Rules for the 2020-21
School Bondar Challenge

Goals, Objectives, Rules, Regulations,
Judging Criteria and Awards


Amended for online delivery

I. Goals of the Bondar Challenge:

  • To help students develop a lifelong affinity for both the joy of photography and the love of nature
  • To provide an environmental and artistic learning opportunity for students and teachers
  • To help students use the camera to ‘see’ the environment around them with a discerning eye and mind
  • To teach students how to use cameras as an effective means of capturing images and concepts
  • To help students articulate their feelings about what they see and express those feelings clearly
  • To help students understand the science contained within the art of the photograph

II. Objectives of the Competition:

  • To photograph something in the environment or an ecosystem that reflects the theme of “Connecting with the Natural Environment” and is artistically attractive when photographed
  • To communicate an understanding of what aspect of the photograph makes it a strong artistic image and what the science is behind components of the image
  • To improve the camera techniques of the participant
  • To increase understanding of the limitations of the camera
  • To encourage further learning after the school program experience

III. Expectations of what the participating school will ensure:

  • Students will be instructed in a basic knowledge of camera use and camera care – Camera Tip cards are provided to assist teachers/leaders with this part of the program

e.g., the basics such as holding the camera still and fingers off the lens; camera control such as focus (dependent on camera type – auto focus or option for manual focus); light; framing; focal point of interest; use of a tripod if available

  • Students will be introduced to concepts of artistic composition e.g., framing the subject of interest, rule of thirds, foreground and background; observe in viewfinder for unintended objects

IV. Challenge Rules & Regulations:

  • 1. Participant Groups: The Bondar Challenge is open to schools which are provided access to the online tool kit of resources. The competition is designed for ages 11 years and older but younger age groups have successfully participated in the program as well.


  • 2. Number of Entries: A student may submit one (1) entry to the competition.


  • 3. Entry Fee: A fee of $130.00 will be required from each school once their application has been accepted. This fee will include all materials, support from the Foundation, and entry of all participating students into the challenge.



  • 5. Contest Submissions: An eligible submission to the contest consists of two elements: a photograph and a completed artist’s statement (i.e., a GEM card). Each photograph must be an original taken by the students themselves. The requirements for the photograph and artist’s statement submission are described below in points 6 and 7.


  • 6. Photograph Submission Guidelines: The photograph MUST be sent as a jpeg file (.jpg) 300 dpi, a high enough resolution to ensure good quality printing should the entry be selected for framing and display (e.g., to print an 8” x 10” print, 300 dpi and no larger than 3000 pixels in the largest dimension). Note that software assisted digital alteration of the photograph is not permitted. Photographs should be saved with this labeling structure (illustrated here in colours):


    (School Name, Student Last Name, First Letter of First Name, First Two Letters of GEM Card Level). Any writing submission should have a corresponding label.


  • 7. Written Requirements: A completed card must be submitted for each entry. Four coloured cards are provided to assist the completion of this component of the Bondar Challenge. Each card is progressively more challenging for participants. The teacher/trainer overseeing the program needs to determine which level each student will use as appropriate – Emerald level, Ruby level, Sapphire level or Diamond level. Only one card is to be submitted for each photograph entered into the competition, although teachers are free to use more than one in the program with participants, time permitting.
    For those who select the Diamond level (the most challenging level of competition) the student has the option of submitting a written statement of their own composition in place of the card.

    The written submission is comprised of two parts: on the front side of the card, photographic notes, and on the back side of the card, the artist statement (or as noted, in a separate document, a written artist statement at the Diamond level). Paper cards are to be bundled in one package with the print resources and cameras and mailed to The Foundation. Our mailing address will be provided by the Program Coordinator via email. If a separate written composition is chosen as the format at the Diamond level, it can be submitted in legible handwritten form, or preferably typewritten form, and sent to the Program Coordinator.

a.  Photographic Notes (see front of the card) – A summary follows:
1)      Name of the photographer making the submission (surname and first name)
2)      Date and time the photograph was taken
3)      A title for the photograph
4)      Weather at the time the photograph was taken e.g. sunny, overcast, partial cloud, rain, mist; and approximate temperature
5)      Type of camera used
6)      Camera settings e.g., auto; shutter priority; macro setting
7)      Place where the photo was taken
8)      Whether the camera was handheld or tripod mounted (all are acceptable) or that an image stabilization camera feature was used

b.  Artist’s Statement (see back of the card for all levels)
For the Diamond level Challenge, an original artist statement composition can be substituted for the Diamond level card. If a written submission is chosen in place of the Diamond level card, it should be no more than 200 words authored by the student submitting the photograph, containing the following:
1)     A title for the photograph
2)     The goal of the photograph: what the entrant had in mind when the photograph was taken and whether or not the goal was achieved
3)     The emotional connection the entrant has with the photograph
4)     The artistic aspect of the photo: how the composition makes it an appealing image to the student (e.g., lines, colours, textures)
5)     The scientific aspect of the photo: what fact, natural process or principle that is included or at work in the image; the Biome and/or Ecozone presented in the photo
6)     Artist’s Critique: how the photograph could be improved, e.g. with a different point of view, by getting closer or farther away, through a different time of day or type of sky, in a different season


  • 8.     Participant Agreement: The Roberta Bondar Foundation (also referred to as The Foundation) respects rights related to copyright laws and intellectual property and therefore the participant retains the copyright of the image. By submitting to the Bondar Challenge competition, the participant agrees to abide by the rules and regulations including originality and takes any and all legal responsibility for breaches of copyright caused by plagiarism, intentional or otherwise. The Foundation reserves the right to disqualify inappropriate or unsuitable entries.
    By entering the competition, the participant agrees to allow The Foundation, or any public or private agency authorized by The Foundation, to use a picture and name of the winning individual as well as the submission in whole or in part for any purpose including exhibition and research, for use on its website, in print or e-book publication form, and for marketing or promotional purposes as determined by The Foundation, without compensation of any kind. There is no signed waiver required by participants.


  • 9.     Release of Liability: The Foundation, and/or its employees/agents involved in the contest will not be held liable for missing, mislabeled, damaged, or non-displayed photographs. By entering a submission, the contest participant accepts this release.


  • 10.  Announcement of Results: Results for the School Bondar Challenge will be available on The Foundation’s website by July 31st, 2021. The winning entries may be framed and displayed in a Travelling Exhibition and Learning Experience at a host gallery in the future.


  • 11.  Judges: The Foundation has selected a number of judges from professions in the sciences, arts, education and photography. The evaluation will be performed to the best of the judges’ abilities in a fair manner and will represent the opinion of the judges. They will choose entries that best fulfill the Bondar Challenge objectives based on the Judging Process and Criteria described below. Their decision on all entries is final.


  • 12.  Judging Process:
    1) Judges will read the artist’s statement and review the image. The two components will be judged as an integrated whole;
    2) Each judge on their own will vet a group of photos and artist statement cards and will select the top ten entries as finalists in the competition;
    3) The judges working as a panel will select the winners.


  • 13. Judging Evaluation Criteria:
    EcoSeek Judging Criteria cards are available for easy reference in the online toolkit made available to teachers/trainers and a hard copy set made available in the mailed package. A summary follows:
    1) Technical component: The photograph submitted was in focus with no unintended motion
    2) Artistic dimensions such as:
      a) Composition – not jumbled; no unintended objects
      b) Focus of interest
      c) Colour, lines, texture
      d) What was it in the environment that was appealing? What attracted the participant to take the photo?
    3) Scientific dimensions such as:
      a) Accuracy of information presented
      b) Identifying or explaining a scientific fact or principle that is at work in the photograph
      c) Photograph reflects the theme of the competition
     d) Biome and/or Ecozone identified

V.  Awards – for Participating Schools and Participants

  • All entrants receive recognition of their participation in the Bondar Challenge
  • A certificate of achievement signed by Dr. Bondar
  • Recognition of the winning submissions on The Roberta Bondar Foundation website at
  • Winning submissions may travel with The Foundation’s Travelling Exhibition and Learning Experience where they will be on public display as winners of the Bondar Challenge


Return to School Bondar Challenge Objectives and Benefits

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