Future Prize for Middle School

How can newcomers to Canada make sense of Toronto’s public transportation system? Is there an “app” to banish social anxiety? These are just two of the important issues recently tackled as part of the Future Prize Challenge.

Co-hosted by CIS Ontario and the Future Design School, this design-thinking competition for Middle School students (Grades 6 to 8) empowers them to find technology-based solutions to pressing real-world problems.

The two-day event involves, first, a professional development opportunity for educators to learn the ins and outs of design-thinking methodology. Then, each one returns to school and forms a “mini-club” quartet with three students. After a month, researching an issue and conducting interviews with real potential users of an app-based solution, they all congregate for an action-packed day, including a final pitch to a team of judges (one of whom may just be from Apple!).

Key Dates

2020 Future Prize Challenge

How might we empower students to solve the world's big problems?

In our rapidly-changing world, students increasingly need to be creative, curious, empathetic, and resilient. Future Prize introduces middle school students to design thinking and innovative problem-solving methods that foster critical thinking and compassion.

This year's event will focus on CLIMATE CHANGE. Teams will find real problems in their local area, that when solved, can have a positive impact on the environment.

There are two parts to this event:

  1. A day of Professional Learning, scheduled for Friday, January 10th, 2020, for all teachers who will be joining students for the Future Prize Day.
  2. Future Prize Challenge Day which will take place on Thursday, January 30, 2020. The event includes a design thinking workshop for teams of students and teachers, an action-packed day of developing solutions, and an exciting final "pitch" of solutions to a panel of expert judges.

Student teams (up to 3 students and one teacher per team) will:

  • Learn about a meaningful challenge facing the world today
  • Build empathy for people affected by the challenge
  • Develop creative ideas to solve the problem
  • Create a prototype of their solution
  • Pitch their idea to a panel of judges from some of Canada's most innovative companies
  • Foster their creativity, pursue their curiosity and feel empowered to reshape the world around them

Teacher Coaches will:

  • Receive hands-on professional development on how to apply design thinking tools and methods to enhance student learning - teachers learn by doing while participating on a team with students, as well as attending a PD day dedicated to helping them understand the process so that they can effectively coach their teams
  • Access curated content from users who face the challenge in the real world
  • Take students on a field trip that meets Ontario and MYP curriculum expectations
  • Develop skills in creating hands-on, project-based, personalized learning experiences for students

The registration fee is $500 per team and includes the teacher coach Professional Learning Day AND one day of competition for a school team of 3 students in Grades 6-8 ONLY and 1 teacher. Lunch will be provided on both days for participants. Schools can submit up to two teams. If space allows, more teams per school may be added. The teachers work together with the students as part of a team, so one teacher coach per team is REQUIRED.

To participate, please register the Teacher Coach(es). Students will be registered at or after the January 10, 2020 Professional Learning Day. If space allows, schools will be permitted to bring two teams.

Download an informational PDF.


Future Design School


Sandra Nagy
Director of Learning
Future Design School

Leslie McBeth
Director of Professional Development
Future Design School

For additional information, please contact:
Sheri Little
Executive Assistant/ Event Manager

Empowering students to solve big, world problems may sound like an overwhelming task. The Future Prize Challenge equips educators and students alike, with a powerful method of collaboration intended to do just that.