (see Guidelines). One or more prizes will be awarded to successful Stage 2 proposals.


The prize total is US$50,000, which may be divided among one or more successful applicants.  In addition to the cash award, the winners' work will be promoted and distributed by EOL. 


Stage 1 applications for the EOL Education Innovation Challenge are due on March 23, 2012 by 5:00 PM US Eastern Daylight Time. The results of Stage 1 will be announced no later than April 13, 2012. Stage 2 submissions are due June 15, 2012.  The results of Stage 2 will be announced by mid-July 2012.


Stage 1 applicants must:

  • Submit a document outlining the product concept.  The document should not exceed 1,500 words, not including supporting materials such as screenshots or other visuals.
  • The proposal should include a clear description of what the project is trying to accomplish, who the primary audience is and why it is important.

Stage 2 applicants must:

  • Provide a development plan including the time line and budget needed to bring the project to completion;
  • Include a user interface in English (US) with provisions to accommodate other languages;

Winning applicants agree to:

  • Release their fully developed code as an open source project;
  • Publish any libraries or supporting code needed to compile and distribute the application, preferably to GitHub;
  • Provide associated documentation, such as a Programmer's Manual, User's Manual and Instructor's Guide.

Submission Process

To submit your application materials please use our online submission form. Stage 1 is now closed.

  • Please include your first and last name and email address.
  • In the subject line, please include: EOL Education Innovation Challenge


Individuals or organizations can apply.  The process is open to international participants.


Entries will be judged on the following criteria by a panel of reviewers made up of educators, technology experts, scientists and others.

  • Innovation towards using and contributing to EOL
  • Ability to scale and reach a global audience
  • Functionality and performance

Questions and Information

Visit our FAQ page for answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).   To ask other questions or discuss this challenge, please join the Education Innovation Challenge Community on the Encyclopedia of Life or email us at: education(at)eol.org.