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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the 17 best writing contests for high school students.
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If you're a writer—fiction, non-fiction, or fanfiction—you can put those skills to work for you. There are tons of writing contests for high school students, which can award everything from medals to cash prizes to scholarships if you win .
Not only will a little extra money, whether cash or scholarships, help you when it comes time to pay for college, but the prestige of a respected reward is also a great thing to include on your college application.
Read on to learn more about what writing contests for high school students there are, how to apply, and what you could win !
Writing Contests With Multiple Categories
Some high school contests accept entries in a variety of formats, including the standard fiction and non-fiction, but also things like screenwriting or visual art. Check out these contests with multiple categories:
Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
- Award Amount: $1,000 to $12,500 scholarships
- Deadline: Varies between December and January, depending on your region
- Fee: $10 for single entry, $30 for portfolio
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards celebrate art by students in grades seven through twelve (age 13 or older) on a regional and national scale. These awards have a huge number of categories and styles, including cash prizes or scholarships for some distinguished award winners . Categories include science-fiction and fantasy writing, humor, critical essays, and dramatic scripts, among others.
Deadlines vary by region (but are mostly in December and January), so use Scholastic's Affiliate Partner search to find out when projects are due for your area.
Scholastic partners with other organizations to provide prizes to winners, so what you can win depends on what you enter and what competition level you reach. Gold medal portfolio winners can earn a $12,500 scholarship, and silver medal winners with distinction can earn a $2,000 scholarship , as well as many other options in different categories.
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are open to private, public, or home-schooled students attending school in the US, Canada, or American schools in other countries. Students must be in grades seven through twelve to participate. Eligibility varies between regions, so consult Scholastic's Affiliate Partner search tool to figure out what applies to you .
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have a $10 entry fee for individual submissions and $30 for portfolio submissions, which may be waived for students in need . These fees may vary depending on location, so be sure to check your local guidelines .
Ocean Awareness Contest
- Award Amount: Scholarships up to $1,500
- Deadline: June 13, 2023 (submissions open in September)
The Ocean Awareness Contest asks students to consider the future of a coastal or marine species that is under threat from climate change. Submissions are accepted in a variety of art forms, but all must consider the way that climate change impacts ocean life .
Submissions for all categories, including art, creative writing, film, interactive and multimedia, music and dance, and poetry and spoken word are due in June, although the exact date varies slightly each year.
Winners may receive prizes of up to a $1,500 scholarship , depending on which division they fall into and what prize they win.
The contest is open to all international and US students between the ages of 11 and 18.
River of Words
- Award: Publication in the River of Words anthology
- Deadline: January 31, 2023
The River of Words contest asks students to consider watersheds—an area that drains into the same body of water—and how they connect with their local community. Students can explore this concept in art or poetry, with winners being published in the annual River of Words anthology .
Entries in all categories must be submitted by January 31, 2023.
The River of Words contest is primarily for recognition and publication, as the website doesn't list any prize money . The contest includes specific awards for certain forms, such as poetry, some of which may have additional prizes .
The contest is open to International and US students from kindergarten to grade 12 (ages 5 through 19). Students who have graduated from high school but are not yet in college are also eligible.
- Award Amount: $200 cash award
- Deadline: Typically April of each year
Sponsored by the Adroit Journal, the Adroit Prizes reward high school students and undergraduate students for producing exemplary fiction and poetry. Students may submit up to six poems or three works of prose (totaling 3,500 words) for consideration. Submissions typically open in spring .
Winners receive $200 and (along with runners-up) have their works published in the Adroit Journal . Finalists and runners-up receive a copy of their judge's latest published work.
The contest is open to secondary and undergraduate students, including international students and those who have graduated early . The Adroit Prizes has a non-refundable fee of $15, which can be waived.
- Award Amount: Up to $10,000 cash awards
- Deadline: October 15, 2022; application for 2024 opens June 2023
Open to students in a variety of disciplines, including visual arts, writing, and music, the YoungArts competition asks students to submit a portfolio of work. Additional requirements may apply depending on what artistic discipline you're in .
Winners can receive up to $10,000 in cash as well as professional development help, mentorship, and other educational rewards.
Applicants must be 15- to 18-year-old US citizens or permanent residents (including green card holders) or in grades 10 through 12 at the time of submission . There is a $35 submission fee, which can be waived.
Fiction Writing Contests for High School Students
Many contests with multiple categories accept fiction submissions, so also check out the above contests if you're looking for places to submit original prose.
EngineerGirl Writing Contest
- Award Amount: $100 - $500 cash prize
- Deadline: February 1, 2023
This year's EngineerGirl Writing Contest asks students (though the name of the organization is "EngineerGirl," students of any gender may participate) to submit a piece of writing that shows how female and/or non-white engineers have contributed to or can enhance engineering’s great achievements. Word counts vary depending on grade level.
At every grade level, first-place winners will receive $500, second-place winners will receive $250, and third-place winners will receive $100 . Winning entries and honorable mentions will also be published on the EngineerGirl website.
Students of any gender from third to 12th grade may submit to this contest. Home-schooled and international students are also eligible.
Nonfiction Contests for High School Students
Like fiction, non-fiction is often also accepted in contests with multiple categories. However, there are quite a few contests accepting only non-fiction essays as well.
The American Foreign Services Association Essay Contest
- Award Amount: $1,250 to $2,500
- Deadline: April 3, 2023
The American Foreign Services Association sponsors a high school essay contest tasking students with selecting a country or region in which the United States Foreign Service has been involved at any point since 1924 and describe, in 1,500 words or less, how the Foreign Service was successful or unsuccessful in advancing American foreign policy goals in this country/region and propose ways in which it might continue to improve those goals in the coming years .
One winner will receive $2,500 as well as a Washington D.C. trip and a scholarship to attend Semester at Sea . One runner-up receives $1,250 and a scholarship to attend the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference.
Entries must be from US students in grade nine through 12, including students in the District of Columbia, US territories, or US citizens attending school abroad, including home-schooled students.
John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Contest
- Award Amount: $100 - $10,000
- Deadline: January 13, 2023
The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage contest tasks students with writing an essay between 700 and 1,000 words on an act of political courage by a US elected official serving during or after 1917 , inspired by John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage . Each essay should cover the act itself as well as any obstacles or risks the subject faced in achieving their act of courage. Essays must not cover figures previously covered in the contest, and should also not cover John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, or Edward M. Kennedy.
One first-place winner will receive $10,000, one second-place winner will receive $3,000, five finalists will receive $1,000 each, and eight semi-finalists will win $100 each.
The contest is open to students in grades nine through 12 who are residents of the United States attending public, private, parochial, or home schools . Students under the age of 20 in correspondence high school programs or GED programs, as well as students in US territories, Washington D.C., and students studying abroad, are also eligible.
SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest
- Award Amount: $300 - $1,000 scholarships
- Deadline: February 19, 2023 (submissions open in November)
The SPJ/JEA high school essay contest , organized by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association, asks students to analyze the importance of independent media to our lives (as of now, the official essay topic for spring 2023 is TBD) . Essays should be from 300 to 500 words.
A $1,000 scholarship is given to a first-place winner, $500 to second-place, and $300 to third-place.
The contest is open to public, private, and home-schooled students of the United States in grades 9-12 .
Playwriting Contests for High School Students
For those who love the stage, playwriting contests are a great option. An original play can earn you great rewards thanks to any of these contests!
VSA Playwright Discovery Program Competition
- Award: Participation in professional development activities at the Kennedy Center
- Deadline: January 4, 2023 (Application opens in October)
The VSA Playwright Discovery Program Competition asks students with disabilities to submit a ten-minute script exploring their personal experiences, including the disability experience . Scripts may be realistic, fictional, or abstract, and may include plays, screenplays, or musical theater.
All entries are due in January. Scripts may be collaborative or written by individuals, but must include at least one person with a disability as part of the group .
One winner or group of winners will be selected as participants in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Winners will have access to professional assistance in developing their script as well as workshops and networking opportunities.
This contest is open to US and international students in ages 14 to 18 . Groups of up to five members may collaborate on an essay, but at least one of those students must have a disability.
Worldwide Plays Festival Competition
- Award: Professional production in New York
- Deadline: March (official 2023 deadline TBD)
In the Worldwide Plays Festival Competition , students from around the world can submit an eight-minute script for a play set in a part of a neighborhood —specifically, at a convenience store, outside a character's front door, or at a place where people convene. Each play must have roles for three actors, should not have a narrator who isn't also a character, and should not contain set changes.
Entries are due in February. Winners will have their play produced by professionals at an off-Broadway New York theater . Scholarships are also available for winners.
Any student, including US and international, in first through 12th grade may submit work for consideration.
- Award Amount: $50 - $200 cash prize
- Deadline: 2023 deadline TBD (application opens January 2023)
Students may submit a one-act, non-musical play of at least ten pages to YouthPLAYS for consideration . Plays should be appropriate for high school audiences and contain at least two characters, with one or more of those characters being youths in age-appropriate roles. Large casts with multiple female roles are encouraged.
One winner will receive $250, have their play published by YouthPLAYS, and receive a copy of Great Dialog , a program for writing dialog. One runner up will receive $100 and a copy of Great Dialog.
Students must be under the age of 19, and plays must be the work of a single author.
The Lewis Center Ten-Minute Play Contest
- Deadline: Spring of each year
Students in grade 11 may submit a ten-minute play for consideration for the Lewis Center Ten-Minute Play Contest . Plays should be 10 pages long, equivalent to 10 minutes.
One first-prize winner will receive $500, one second-prize winner will receive $250, and one third-prize will receive $100.
All entries must be from students in the 11th grade .
Poetry Writing Contests for High School Students
For those who prefer a little free verse or the constraints of a haiku, there are plenty of poetry-specific contests, too.
Creative Communications Poetry Contest
- Award Amount: $25
- Deadline: December
Students in ninth grade or below may submit any poem of 21 lines or less (not counting spaces between stanzas) for consideration in the Creative Communications Poetry Contest .
Students may win $25, a free book, and school supplies for their teacher .
Public, private, or home-schooled US students (including those in detention centers) in kindergarten through ninth grade may enter.
Leonard L. Milberg '53 High School Poetry Prize
- Award Amount: $500-$1500
- Deadline: November
Students in 11th grade may submit up to three poems for consideration in the Leonard L. Milberg '53 High School Poetry Prize . Submissions are due in November .
One first-prize winner will receive $1500, one second-prize winner will receive $750, and a third-prize winner will receive $500. Poems may be published on arts.princeton.edu. All entrants must be in the 11th grade.
Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
- Award Amount: $500 - $5,000 renewable scholarship, $350 cash prize
- Deadline: October 31, 2022
Women poets who are sophomores or juniors in high school may submit two poems for consideration for the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest .
One first-place winner will receive a $350 cash prize, publication in and ten copies of Cargoes , Hollins' student magazine, as well as a renewable scholarship of up to $5,000 for Hollins and free tuition and housing for the Hollinsummer creative writing program. One second-place winner will receive publication in and two copies of Cargoes, a renewable scholarship to Hollins of up to $1,000, and a $500 scholarship to attend Hollinsummer.
Applicants must be female students in their sophomore or junior year of high school .
If you're looking for more money opportunities for college , there are plenty of scholarships out there— including some pretty weird ones .
For those who've been buffing up their test scores , there are tons of scholarships , some in the thousands of dollars.
If you're tired of writing essays and applying for scholarships, consider some of these colleges that offer complete financial aid packages .
Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.
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The science competitions your students can enter this year
By Emma Molloy
Discover STEM-themed competitions for you and your students to enter in this academic year
Source: © Shutterstock
Learn about the fantastic array of science competitions your students can enter – so you can sign up as soon as possible
There is a great range of science competitions out there that your students can enter. Competitions come in all shapes and sizes, including essay writing, photography and video competitions, and can be local or national events.
Besides the array of downloadable materials you can make use of in your lessons, as homework or part of a science club, the benefits of taking part include learning how to work in a team, grasping how lessons apply to real-world problems, and there could even be some extra cash to bag!
You can jump straight to the lists of science-writing competitions , or more arty competitions (such as photography and drawing prizes), or simply read on to discover what’s open to you and your students this academic year.
These competitions have been ordered by closing date. Listing a competition does not serve as an endorsement by the RSC. Last updated: October 2023.
Imperial College Science & Innovation Competition
Age: 4–adult Registration opens: September 2023 Closes: 15 December 2023
The Science & Innovation Competition , run by the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial College, aims to motivate primary and secondary-aged children to engage with science, to encourage them to work as part of a team and engage in fun activities. Adults are also welcome to enter.
Teams of two to four people are asked to develop a new and innovative scientific solution to help achieve one of the United Nation’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development . To enter, teams need to create a five-minute film that describes the science behind their idea. Finalists are invited to take part in an event during spring 2024 at Imperial College, London (date to be confirmed). Learn more on the website .
UK Chemistry Olympiad
Age: 16–18 (recommended) Registration opens: September 2023 Closes: January 2024
Run by the RSC, the UK Chemistry Olympiad is designed to challenge and inspire older secondary-school students, by encouraging them to push themselves, boost their critical problem-solving skills and test their knowledge in real-world situations. Explore past papers to get an idea of the types of questions involved.
There are three rounds that culminate with the prestigious International Chemistry Olympiad , which will take place this year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Round 1, a written test taken in your school, is scheduled to take place on 25 January 2024. Students then receive bronze, silver or gold certificates depending on their scores. Up to 30 students will then be selected to move on to the second round – a training weekend at the University of Nottingham. Four students will then be chosen to represent the UK in the international competition from 21–30 July 2024.
To get started, register your school or college. Do this and find out more information about preparing on the Olympiad homepage .
Top of the Bench
Age: 14–16 Registration opens: soon Closes: January 2024
Top of the Bench (TOTB) is an annual practical chemistry competition that has been running for over 20 years. It’s a long-standing favourite for students and teachers, and provides an opportunity for students to put their teamwork and practical skills to the test.
Regional heats are led by RSC local sections between October and January. The winning team from each heat progresses to the national final, held in the spring at a UK university (where there is also a session for teachers to explore resources and classroom ideas with one of the RSC’s education coordinators).
First prize is awarded to the best overall school performance, with five teams receiving runners up prizes. The Jacqui Clee Award is also awarded each year to the student who makes an outstanding individual contribution.
Teams must consist of four students: two from year 9/S2; one from year 10/S3; one from year 11/S4.
Find more information including past papers and how to apply on the TOTB homepage .
Age: 13–18 Registration opens: now Closes: 1 February 2024
The Slingshot Challenge is run by National Geographic and is an exciting opportunity for students to get involved with the global programme. Students can enter in teams of up to six. Individual entries are welcomed although all entries are expected to involve collaboration with peers, stakeholders, and/or marginalized communities.
Students work to prepare a short, 1-minute video, from topics with an environmental focus. Training sessions for teachers and resource/tool kits are available from the website and the providers can offer feedback and technical support ahead of official submissions.
Videos are expected to put forward compelling, evidence-based information and be engaging for the audience. A small number of motivating prizes are awarded each year to the student of up to $10,000.
For full details see the Slingshot Challenge website .
Age: 16–17 Registration opens: soon Closes: 23 February 2024
The Schools’ Analyst Competition is returning to schools in 2024. Run collaboratively by the Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund and the Royal Society of Chemistry, this event allows students to expand their chemistry knowledge and skills through practical analytical experiments. Students must be in Year 12 (England, Wales, NI)/S5 (Scotland)/5th Year (Ireland).
Schools and colleges register their interest to host a heat and, if randomly selected, can now enter up to 25 teams of three students to compete to be crowned the overall school winner. Each winning school team will then compete within their region to find regional winners. Regional winners receive a cash prize for themselves and their school.
Register your school to take part by 23 February 2024. To take part, students only need access to standard school laboratory equipment and some consumables (a bursary is available for those who need it).
Equipment boxes are sent to 400 entrants, selected at random, and delivered in advance of the event. Results must be submitted by 17 May in Ireland (to ensure schools have the chance to award winners before the summer holidays) and 14 June elsewhere.
Science meets art
If you have some students who would be hooked by the artistic side of science, check out these competitions:
- RSB Photography competition (open to all ages; opens March 2024; £500 top prize for under 18s)
- RSB Nancy Rothwell Award for specimen drawing (ages 7–18; open March–July 2024; prizes include set of drawing pencils and small cash prizes for students and schools)
- Science Without Borders challenge is an artwork competition with a focus on ocean conservation. The 2024 theme is ‘hidden wonders of the deep’ (ages 11–19; closes 4 March 2024; maximum prize of $500)
- British Science Week poster competition ; this year’s theme will be ‘time’ (ages 3–14; closes March 2024)
- RPS Woman Science Photographer of the Year is open to women of all ages and backgrounds (open and under 18s; closing date TBC but expected March 2024)
- Minds Underground Competitions ; Minds Underground run a number of essay competitions each year covering a variety of STEM and other topics (all ages; closing dates vary but 2024 questions will be released January 2024, see website for full details)
MathWorks Math Modeling challenge
Age: 16–19 (England and Wales only) Registration opens: November 2023 Closes: 24 February 2024
The M3 Challenge is an internet-based applied maths competition that inspires participants to pursue STEM education and careers. Working in teams of three to five students, participants have 14 consecutive hours to solve an open-ended maths-modelling problem based around a real issue during the challenge weekend, 1–4 March 2024.
The problem typically has a socially conscious theme – equity, the environment, conservation or recycling, energy use, health, and other topics that young people care about. The challenge gives students the opportunity to use maths modelling processes to represent, analyse, make predictions and otherwise provide insight into real-world phenomena. For example, 2023’s problem centred around modelling the impacts of e-bikes to better understand if they are likely to become part of a global, more sustainable energy plan.
Numerous free resources , including modelling and coding handbooks, videos and sample problems are available to help teams prepare for the event.
The competition’s final presentation and awards ceremony event is held in New York City in late April – an all-expense paid experience for the finalist teams. These top teams will be awarded scholarships toward the pursuit of higher education, with members of the overall winning team receiving $20,000 (»£16,000).
For rules, resources and to register, visit the competition website .
The Cambridge Upper Secondary Science Competition
Age: 16–18 Registration opens: now Closes: 30 September 2023 and 31 March 2024
The Cambridge Upper Secondary Science Competition , run by Cambridge Assessment, is an exciting extra-curricular activity for teams of aspiring scientists who are studying with the Cambridge IGCSE or O Level science programmes.
Teams of three to six students choose a topic and work on a scientific investigation over 20–25 hours. The competition encourages investigations with some practical or community relevance and an eye on sustainability.
Projects may involve laboratory work and should include creative and collaborative working, critical thinking and reflection. Students should be given the opportunity to present their results to a wider audience, perhaps at a science fair or other school event.
Teachers provide initial project evaluations and the best are put forward for consideration by a panel of experts. The winning team receives a certificate and is featured on the competition website. The competition runs twice a year, so keep abreast of all the dates on the website .
Age: 11–16 Registration opens: now Closes: March 2024 for first-round submissions
The TeenTech Awards encourage students to see how they might apply science and technology to real-world problems across several different categories, from food and retail through the future of transport to wearable technology. Students identify an opportunity or a problem, suggest a solution and research the market.
Students can work in teams of up to three people and there are lots of award categories. All submitted projects receive feedback and a bronze, silver or gold award. The event is well supported with training sessions for teachers and students, so everyone knows what to expect and what the judges will be looking for!
The best projects go forward to the TeenTech Awards Final for judging and the winning school in each category will receive a cash prize. The final is expected to take place in London in June 2024.
Science writing competitions
Numerous essays competitions run each year covering all aspects and areas of STEM. Below is just a selection of some of the competitions out there. Entries into science writing competitions make great additions to UCAS applications, and they get students thinking about science, too.
- The Oxford Scientist Schools’ Science Writing Competition (700-word magazine article; ages 15–18; deadline likely to be July 2024; prize includes £50 and being published in the magazine)
- Newnham College, Cambridge (2000-word academic essay; age 16–18 women at state school only; deadline likely to be March 2024; winners receive up to £400 to split with their school). Teachers can sign up to mailing lists now to hear more about this essay competition and other events from the college.
British Science Week poster competition
Age: 3–14 Registration opened: January 2024 Closes: March 2024
British Science Week will run from 8–17 March. Alongside numerous activities and events across the country, there will be a themed poster competition – and this year’s theme will is ‘time’.
Entrants can explore a wide range of ideas covered by the broad theme. Judges are on the look out for an innovative angle or creative interpretation of the theme; clear, accurate and informative content; and effective, engaging communication. This competition is a great way for students to practise their communication skills. There are numerous prizes up for grabs that cover all age categories.
Entrants can be teams or individuals from any organisation, although schools are limited to five entries. Find out more on the website , including activity packs and other resources to make the most of British Science Week.
Big Bang Young Scientists and Engineers Competition
Age: 11–18 Registration opens: October 2023 Closes: 27 March 2024
The Big Bang Competition is open to young people aged 11 to 18 in state-funded education or who are home educated or who enter as part of a community group. Private school participants can get involved as part of a collaboration with state-school peers.
Participants complete project-based work, focusing on investigation, discovery and use of scientific methods. Students choose their own STEM topic and work to submit their project as a written report or short video. The possibilities are endless!
Students can include their involvement in the competition in their extracurricular activities on UCAS forms and personal statements and have a chance of winning a range of awards and cash prizes.
Find out how to get started and get inspired with past projects on the Big Bang website .
BIEA Youth STEAM Competition
Age: 6–18 Registration opens: October 2023 Closes: April 2024 for first-round submissions
The BIEA Youth STEAM Competition asks students to use their creativity to come up with ideas for a more sustainable future based on a specific theme. The theme for 2024 has yet to be announced, but the theme for 2023 was “developing solutions for sustainable cities”. Students research, design and present their solution, including a written report.
Students can enter as individuals or in teams of up to five members and schools can enter more than one team. There are lots of competition categories to cover all age groups. Submissions are expected to be accepted from January 2024 and the international final to be in July 2024. Learn more on the competition website .
Local to Newcastle?
Newcastle Secondary School SciFair is a university-run secondary school science fair for students from state schools across Newcastle. Sci-Fair is a whole day event that will take place during British Science Week. Students can get the opportunity to present their models, posters or PowerPoint presentations about a scientific topic of their choosing. SciFair is open to ages 11–16. There are multiple prizes to be won on the day to recognise student’s efforts. Spaces are limited capacity, so students should wait for their projects to be approved before starting work.
Unsung Heroes of Science video competition
Age: 16–18 Close s: April 2024 TBC
The International Unsung Heroes of Science video competition from Hertford College, University of Oxford is open to all 16–18 students. Entrants are tasked with making a two-minute video sharing the story of a scientist whose contributions were overlooked. Entries can be submitted by individuals or in teams of up to three.
The competition website also has lesson plans and links to videos of previous unsung heros, which are great resources for teachers to inspire their students.
Cambridge Chemistry Challenge
Age: 19 or younger Registration opens: now Closes: 1 June 2024
This competition — aimed at Year 12 students but available to younger students — is designed to stretch and challenge students beyond the curriculum interested in chemistry and is excellent experience for anyone considering chemistry for further study.
Students sit a 90-minute written paper under exam conditions in school, which is sent out to schools in advance. Mark schemes are available to teachers, and for schools submitting more than five scripts, these should be marked by the teacher. Scripts of students scoring over 50% are then submitted. Students who perform well receive a certificate and the best performers are invited to join a residential camp at the University of Cambridge at the end of August
The website contains lots of past papers and mark schemes, which are a valuable resource for teachers. Full details are on the website .
IET Faraday Challenge
Age: 12–13 Registration opens: January 2024 for the 2024–2025 season Closes: July 2024
Faraday Challenges are cross-curricular STEM activity days for UK schools run by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. This annual competition draws on students’ practical science and engineering skills, asking them to work in teams to solve real-world engineering problems and think creatively. Schools can host Challenge Days and invite teams from local schools to join them or apply to join a day at another school. Planning for these events starts early, so plenty of time to get organised for the day.
Teams should be made up of six students aged 12–13 years old (England and Wales Year 8, Scotland S1/S2, Northern Ireland Year 9). Schools may host a challenge day themselves or attend one hosted at another school.
Students win prizes for themselves and a trophy for their school. There is also a national league table and the top teams from across the UK go through to the national final, with the chance to win a cash prize of up to £1000 for their school. Plus, by taking part students will also meet the criteria for achieving a CREST Discovery Award.
If you are not able to enter into the main competition, there is also the opportunity for students to take part in the Virtual Faraday Challenge open to anyone aged 7–15.
Cambridge chemistry race.
Age: 16–18 Registration opens: Mon 5 December 2022 Closes: February 2023
In the Cambridge Chemistry Race , teams of 3–5 students solve as many theoretical problems as they can over the course of two hours – ranging from easy riddles to tasks of A-level difficulty and complex chemical problems.
Once a team has solved a question, the examiner verifies their answer and hands them the next question. Points are awarded based on the number of successful attempts. Whoever gets the most points wins!
Students are allowed to use a calculator, books, notes, and printed literature. The challenge aims to test problem-solving skills and chemical understanding rather than knowledge. Explore past questions and solutions here to get an idea of what’s in store.
Schools may only enter one team each and places are first come first served.
The competition is run in collaboration with the University of Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry. This year, it is joined by the University of Oxford too, so students may compete in either city. The competition will take place on Saturday 4 February 2023. Learn more on the competition website .
Global essay competition: Young voices in the chemical sciences for sustainability
Age: 35 and under Registration opens: now Closes: 31 March 2023
An annual essay competition on the role of the chemical sciences in sustainability, organised by the International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development (IOCD) in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). The competition is open globally to entrants under 35 years of age. The theme for the 2023 competition is: How can the chemical sciences lead the stewardship of the Earth’s element resources?
Essays will be grouped into seven regions for shortlisting and selection of winners, based on the entrant’s country of normal residence. Each regional winner will receive a prize of US$500 and their entries will be published in RSC Sustainability . The shortlisted essays will be collected in an annual compendium, Young voices in the chemical sciences for sustainability , available on the IOCD’s website. Individual shortlisted entries will also be featured from time to time on IOCD’s website.
Essays will be judged on how well they highlight the importance of scientific approaches grounded in the chemical sciences for solving sustainability challenges. Entrants should take a broad, global perspective, and reflect on the intersection of science, society and policy aspects, rather than describing a particular scientific advance in great technical detail. Essays must not exceed 1500 words of body copy.
Quantum on the Clock
Age: 16–18 Closed: 8 July 2022
The Institute of Physics’ QQQ group’s Quantum on the Clock competition is open to all A-level or equivalent students in the UK and Ireland. Students are tasked to create a three-minute video about any aspect of quantum science or technology. Entries can be individual or in teams of up to four students.
Cash prizes are on offer for the winners and runners-up, with the judging focusing on creativity, clarity, engagement and accuracy. The ‘best individual’ and ‘best team’ winners will also receive year subscriptions to Physics World and an expenses-paid invitation to a prize-giving ceremony at the Photon 2022 conference dinner, which will take place from 30 August until 2 September 2022.
To find out more and apply, watch this video and go to the Quantum on the Clock website .
Clean Tech Competition
Age: 15–18 Closed: 22 April 2022 (registration); 29 April 2022 (paper submission deadline)
The Clean Tech Competition research and design challenge asks students to identify a problem with our natural world and resource use that they want to change, innovate a sustainable solution and submit a research paper to the judges. This year there is no topic restriction; entries simply need to have one goal: create a sustainable solution for an environmental issue.
This is a great opportunity to refine research, analysis and literary skills.
Each team should be made up of one to three students, who must be 15–18 years old on the submission deadline, 29 April 2022. Once the papers have been submitted, the top 10 teams from the global pool will be selected to progress to the virtual global finals. They will present their research and prototypes to the judges, and will receive handsome cash prizes, with the first team also earning a continued mentorship from an expert in the field.
Find out more and register on the competition website.
Royal College of Science Union (RCSU) Science Challenge
Age: 14–18 Closed: 11 February 2022
Imperial College London’s RCSU Science Challenge is all about science communication – requiring students to demonstrate their skills in debate and reasoning and teach the public about science and its consequences.
Questions on a given theme are set by eminent scientists – who even read the shortlisted entries, so there’s a real chance students’ work will be seen by world-leading academics. You can find last year’s (Covid-related) questions on the website .
There are both individual and team categories, and students can answer one of the questions in either written or video form of up to 1000 words or four minutes respectively. Winners receive cash prizes, plus there are non-cash prizes for the runners up.
Shortlisted candidates will be informed on 14 March 2022 and invited to the grand final on 21 March 2022 at the Royal Institution, where they will deliver a short presentation. Find more information about taking part on the challenge website .
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Congratulations to the winner of the 2019 Yale Scientific Synapse High School Essay Contest!
This year’s essay prompt was:
There is a moment that defines success, that “ah-ha” moment when the barrier of your expectations of what is possible to achieve is shattered. Yet, for every Nobel Prize success story or every innovation that is deemed media frenzy worthy, there are hundreds of breakthroughs that go unnoticed by the general public. Choose an important but under-discussed breakthrough from the past 5 years, and describe why it is so significant.
Entangled in a Quantum Future
1st Place Winner, Yale Scientific Magazine National Essay Competition 2019 Kelvin Kim Bergen Catholic High School, Oradell, NJ
The rate of discovery in science has accelerated dramatically since the 20th century. This should not be surprising since our knowledge base doubles approximately every 13 months. Some scientists even predict that the “internet of things” will lead to even more dramatic accelerations. Many of these advancements have gained widespread recognition while others are relatively unknown to the general public.
For example, Chinese researchers at Shanghai’s University of Science and Technology made advances on data teleportation based on quantum entanglement but remained underrecognized. In 2017, this team, led by Ji-Gang Ren, shattered previous distance records for such teleportation experiments. The previous record, set in 2015, achieved successful transmissions using 104 kilometers of superconducting molybdenum silicide fiber. Firing a high-altitude laser from Tibet to the orbiting Micius satellite, the Chinese team achieved successful transmissions over distances up to 1400 kilometers. Later, they successfully transmitted quantum data from the satellite back to Earth at distances ranging from 1600 to 2400 kilometers. In doing so, they demonstrated the viability of someday being able to create a “quantum internet,” over which information could be exchanged far more securely than is possible today.
The phrase quantum teleportation is somewhat misleading. In the Chinese experiments, no particles were physically teleported from Earth to space like most people might imagine after watching sci-fi programs like Star Trek . “Quantum teleportation” involves information, not matter. To grasp this, we need to understand the basic nature of quantum entanglement.
Quantum entanglement is a way of describing two particles with matching quantum states. The states in question, of which there are four possibilities, have to do with vertical or horizontal polarization. The entangled particles are linked in such a way as to mutually influence one another. Moreover, when one particle is observed, information about the other can be known. These effects hold true even if the entangled particles are separated by great distances.
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu first experimentally demonstrated quantum entanglement in a laboratory, showing an Einstein-type correlation between two photons that were well separated from one another. Back then, all she could do was show correlations between entangled photons separated by a small distance. The experiment conducted by Dr. Ren’s team in 2017 is fundamentally the same as the experiment that was conducted by Dr. Wu almost seventy years ago. However, the Chinese researchers’ achievement is significant because they strove to do what Dr. Wu did at a far greater scale. Instead of performing the experiment in a laboratory, the Chinese physicists demonstrated entanglement between a photon on Earth and a photon on an orbiting satellite. These particles were separated by distances of at least 500 kilometers—the greatest distances that quantum entanglement have ever been recorded. This accomplishment was all the more impressive as it was achieved using detectors on a satellite that was traveling around Earth at orbital speeds.
Quantum entanglement means that data can seemingly be “teleported” since the information about one of the particles in an entangled pair will always reflect information relevant to the other particle. This is the main concept behind the potential applications being investigated by scientists. While nothing may be physically teleported, the fact that information about an object can be accessed instantaneously from anywhere has significant implications for the future.
One potential application of this concept is the quantum internet. The researchers showed that working with entangled particles while they are separated and moving at fast speeds is possible. This could provide a means of ensuring data security. Since the mere act of observing a particle changes its quantum properties, recipients of information over a quantum network could instantly know, by comparing the state of the paired particle at the point of transmission to that of its partner at the point of reception, not only if a message had been decrypted, but even if it had been merely observed. To this end, the Chinese scientists—in collaboration with European partners at the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences—aim to establish a secure quantum-encrypted channel by next year, and a global network in the following decade.
It is not surprising that the first practical applications of quantum entanglement are expected to appear in the realm of cyber-security. The regular internet is vulnerable to hacking because data still flows through cables in the form of bits, into which the hacker can tap and decrypt. A bit can either represent a zero or a one, but not both at the same time. The quantum internet, on the other hand, doesn’t have this problem because it utilizes qubits, a quantum state a particle is in when it represents both zero and one simultaneously. If a hacker tried to access a stream of qubits, the qubits would seem to have values that are either zero or one, but not both. This means that by trying to access information in the stream of qubits, the hacker would just end up destroying the data he is trying to hack.
Beyond this, the term “quantum internet” doesn’t actually have a clear definition. “Quantum internet is still a vague term,” explains physicist Thomas Jennewein of the University of Waterloo.
In summary, the research being conducted by Dr. Ren, his colleagues, and their European partners on data teleportation via quantum entanglement is significant because it represents the scaling-up of this technology to the point where its practical application is imminent. Before 2017, no previous experiments in this field had been done over comparable distances with such reliable results. The fact that global partners are planning to establish secure quantum channels based on these experiments in the near future ensures not only that such networks will soon be a global reality, but also that scientists will be delving ever deeper into the mystery of quantum entanglement. This research places humanity on the threshold of a new world of quantum applications that we can scarcely imagine today.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Yale Scientific Synapse High School Essay Contest!
A Plantastic Solution to an Aqueous Problem
By John Lin
Water covers about 71 percent of Earth’s surface, but throughout the world, this natural resource appears to be drying up.1 Due to global warming, desertification is rapidly spreading across the world. The world is finding that critical freshwater reserves are disappearing in the face of increasing population growth.2 Just as more water is needed, less water is available. However, cacti have dealt with this problem for millennia and have adapted to arid climates. We can learn from these prickly plants to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems.
Our current stopgap measures are failing. Most modern water storage methods use jerry cans, lidded buckets, and clay pots but require backbreaking labor that is predominantly done by females.3 UNICEF estimates that across the world, women and girls spend 200 million hours collecting water each day, forcing them to abandon their education and employment and enter a cycle of poverty and dependence.4 Additionally, this water is often dirty, resulting in major waterborne disease outbreaks that devastate developing nations, Finally, these buckets require a tradeoff between water supplies, temperature, and sanitation. For example, clay pots lose water to evaporation but are cooler.5 On the other hand, buckets create a warm environment ripe for bacteria growth.
Instead of using costly chemical reactions to synthesize hydrogen and oxygen, scientists can find a cheap solution in biomimicry. Succulent plants are uniquely adapted to absorb and retain water from their arid surroundings. Learning from them will help us efficiently deal with desertification and minimize water conflicts. Cacti are among the most effective succulents, surviving in habitats from the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian steppe.6 Semiarid and arid areas experience varying levels of rainfall, demanding different tissue thicknesses and structural designs. We should study cacti to produce location-specific containers that can absorb and store safe water at optimal temperatures.
Scientists should explore water retrieval methods including cacti’s water absorption. Cacti build shallow roots that can branch out, allowing them to react quickly to rainfall.7 We can utilize capillary action, much like plant roots, to gather water at a cheap energy cost. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of the Sciences are studying artificial root systems that could store rainwater.8 Some cacti also store fog water, thanks to spines that collect water molecules. Scientists from Beihang University are already developing similar structures by electrospinning polyimide and polystyrene.9 Moreover, this could help improve filtration systems. Dr. Norma Alcantar from the University of South Florida found that prickly pear cactus gum effectively removes sediment and bacteria from water.1 0 We could eliminate common diseases, free women to pursue studies, leisure, or careers, and save millions of lives.
Researchers can also improve water storage by focusing on cacti because of their high water retention. Because of their fleshy tissue, many cacti can hold large amounts of water. In fact, Charles Gritzner, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geography at South Dakota State University, notes that some can store up to 2 tons of water, or 1,800 liters.1 1 We can learn from their thick structures to maximize the quantity of water stored. Cacti also have unique structural designs including protective hair to deflect sunlight, which defends against dangerous heat levels.1 2 Cacti have additionally developed waxy skin to prevent water loss.1 3 We can combine this with biodegradable material to promote environmental sustainability by avoiding plastic. These innovations fix the current temperature-water loss tradeoff and maximize utility.
This large, bulky bucket would be incredibly adaptable. In foggier areas like the Atacama Desert, artificial spines would help collect water, while mechanical roots would work better in drier places. The layer of gum-like lining on the inner walls of the pail would improve sanitation. The water would be protected from heat through intricate designs of folds and hair. The outer waxy coating would help preserve water while maintaining cooler temperatures. Humanitarian organizations could distribute this in developing nations, ensuring that each family has a stable, safe source of water.
The consequences of ignoring water shortages are dire because water is the most precious resource of life. Not only is approximately 60 percent of the adult human body made of water, each American uses around 80-100 gallons of water every day.1 4,15 This has promoted hygiene and eliminated disease outbreaks, with handwashing alone reducing diarrheal disease-related deaths by almost 50%.1 6 With antibiotic-resistant bacteria developing rapidly, hygiene is critical for public health. Water is also heavily used in food production, irrigating 62.4 million acres of American cropland in 2010.1 7 Agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawals each year.1 8 As global warming intensifies regional climates, more water is needed. Otherwise, the world would be torn apart by hunger and thirst.
Losing water will also have major geopolitical implications. The World Economic Forum has ranked water crises among the five most impactful global issues for the past four years.1 9 As countries compete for an ever-shrinking supply of water, wars are bound to break out. The Global Policy Forum predicts that more than 50 countries across five continents will likely be forced into water conflicts.2 0 Already, nuclear armed states such as India and Pakistan engage in water fights.2 1 The resulting wars could claim billions of innocent human lives.
Although more advanced technology is being developed, biomimicry provides a cheap, clean, and quick answer to the billions of people surviving on inadequate and unsafe water. Unless we take action, water wars, food shortages, and disease outbreaks will tear the world apart. For the sake of humanity’s survival, we must turn to cacti to guide our water foraging efforts in the developing world.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Yale Scientific Synapse High School Essay Contest!
If Science were to make a huge breakthrough in the next year, what do you think would be the most beneficial one to society? Why?
Breaking Through Ocean Acidification
1st Place Winner, Yale Scientific Magazine National Essay Competition 2017 Clara Benadon Poolesville High School, MD
As a Marylander, one of my favorite things to do is make the trek up to the Chesapeake Bay. Its sparkling waters and abundant wildlife set it apart as a prime jewel of the East Coast. Nothing can compare to the experience of paddling down the Potomac River on a sunny day, the boughs of a sycamore arching overhead.
Apart from being a stunner, the Bay provides major cultural and economic benefits. Its unique way of life is perfectly encapsulated in the small towns of Smith Island, where watermen make a living from the estuary’s riches. On a recent visit, one local said to me, “We truly build our lives around the water.” From the local fisherman to larger commercial operations, the Chesapeake provides $3.39 billion annually in seafood sales alone, part of a total economic value topping $1 trillion. The stability of these waters is endangered by the growing problem of ocean acidification. This occurs when the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed into bodies of water, causing surging acidity levels. Acidification leads to the protective carbonate coverings of shellfish to disintegrate, killing off large amounts of oysters, mussels, and scallops. Oyster reefs filter the Bay; without a thriving population, harmful pollutants run rampant. The low oxygen conditions caused by high acidity also make it hard for fish to breathe. Even with survivable oxygen levels, low pH can be fatal for fish.
The plummeting numbers of these Chesapeake staples make a dent on the economy. According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Maryland and Virginia have suffered losses exceeding $4 billion over the last three decades stemming from the decline of oyster health and distribution. High acidity causes oysters’ growth to be stunted, so that shellfish fisheries cannot profit from the smaller, thinner shells.
The losses aren’t economic alone. An estimated 2,700 species call the Bay their home, a remarkable level of biodiversity that is threatened by ocean acidification. The loss of even one species causes a ripple effect through the entire food web, sending it into a state of unbalance. According to a 2004 study in Science, the survival of threatened and nonthreatened species is closely intertwined: when an endangered species goes extinct, dependent ones suffer. Moreover, biodiversity keeps in check the amount of carbon dioxide in any body of water. Zoom out from the Chesapeake to the world ocean. Skyrocketing acidity is present in almost every aquatic biome on our planet. When pH is low, coral reefs cannot absorb the calcium carbonate that makes up their skeleton. Corals, along with snails, clams, and urchins, disintegrate en masse. A particularly disturbing image of ocean acidification is its effect on the neurology of fish. Their decision making skills are significantly delayed to the level where they sometimes swim directly into the jaws of predators.
Economically, the UN estimates that ocean acidification will take a $1 trillion bite out of the world economy by the year 2100. This massive cost has direct human implications, including health, job security, and cultural heritage. In addition, the economies of many countries are wholly dependent upon reef based tourism and other activities built around the water.
We need a solution to our world’s rapidly acidifying oceans. If science were to make a major breakthrough, solving this problem would be beneficial to our economy and ecology on an unprecedented scale. Methods that at first appeared brilliant have either been limited by their feasibility or come to be outweighed by their negative side effects, ultimately prolonging the search for a solution.
The unorthodox method of dumping enormous amounts of iron sulphate into the water is based on the principle that iron fertilizes phytoplankton, microscopic organisms found in every body of water. The energy phytoplankton gain from the iron allows them to bloom, absorbing CO 2 from the atmosphere and the ocean. When the phytoplankton die they sink to the bottom of the ocean, locking the CO 2 there for centuries. In 1988, the late oceanographer John Martin proclaimed, “Give me a half tanker of iron, and I will give you an ice age.” It is theorized that fertilizing 2% of the Southern Ocean could set back global warming by 10 years.
Why not implement this magic fix? First off, iron fertilization has come under fire for its negative side effects. A 2016 study in Nature determined that the planktonic blooms would deplete the waters of necessary nutrients. Additionally, when the large bloom dies, it would create large “dead zones,” areas devoid of oxygen and life. Side effects aside, this technique may be entirely ineffective. Carbon dioxide may simply move up the food chain when the phytoplankton are eaten and be respired back into the water. This was observed when the 2009 Lohafex expedition unloaded six tons of iron off the Southern Atlantic. The desired phytoplankton bloom it caused was promptly gobbled up by miniscule organisms known as copepods.
The alternative solution of planting kelp is less drastic. Revitalizing expansive forests of algae has proven to be effective in sucking up underwater CO 2 . Kelp grows as quickly as 18 inches a day, and once established offers the added benefits of providing a habitat for marine species and removing anthropogenic nutrient pollution. Researchers from the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, who have been monitoring the capability of this process, have found that kelp forests are effective at diminishing acidification on a local scale. While planting carbonsucking species across the ocean would not be a feasible global solution, kelp forests could help solve the acidification crises found in less expansive areas.
To date, there is not one straightforward fix to combat ocean acidification and its corrosive effects. If a scientific breakthrough were to occur, it would perhaps be comprised of a combination of methods. However, as science and technology continuously evolve, the key to deacidifying our oceans may well turn out to be something beyond our wildest dreams.
A Revolutionary Combatant to Global Warming
2nd Place Winner, Yale Scientific Magazine National Essay Competition 2017 Arjun Marwaha Fairmont Schools, Anaheim CA
Accelerated industrialization and incredible innovation by the human species has completely morphed our 4.54 billion year-old planetary home in just a few centuries. Through feats of agriculture and language, humans have profoundly suggested superiority over all domains that dwell on Earth. Just recently, the culmination of human capability appears evident; through scientific means such as CRISPR’s gene splicing technique and Elon Musk’s inconceivable vision to send people around the moon, humanity is on the verge of a new creation: a feasible “dominance” over our galaxy.
Nonetheless, several ramifications have scarred our Earth ever since humans have undertook these robust, industrial actions. As first priority, scientists should direct their focus onto preserving our planet from the cataclysmic effects of the greenhouse effect — the trapped carbon dioxide gas in Earth’s atmosphere which thereby generates additional heat into our planet. This can be achieved by developing a renewable energy-based device to chemically convert carbon dioxide into clean products, which in turn will inherently benefit our environment and most definitely the society with the future generation of useful, renewable products.
One prominent solar example of this was physically engineered at the University of Illinois in Chicago, by mechanical engineer Amin Salehi-Khojin, in July of 2016. In their prototyping phase, the research team was able to construct a device that can absorb carbon dioxide, utilize sunlight to break CO2 into “syngas” (gas similar to hydrogen and carbon monoxide), and then use this synthesized gas directly as diesel or be turned into other liquid fuels. Just from this experiment alone, it is discernible that the potential to create such a device to eliminate the excess carbon dioxide exists within the scientific community; thus one can expect multiple breakthroughs in this field in the coming year alone, from solar to maybe even wind based technology. Furthermore, this prototype exemplifies the truly infinite possibilities that renewable energy sources can harness by converting the harmful gas into beneficial compounds.
Indisputably, this methodology has positive consequences, with little to no risk, hence producing an overall positive for both the Earth’s maintenance, and all animals and humans in regards to air quality. However, one may argue that this “breakthrough” has existed for epochs: plants, as they convert the carbon dioxide from the air into valuable sugars through the cyclical, self-sufficient process known as photosynthesis. But due to recent industrialization leading to deforestation, plants in general are becoming more and more rare in an industrial-based city. So without having the plants absorb the toxins and carbon dioxide in the air, the breeding ground for extreme pollution in cities, like New Delhi, India, exists. This eventually triggers an urgent necessity for renewable methods to get rid of these pollutants and toxins; and if plants cease to exist in harsh climates where toxins exist, then this innovative technique of splitting the carbon dioxide into useful products surely will have the ability to stay in industrial cities like these; and if they have capability to withstand the worst toxins, they surely will have the staying power in the international market.
In addition to its efficiency, the mere utilization of such a technology will sincerely resonate with the scientific community. Since numerous attempts have been made by scientists to find sustainable solutions to the greenhouse effect, the community — and more so the public — are desperate for a panacea. This solution not only thrives off the absorption of carbon dioxide, but it also creates several efficient products including but not limited to gaseous compounds that can provide liquid fuel or diesel, thereby acting as a detriment to further carbon emissions. Now, the world has seen this technology exist in one small laboratory. Through extensive research on maximizing the utility of the materials, the next massive breakthrough will be attempting to scale this technology to the international market, while ensuring that this device can be inexpensive as possible so that the scientific community can make some slot of profit. For this effective cost and efficient design, this device can essentially gain international acclaim after scientists give their approval to showcase a brand of these carbon emission combatants, all of which exist in different shape or form but run on renewable, green energy.
Without a cast of a doubt, the renewably-energized devices will completely revolutionize our approach to global warming. By developing a method that can concurrently reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and generating “split” products that promote green energy, the scientific community would absolutely gain the same recognition of this breakthrough as, for instance, circulating two men around the moon. This ideology, in effect, prompts people to question who they really are. Scientists are curious and explorative. But can they halt this mindset and instead focus on a more impeding dynamic: introspection of our character. Thus, it is only ethically sound that we as humans understand one blatant reality: our curiosity has, in essence, disrupted the nature of our Earth. So, it is only morally correct that we humans disband from our brigades in space, leave the hospital’s dissections and illnesses, and truly save our only home known to man.
Congratulations to the winners of the third Yale Scientific Synapse High School Essay Contest!
This year’s essay prompt was: “How does bias affect the course of scientific research? Discuss how public and personal bias has hindered and facilitated scientific progress.”
The Duality of Bias
By rocel beatriz balmes 1st place winner, yale scientific magazine national essay competition 2014 haines city high school lake alfred, florida.
Traditionally defined as a partiality towards particular people, objects, or beliefs, bias has developed a rather negative connotation—particularly in science—of resulting in unfair advantages and, thus, inaccurate results. Though this has, in effect, rendered it equivalent to a social pariah to the scientific community, throughout the years, it has persisted as a definitive barrier to scientific and social progress.
Take, for example, the emergence of “Social Darwinism” in the late 1800s. Despite the fact that Darwin focused only on biological evidence in animals and seldom mentioned ramifications for humans, public bias took the words of famed eugenicist Francis Galton and perpetuated the idea of a biologically superior race. Observing and dissecting the differences between their own fair features and the large lips and dark skin of their slaves, Americans came to the conclusion that they were the de facto superior race in all aspects of humanity, despite the lack of scientific empiricism. Instead of obtaining impartial evidence for their superiority—of which, they would actually find none—they focused their efforts on finding justification for their enslavement and systematic dehumanization of African Americans for centuries to come. Though this pseudoscience was nothing but a gross perversion of Darwin’s widely supported Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection, the concept of a harsher eugenics outlined by Vacher de Lapouge based on this very theory and the idea of white supremacy became the underpinnings of Nazi Germany’s eugenics agenda. This form of scientific racism, verified only by the bias of a racist, ethnocentric society led to the creation of global selective breeding programs that eliminated—and, in fact, continue to eliminate—millions of innocent people leaving only masses of unrealized potential for scientific and social progress.
Unfortunately, such bias is not unique to eras of the past. From the very dawn of its conception in the mid-to-late 1900s, stem cell research has been influenced by bias. Though the utilization of the cells as transformative tissues has been revolutionary, this was only possible with the extraction of the inner cell mass in a human embryo. Such procedures, when first introduced, shocked the public as a process strikingly similar to the very destruction of human life, regardless of the undeveloped status of said human. Researchers were swayed by some of the strongest proponents of the ban of such procedures. Rather than specific religious denominations or political parties, the conflict attracted masses of people from differing backgrounds to forge a formidable opposition to the progression of health science. Consequently, some research institutions succumbed to the period’s public and private moral bias and halted experimentation. That is not to say, of course, that this bias was in any way intended with malice or aimed to deprive severely ill people of life-saving stem cells. Bias—public bias in particular—is oftentimes muddled with the fear of the unorthodox and the unconventional. In this case, though the bias did prevent scientific progression, it is important to note that it was influenced by a people that was, perhaps, not quite ready for such progression.
Alternatively, bias can provide the push that some societies need in order to develop and revolutionize. Just as most words in the English language, the word bias is double-faceted by nature. Far from the unscrupulous reputation it usually holds in science, it can also be defined as a predilection or a fondness for something—an emotion that all scientists must have in order to undertake the challenges of their satisfying yet simultaneously grating careers. Thus, through the years, bias has had the dual role of barrier and catalyst to major scientific breakthroughs.
Take, for example, the conflict with stem cell research. Stem-cell pioneer James Thomson was a researcher in one of only two laboratories in 1998 to successfully extract stem cells and, at the same time, destroy the human embryo from which they were plucked. In a New York Times Article titled “Man Who Helped Start Stem Cell War May End It”, Thomson says that he knew of the social stigma that surrounded his research and that he himself was, at first, very skeptical of the moral implications and had even worked with ethicists before he unknowingly detonated a moral bomb with his ground-breaking scientific research. When public opinion proved to be a seemingly significant barrier biased against his progress, however, instead of backing down and raising the metaphorical white flag of surrender, Thomson’s determination was only fueled by this bias against him. Working with researchers from Kyoto University, Thomson helped developed a new technique of adding a few genes to ordinary skin cells to make them function like stem cells. The scientific ramifications of this ethically sound method are infinite. Aside from the obvious benefits in research, the medical world is now bombarded with revolutionary new methods and treatments as vital tissue generation without the need to wait for donors becomes a possibility. Though the road ahead may still be paved with challenges in production for Thomson, without the public and his own personal bias of morality pressuring him, his systematic search for and discovery of an ethical method would not have become a reality.
Though one might be tempted to label the above example as the exemption to the rule of bias’ role in science, it is important to note that some of the greatest innovations and fundamental truths of our world were conceived under researchers’ personal bias of belief in their ideas. From Galileo Galilei and Louis Pasteur, to Marie Curie and Jane Goodall, these scientists lived during eras during which they were ridiculed by a public inexorably biased against them for daring to have an alternative model of the world and, in the latter individuals’ cases, a gender unorthodox for a scientist. Yet, personal conviction, determination and, yes, bias led these three scientists to international acclaim. Indeed, bias possesses a dual dynamism that allows it to stand as an obstruction to and creator of scientific progress. Suspended between these two polarities is where revolution, innovation, and true science emerge.
Everything is Awesome
By marina tinone 2nd place winner, yale scientific magazine national essay competition 2014 william h. hall high school west hartford, connecticut.
My brother and I were blessed to have our own Lego collections. Our rooms were lined with shelves and shelves of our own creations, some of them built using the instructions from the Lego sets, most of them made by ourselves. We ditched the boring booklets in the box and just made what we needed.
For my brother, his bricks were used to build complex helicopters and submarines, usually creating machines significantly more complicated than the ones designed by Lego. When I asked him about his submarine, and why all the pieces he used weren’t the same color, he told me that the submarine was supposed to be invisible, so the colors didn’t need to match. Besides, the hinges, the pulleys, the contraptions he made by himself– those were the important parts.
In my world, my Lego creations weren’t invisible. My stuffed animals needed sleds to play in the snow, houses to sleep in, school buses to go to school in the morning and come back in the evening. My machines were not as complex as my brother’s, but they worked, and my colors matched. The stuffed animals needed their yellow school buses, and I thought a sled would look nice in blue.
My brother’s Legos always impressed our parents. He definitely had the eyes of an engineer, a scientist. Now, when Mom and Dad looked into my room and watched their daughter raise a blue sled loaded with stuffed rabbits into the air, well… the kids were different, that’s for sure.
Watching my brother receive praise for his creations from our chemist and engineer parents, I thought that science was restricted to those interests. Science was for the ones who made Legos for the sake of the machine, not for the ones whose stuffed rabbits wore scarves.
I wonder– did the world think the same way I did when Rosalind Picard introduced affective computing in 1997? Upon learning more about the limbic system and its role in shaping perception, Picard realized that it was not enough to simply create new microprocessors and develop energy-efficient chips if they didn’t interact with the user’s emotions and social cues. Technology needed a more human touch to develop. When she created this novel field and opened it to the world, did her peers find such emotion-based studies unworthy? Did they believe that such “science” was an aberration to the disciplines that touted rational, sentiment-free thinking?
As Picard explained to Adam Higginbotham of Wired magazine, “I realized we’re not going to build intelligent machines until we build, if not something we call emotion, then something that functions like our emotion systems.”
Today, there is an international conference and a journal dedicated to affective computing, and labs around the world continue to further the field by finding applications for their “intelligent machines” to shape how we interact with technology every day.
What about those who supported computer science in the 1970s, back when computer science looked like a pile of hole-punched papers? Computer scientists once had to suade others of the viability of a field that would later become one of the most relevant and lucrative areas of study.
What about Gregor Mendel’s investigation with pea plants in 1866? Mendel’s contemporaries criticizing his work surely did not know that he would be credited for fathering the ever-evolving field of genetics.
What about Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine in 1798? No one believed that the ungodly idea of infecting someone to treat someone would save millions of lives.
Did those biased against the potential, the validity of these new fields and scientific pursuits, really understand their purposes and merits? With their closed interpretations of science, did they really understand what science is and can be? Over time, scientists have attempted to define science. Astronomer Carl Sagan asserted that “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” Physicist Stephen Hawking describes science as “not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion.”
Although both eloquently stated their thoughts, I am convinced by the words of chemist Marie Curie –
“I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician; he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale. We should not allow it to be believed that all scientific progress can be reduced to mechanism, machines, gearings, even though such machinery also has its own beauty.”
I remember comparing my blue sled to my brother’s invisible submarine, and I hold onto my creation a little tighter. Maybe there is something more to science than my brother’s sophisticated machines. When my younger self stood in her room, surrounded by her Lego bricks, she shouldn’t have diminished the progress she had made in her Lego laboratory, just because she didn’t use pulleys or interlocking gears.
I shouldn’t have been so close-minded against my own science, just because the world around me was biased against my ideas. From my studies, I hypothesized, I tested, I built upon my past results. My world needed science, but it didn’t need what had already been done, or was already deemed acceptable. It needed my own input. Call my ideas biased, call them faulted. But without the individuals interpreting and solving their world’s struggles using their own definitions, science would cease to develop.
Scientists continue to stand in their laboratories in child-like wonder, enraptured by the phenomena that enchant them, in all shapes and forms. Science is about discovering what you find beautiful in your world, and working, playing, in order to fulfill your personal curiosity and the needs of your imagination.
Let’s sit down. Let’s open up those boxes filled with possibilities. Throw away the instructions.
The Good and Bad of Bias and Prejudice in Science
By jonathan chan 3rd place winner, yale scientific magazine national essay competition 2014 milton academy milton, massachusetts.
Scientists take pride in using the scientific method that dictates testing a hypothesis dispassionately with objective experiments, scrutinizing that the results are replicable, presenting all the data for independent peer review, and addressing any dissenting views vigorously. Over the years, scientists have been very successful in creating the public myth that they love second guessing their own hypotheses to safeguard themselves from unintentional bias and prejudice. This rigorous process has enabled science to become exalted as an arbiter of truth by most people. In reality, however, scientists behave very differently and bias in scientific research is in fact quite common; a steadily growing number of published papers have been found to be not replicable, calling into question the validity of many widely accepted hypotheses.
Scientists are humans, with personal beliefs and values. It is human nature to look for evidence to support one’s beliefs. A fundamental flaw of human nature is its love for being proven right and hate for being proven wrong. This flaw causes scientists to unconsciously find data to confirm their preferred hypotheses or preconceptions, and they overlook – even disregard – evidence that is contrary. This phenomenon is known to psychologists as “confirmation bias”. A study of the efficacy of Chinese acupuncture is an interesting example of how cultural beliefs of scientists affect their research. Clinical experiments on acupuncture performed in Asia overwhelmingly support its therapeutic effectiveness, while trials implemented in the West show inconclusive results.
“Confirmation bias” can influence every step of any scientific experiment set up to test a hypothesis, from how the experiment is designed, to how the results are measured, to how the data are interpreted. Scientific research today is highly competitive and involves significant financial resources; a culture of publish or perish is pervasive. There is constant pressure on scientists to generate groundbreaking discoveries in drugs, materials, and technologies. The experimental methods are highly complex, and as a result, “positive results” are extremely difficult to produce, measure, and assess. No wonder many researchers become overly excited over the first piece of positive data, giving it biased prominence over the mundane, negative results and subsequently “shoe- horning” the flawed data that eventuate a faulty conclusion.
In theory, peer review by independent professionals and publications should provide an effective defense against these subtle biases. In practice, however, this process is just as prone to the same kind of confirmation biases which favors positive results over null data and negative hypotheses. A recent study on the selection process of scientific publications concludes that papers are less likely to be published and to be cited if they report “negative” results. A prominent example of this institutional bias involves a high-profile study which linked child MMR vaccination with increased incidences of autism. This study caused widespread panic and resulted in a detrimental decade-long decrease in child immunization. Although numerous studies were conducted at the same time supporting a contrary conclusion, these “negative-result” papers failed to gain the level of attention of the “positive-result” paper the retraction of which took ten years.
History is replete with incidences where biases and prejudices have not only steered scientific research, but also fostered malicious prejudice of the research on an unsuspecting public. The prejudicial practice of eugenics in the early 1900’s caused thousands of innocent people to be labeled as inferior and unjustly persecuted for no scientific reason. Lysenkoism in the 1930’s in the Soviet Union advocated bias and useless “scientific” methods to increase crop yields for political purpose, resulting in the deaths of millions of starving peasants. On the other hand, bias has not always hindered scientific progress. Scientists in the past could not have known whether their brilliant ideas were right or wrong. Many of the problems they were trying to solve were not only difficult but also inductive due to a lack of evidence. These ideas necessarily originated as wild guesses encompassing the scientists’ individual biases and prevailing societal values.
Astrophysicist Mario Livio in his book “Brilliant Blunders” provides a litany of bias- induced scientific blunders which in time transformed into breakthrough scientific discoveries. Linus Pauling was a protein specialist and was likely to be biased in favor of proteins, which fueled his erroneous prediction of the DNA structure. Charles Darwin came out with the flawed theory of inheritance because he was likely influenced by the biases of the plant and animal breeders prevalent during his career. Lord Kelvin’s inordinate devotion to tidy mathematics and his bias against messiness resulted in his inaccurate calculation of earth’s age.
However, as these unconscious personal biases and societal prejudices are “uncovered” and properly understood, this development can actually facilitate the pursuit of true scientific knowledge. Bias and prejudice in science have caused unfortunate setbacks but at the same time have generated clarity for decisive shifts in thinking and accelerated advances. The scientific process is complex, messy, and at times even boring, full of starts and stops. Yet, this system of inquiry encompasses a self-correcting tendency which has withstood the test of time and remains a stunning success in understanding nature and improving lives. As influential German philosopher Hans-Gerog Gadamer writes: a researcher “cannot separate in advance the productive prejudices that enable understanding from the prejudices that hinder it”. Preconceptions can spur as well as blind in scientific research.
Unfortunately, scientific research today may have become overly zealous in guarding itself against biases and prejudices, succumbing to politically correct social forces and avoiding tackling sensitive problems and issues which may offend the prevailing public morality. Scientific research is increasingly constrained by these forces dictating what topics can be studied, how we study them, why we need to study them, and who gets to do the studying. A bigger crisis looms should science lose its relevance and importance due to excessive fear of unavoidable bias and prejudice in scientific research. As the Wright brothers said: “If a man is in too big a hurry to give up an error he is liable to give up some truth with it.”[/vc_column_text][vc_button2 title=”Go back” style=”square” color=”sky” size=”sm” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yalescientific.org%2Fsynapse%2Fcontest-winners%2F|title:Contest%20Winners|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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Science News and The New York Times announce 10 winners of the 4th Annual STEM Writing Contest
Together Science News and The New York Times Learning Network are pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 STEM Writing Contest . Ten talented young science communicators have been named winners for their ability to explain complex scientific topics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), bioprinting, pyramids and glass frogs. The winning essays, which are published in The New York Times, were released in small batches over the course of the week.
In its fourth year, the STEM Writing Contest invited teenagers from all over the world to choose an issue or question in science, technology, engineering, math or health, and then write an engaging 500-word explanation that would be understood by scientists and nonscientists alike. Other thought-provoking topics this year included the impact of laughter on the human body, the effects of blue light from technology and multiple essays on artificial intelligence.
“We are thrilled to partner with The New York Times for the fourth year in a row on the STEM Writing Contest, which engages young people globally to explore and explain complex scientific ideas in accessible and exciting ways,” said Nancy Shute, Editor in Chief of Science News. “Science and technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace making the ability to communicate science clearly and concisely essential. It’s encouraging to see the immense potential of the next generation of science communicators. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!”
The New York Times Learning Network received over 3,000 submissions from middle and high school students between the ages of 13-19, hailing from national and international locations. To provide some guidance, the Learning Network posted an educational activity called “ Think like a science journalist ,” created by Science News Learning, a program of Society for Science and Science News that offers evidence-based science journalism and classroom lesson plans to educators.
The judging panel was comprised of esteemed individuals from the STEM education, science journalism, and professional writing fields, including educators who consistently incorporate Science News Learning materials in their classrooms. Society for Science played a pivotal role in promoting the contest to teachers and their audiences, stressing the competition’s focus on science literacy and communication. After careful evaluation by the judges, 10 talented winners were selected. In addition to the winners, the judges recognized 11 runners-up and 23 honorable mentions from the finalist pool.
The 2023 STEM Writing Contest winners are:
Andrei Li: “ I Spy With My Little Muon: Peering Inside Pyramids With Cosmic Rays ” (age 18, Monarch Park Collegiate, Toronto, Ontario)
Catherine Ji: “ Whales and Cancer: A Deep Dive Into Cetacean Genes ” (age 14, New Trier High School, Wilmette, Ill.)
Daphne Zhu: “ Pine Beetle Infestation: Epidemic of North America’s Forests ” (age 15, Lynbrook High School, San Jose, Calif.)
Erica Frischauf: “ Hearing Colors and Tasting Sounds: What Is Synesthesia? ” (age 16, Lakewood High School, Lakewood, Ohio)
Judah Spiegel: “ Computing Creativity: Can A.I. Produce Art? ” (age 14, Albany High School, Albany, Calif.)
Justin Wang: “ Nature’s Solution to Plastic Pollution: The Amazing Power of the Wax Worm ” (age 16, Alhambra High School, Alhambra, Calif.)
Leah Li: “ Glass Frogs: Clearing the Mystery of Clotting ” (age 14, Milton Academy, Pearland, Texas)
Logan Ramanathan: “ 3-D Bioprinting: A Modern Day Prometheus ” (age 17, The Nueva School, Los Altos Hills, Calif.)
Siwen Cui: “ What the Nose Knows: The Underappreciated Olfactory Sense ” (age 18, Kent School, Kent, Conn.)
Yejin (Jenny) Son: “ An Awakening of a Geological Giant: The Next Deadly Eruption of Mount Baekdu ” (age 17, Chadwick International School, Songdo, South Korea)
Read more about the winners here: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/11/learning/ai-bioprinting-and-glass-frogs-the-winners-of-our-4th-annual-stem-writing-contest.html
Michael Gonchar, editor of The New York Times Learning Network, noted, “This is our fourth year running our STEM Writing Contest for middle and high school students, and just like in previous years, we are fascinated by the diverse range of topics — from the possibilities of bioprinting and muography to the powers of glass frogs and wax worms. We were thrilled to see the wide range of topics that students chose to explore and write about in this year’s contest.”
Applicants were required to submit entries guided by mentor texts provided by both Science News and The New York Times science section. Essays were then judged on how well a scientific concept was not only captured and explained but also on other writing elements, such as an engaging hook, an explanation of why the topic is important, accurate citation of expert sources, focus and clarity as well as analysis. Effective communication of scientific concepts is a critical skill that can benefit individuals of all ages, and this competition serves as an excellent platform to develop and hone these skills.
Thank you to all of our contest judges.
From the Society for Science Community: Victoria Bampoh, Jennifer Donnelly, Phebe Martinez Fuentes, Terianne Hall, Lori Herbsman, Meghan Hess, Kehakashan Khan, Jefferson Marshall, Amanda Nix, Dawn Parker, Amy Telford, Peggy Veatch, Jieun Yoo
From The New York Times Science-Journalism Community: David Brown, Shannon Stirone
From The Learning Network Community: Kathryn Curto, Shannon Doyne, Jeremy Engle, Caroline Gilpin, Michael Gonchar, Annissa Hambouz, Simon Levien, Keith Meatto, Natalie Proulx, Trishna Ramsamooj, Katherine Schulten, Vanessa Vieux
Science News Learning Ambassadors series: Kehkashan Khan
Science News Learning Ambassadors: Susana Oliu
The New York Times and Science News are accepting submissions for the 2023 STEM Writing Contest!
National Competitions in Science and Math
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There are many national competitions for high school students interested in math, science, and engineering. Students can learn so much by participating in these events, but they also meet influential people, visit great colleges, and earn great scholarships! Visit the web sites for these competitions to find the individual deadlines and entry forms.
Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology
The Siemens Foundation in conjunction with the College Board offer an incredible opportunity for high school students in a prestigious competition called the Siemens Competition. Students undertake research projects in some area of math or science, either alone or in teams (your choice). They then present their project to a prestigious board of judges. Finalists are selected once the judges review all submissions.
The competition is highly regarded by colleges such as MIT, Georgia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon University. Students who participate can meet influential people in math and science, but they can also win big awards. The scholarships run as high as $100,000 for national awards.
Intel Science Talent Search
Intel is the sponsor of a talent search for high school seniors who have completed all coursework requirements for college. This nationwide competition is America's highly regarded as a pre-college science contest. In this contest, students mush enter as single members--no teamwork here!
To enter, students must submit a written report with tables and charts with a page limit of 20 pages.
National Science Bowl
The National Science Bowl is a highly visible educational event offered by the Department of Energy which is open to students from ninth to twelfth grades. It is a team competition, and teams must consist of four students from one school. This competition is a question and answer format, with the questions being either multiple choice or short answer.
Students first participate in regional events around the US, and those winners compete at a national event in Washington, D.C. In addition to participation in the competition itself, students will build and race a model fuel cell car. The will also have the opportunity to meet well-known scientists as they lecture on current topics in math and the sciences.
Competition for Future Architects
Are you an aspiring architect, at least 13 years of age? If so, you may be interested to know that the Guggenheim Museum and Google™ have teamed up to offer an exciting opportunity. The challenge for this competition is to design a shelter to be located on a specific spot on earth. You'll use Google tools to build your creation. Students compete for travel and money prizes. Visit the web site for specifics on the competition, and how you can get involved.
National Chemistry Olympiad
This competition is for high school chemistry students. The program is multi-tiered, meaning it starts on a local level and ends as a worldwide competition with big prize potential! It begins with your local school or community where local officials of the American Chemical Society coordinate and administer exams. Those coordinators choose nominees for the national competition, and national winners can compete with students from 60 nations.
DuPont Challenge© Science Essay Competition
Writing is an important skill for scientists, so this competition is designed for science students at least 13 years of age who can craft a great essay. This competition is unique because students are judged on the originality of their ideas, but also on things like writing style, organization, and voice. The competition is open to students in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Essays are due in January.
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Science Essay Contest: High School
+ Deadline is January 19, 2024
- The SACP High School Essay Contest is open to all students in grades 10 through 12.
- All information requested on the entry form must be included.
- The essay should have no more than 2500 characters. The essay is to be in prose (no poetry please), and be the independent work of the student. Any essay containing plagiarized material will result in rejection of the essay.
- Student essays must be submitted by a faculty member of the student’s school.
- No individual school may submit more than two essays in the high school contest.
- Failure to comply with these instructions may result in a scoring penalty or rejection of the essay.
Select ONE topic for submission. Cite all references in MLA format.
1) What is the impact of microplastics on marine ecosystems and human health? Identify alternatives to plastic and describe which industry applications they can be used in.
2) The availability of generative artificial intelligence has recently exploded. How can scientists use these tools to facilitate their work? What ethical and legal considerations should be taken when utilizing artificial intelligence?
Judging will be based on the following criteria: + Content (40%) + Creativity (20%) + Composition (30%) + Following Directions (10%)
1st Place: $500 2nd Place: $300 3rd Place: $200 Honorable Mentions (10 each): $100
What are your chances of acceptance?
Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance.
Your chancing factors
23 Writing Competitions for High School Students
What’s covered:, why should you enter a writing competition, writing competitions for high school students, how do writing competitions affect my admissions chances.
Do you dream of writing the next great American novel? Are you passionate about poetry? Do you aspire to become a screenwriter? No matter what genre of writing you’re interested in—whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or something else entirely—there’s a writing competition focused on it.
Writing competitions provide great motivation to put pen to paper (or finger to key). Moreover, they’re an excellent step toward getting published, and can ultimately start you on the path to becoming a professional writer.
One of the best ways to improve your writing is simply to write—and competitions provide an excellent impetus to do so. Writing competitions also serve as an introduction to what life is like for many writers; participants entering writing competitions will receive a prompt or must think of an original idea, compose a piece of work, and submit it for review.
Another benefit of entering a writing competition for high schoolers is that many offer cash awards and scholarships, which can be used to help with the costs of college.
Additionally, many writing competitions are run by colleges and universities, so submitting them is a great way to introduce faculty to yourself and your work. If you win an award—especially a prestigious award—it can significantly improve your odds of college acceptance.
1. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose
Type: Poetry and Prose
Submission Fee: $15
Deadline: May 1, 2023
- All secondary and undergraduate students
- Each student may send up to five total submissions across the genres of poetry and prose
- Each poetry submission may include up to six poems (maximum of ten pages single-spaced). Each prose submission may include up to three works of fiction or creative nonfiction (combined word limit of 3,500 words; excerpts are acceptable).
Adroit Prizes are awarded to emerging high school and college writers in two categories: poetry and prose. Winning pieces are considered for publication in the Adroit Journal and winners receive an award of $200. The 2023 judges are Natalie Diaz and Ocean Vuong.
2. Ten-Minute Play Contest
Submission Fee: N/A
Deadline: Passed, but the contest will reopen in 2024
Eligibility: Students in the eleventh grade in the U.S. (or international equivalent of the eleventh grade)
Guidelines: Applicants may submit only one play (10 pages maximum)
The Ten-Minute Play Contest is put on by Princeton University’s Lewis Center of the Arts. Applicants are allowed to submit one play that is no longer than 10 pages. Their submissions are judged by members of Princeton University’s Theater Program faculty.
3. Ayn Rand Anthem and The Fountainhead Essay Contests
- Anthem: $2,000
- The Fountainhead : $5,000
- Anthem: Grades 8-12
- The Fountainhead : Grades 11-12
- Anthem: Essays must be written in English only and between 600 and 1,200 words in length, double-spaced
- The Fountainhead: Essays must be written in English only and between 800 and 1,600 words in length, double-spaced
In this essay competition, students pick one of three prompts about a topic related to Ayn Rand’s books and write an essay that goes through three stages of grading. Students are graded on their clarity, organization, understanding, and ability to stay “on topic.”
4. Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize
Eligibility: Students must be in the 11th grade in the U.S. or abroad
Guidelines: Applicants may submit up to 3 poems
The Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize is another contest run by Princeton University’s Lewis Center of the Arts. Winners are chosen by judges who are both poets and members of Princeton University’s creative writing faculty. Three monetary awards are available.
5. World Historian Student Essay Competition
Eligibility: Students enrolled in grades K–12 in public, private, and parochial schools, and those in home-study programs
Guidelines: Essays should be approximately 1,000 words
Winners of this competition receive a $500 prize along with a free yearlong membership to the World History Association . To apply, you must submit an approximately 1,000-word essay responding to the following prompt:
- Submit an essay that addresses the following topic and discusses how it relates to you personally and to World History: Your view of a family story related to a historical event or your personal family cultural background, or an issue of personal relevance or specific regional history/knowledge.
6. Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest
Deadline: June 1, 2023
Eligibility: Open to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students
- Must be submitted by the student through the official Essay Contest Submission website
- Entries may include a statement about the student’s mentor; however, a mentor statement is not required
- The essay must be 6-8 pages in length, not including the Works Cited page
- The essay must use MLA documentation, including a Works Cited page and parenthetical citations in the body of the text. Use endnotes only for substantive notes. Source material that is directly quoted, paraphrased, or summarized must be cited. Quotations from the Jane Austen work under discussion should be cited as well.
The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Essay Contest is an annual writing competition aimed at fostering an appreciation for its namesake’s work. The contest is broken down into three divisions—high school, college/university, and graduate school.
First-place winners are awarded a $1,000 prize along with free registration and lodging for two nights at JASNA’s Annual General Meeting—smaller monetary awards are also given to second- and third-place essayists.
This year’s essay topic:
- In Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen’s other novels, we see proposals and marriages that are motivated by love, as well as those that are better described as arranged marriages or marriages of convenience. Many cultures today also expect arranged marriages (not the same as forced). In your essay, compare and discuss the different types of marriages or courtships found in the novels, whether those relationships are new or longstanding.
7. Bennington College Young Writers Awards
Type: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction
Deadline: November 1, 2023
Eligibility: Students in grades 9-12
- Poetry: A group of three poems
- Fiction: A short story (1,500 words or fewer) or one-act play (run no more than 30 minutes of playing time)
- Nonfiction: A personal or academic essay (1,500 words or fewer)
Bennington College has a strong history of developing writers—it’s produced twelve Pulitzer Prize winners, three U.S. poet laureates, and countless New York Times bestsellers—and the Bennington College Young Writers Awards celebrate this legacy.
In addition to offering cash awards to winners and finalists in all three categories, winners and finalists who apply and are accepted to Bennington College are also eligible for substantial scholarships.
8. Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild Contest
Type: Poetry and Essays
Deadline: November 16, 2023
- You are required to have a team of 2 or more people
- The team must be intergenerational
Guidelines: Maximum length of 500 words (approximately 2 pages)
This unique writing competition requires that entries must be submitted by a team of two people from different generations—for example, a high school student and a teacher. Contestants can compete in a number of categories and themes, each with unique submission requirements.
9. NSHSS Creative Writing Scholarship
Type: Fiction and Poetry
Deadline: October 2, 2023
Eligibility: Rising high school students graduating in 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027, and recently graduated 2023 seniors
- Poetry: Students may submit their original poetry in any style, from formal verse to free verse to experimental. The poem should be formatted as you wish it to appear in the publication.
- Fiction: Students may submit a piece of short fiction, which must be no more than 5,000 words and should not be single-spaced. The entry may be any genre of the student’s choice, including graphic novel or story.
- Must submit educator recommendation, academic resume, and current transcript with application
Winning works for this competition are chosen based on their creativity, technique, expression, and originality. Three winners are chosen in each category and each winner receives a $2,000 prize.
10. John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Contest
Eligibility: The contest is open to United States high school students in grades 9-12, U.S. students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program, and U.S. citizens attending schools overseas.
- Essays can be no more than 1,000 words but must be a minimum of 700 words. Citations and bibliography are not included in the word count.
- Essays must have a minimum of five sources.
The prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Contest is one of the most recognizable and prestigious writing competitions for high schoolers in the nation. Essays for the contest are required to describe an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1917. The first-place winner of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Contest takes home a $10,000 award and second place receives a $3,000 prize.
11. YoungArts National Writing Competition
Deadline: Opens June 2023
Eligibility: 15- to 18-year-old visual, literary, or performing artist based in the United States
Guidelines: To be released
YoungArts supports talented young artists between the ages of 15 and 18 (or grades 10-12) in 10 disciplines, including writing. Applicants can submit entries in six genres—creative nonfiction, novel, play or script, poetry, short story, and spoken word.
12. SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest
Submission Fee: $5
Eligibility: All students enrolled in grades 9-12 in U.S. public, private and home schools within the United States
- The essay should be 300-500 words
- Entries may be typed or handwritten but must be double-spaced
This high school writing contest is presented by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Journalism Education Association (JEA) to increase awareness of the importance of independent media.
Last year’s prompt was:
- While consumers are drawn toward tweets and sound bites, how can journalists tell more of the story without losing readers’ interest?
13. VSA Playwright Discovery Program Competitions
Eligibility: High school students with disabilities
- 10-minute script
- Entries may be the work of an individual student or a collaboration between two students that includes at least one student with a disability
This writing competition, presented by the Kennedy Center, is open to students ages 15-18 (or enrolled in high school) with disabilities. Writers may submit a “ten-minute” script in any genre, including plays, musicals, multimedia, video, film, TV, and podcasts.
Entries can be the work of an individual or the product of collaboration—provided that at least one of the collaborators has a disability. Multiple winners are chosen and given the chance to work with industry professionals, attend Kennedy Center professional development activities, and participate in networking opportunities.
14. Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
Eligibility: Women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school
Guidelines: No more than two poems by any one student may be submitted
For almost six decades, the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest has provided recognition, scholarships, and awards to the best female high school sophomore and junior poets. Submissions are reviewed by faculty members of Hollins University’s creative writing program and students enrolled in its M.F.A. in creative writing.
The first-place winner receives a $350 cash prize, a renewable $5,000 scholarship to Hollins University if they choose to enroll there, as well as free tuition and housing at the university’s Hollinsummer creative writing program. Their winning work is also published in Cargoes , the university’s student literary magazine.
15. Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
Submission Fee: $10 for individual entry, $30 for portfolio (can use Fee Waiver Form)
Deadline: Opens in September
Eligibility: Teens in grades 7–12 (ages 13 and up)
Guidelines: Varies by category
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is the nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. They offer 28 submission categories, including writing, critical essay, dramatic scripts, flash fiction, journalism, humor, novel writing, personal essay and memoir, poetry, science fiction and fantasy, and short story.
Works are judged by famous jurors who look for works that show originality, skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision. Students can earn a variety of scholarships through success in these competitions.
Works that celebrate individual differences or personal grief, loss, and bereavement are eligible for $1,000 scholarships. High school seniors submitting winning portfolios of six works are eligible for up to $12,500 in scholarships.
16. Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest
Type: Creative Writing and Poetry
Deadline: June 13, 2023
- Students ages 11-18 from around the world
- Students can participate as an individual or as a club, class, or group of any size
- All students must provide the contact information for an Adult Sponsor (teacher, parent, mentor, etc.)
- Creative Writing: no more than 5 pages (approximately 1,250 words)
- Poetry: no more than 2 pages
- A written reflection is required to accompany your submission, regardless of category. It is like the introduction to a book or an artist’s statement in a museum.
The 12th annual Ocean Awareness Contest is a platform for young people to learn about environmental issues through art-making and creative communication, explore their relationship to a changing world, and become advocates for positive change. Students can participate in six different categories, including poetry and spoken word, and creative writing.
This year’s prompt centers around climate issues:
- Research and choose an inspirational scientist, activist, artist, educator, or other hero who is working to solve climate change issues. Create a piece of art, writing, or media that highlights their efforts, organizations, and/or positive impacts. We are familiar with the amazing work of environmental giants like Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough. We challenge you to introduce the Bow Seat community to a Climate Hero whose work we may not know about yet – but should.
17. John Locke Global Essay Competition
Submission Fee: N/A (unless late entry)
Prize: $2,000-$10,000 toward attending any John Locke Institute program
Deadline: June 30, 2023 (must register by May 31, 2023)
Eligibility: Candidates must be no older than 18 years old on June 30, 2023 (Candidates for the Junior Prize must be no older than 14 on the same date)
Guidelines: Each essay must address only one of the questions in your chosen subject category, and must not exceed 2,000 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, footnotes, bibliography, or authorship declaration)
Students competing in this competition have the opportunity to write an essay in one of seven categories—philosophy, politics, economics, history, psychology, theology, and law. Each category has three prompts, from which students choose and respond to one.
Essays are judged on knowledge and understanding of the relevant material, the competent use of evidence, quality of argumentation, originality, structure, writing style, and persuasive force.
If you miss the deadline, you can submit a late entry up until July 10. Late entries will be charged a $20 late fee.
18. AFSA National High School Essay Contest
- Students whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate.
- Students must be in grades 9-12 in any of the 50 states, Washington, D.C, the U.S. territories, or—if they are U.S. citizens/lawful permanent residents —attending high school overseas.
Guidelines: Your essay should be at least 1,000 words but should not exceed 1,500 words (word count does not apply to the list of sources)
The AFSA Essay Contest focuses on knowledge of foreign policy and the American Foreign Service. Last year’s prompt was:
- In your essay, you will select a country or region in which the United States Foreign Service has been involved at any point since 1924 and describe, in 1,500 words or less, how the Foreign Service was successful or unsuccessful in advancing American foreign policy goals – including promoting peace – in this country/region and propose ways in which it might continue to improve those goals in the coming years.
The first-place winner receives $2,500, a paid trip to the nation’s capital with their parents from anywhere in the U.S., and an all-expenses-paid educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea. The runner-up wins $1,250 and full tuition to attend a summer session of the National Student Leadership Conference’s International Diplomacy program.
19. EngineerGirl Writing Contest
- The contest is open to individual students in the following three competition categories—Elementary School Students (grades 3-5), Middle School Students (grades 6-8), or High School Students (grades 9-12).
- You can also qualify with corresponding homeschool or international grade levels.
- High school student essays must be no more than 750 words
- You must also include a reference list of 3-10 resources
In this competition, students choose one of four prompts related to the 20 Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century and explore the technologies that have been developed in the last century and technologies that are being developed today. Students are judged based on their presentation and examples of engineering (~35%), their celebration of diversity (~50%), and their quality of writing (~15%).
20. The Blank Theatre Young Playwright’s Festival
Prize: Play is produced
Eligibility: Playwrights must be 19 years old or younger as of March 15, 2023; co-authored plays are welcome, provided all authors are 19 or younger
- Original plays or musicals of any length or genre and on any subject
- Up to three plays per playwright or team
While winners of this theater competition do not receive a cash prize, they have the unique opportunity to be mentored by leaders in the field, then will have their play directed and performed by professional artists during the following summer. The 12 best submissions are produced and professionally performed.
21. Saint Mary’s College of California River of Words Contest
Type: Poetry and Arts
- The contest is open to K-12 students, ages 5-19
- Students must be enrolled in school to be eligible
- Participants may submit up to 5 entries for poetry and 5 entries for art (total of up to 10 entries)
- Poems should not exceed 32 lines in length (written) or 3 minutes (signed)
- Collaborative poems and artwork are accepted, but only one student (chosen as the group representative) will be eligible for any prizes awarded
The River of Words contest aims to promote environmental literacy through the exchange of arts and culture. River of Words has been inspiring educators and students through this competition for over 25 years.
The goal of River of Words is to connect youth with their watersheds—the environments they live in—through engagement with art and poetry related to the idea of “place.” They look for art and poetry that shows the connection between students and the worlds around them.
22. Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
Deadline: November 6, 2023
Eligibility: Open to all 12th grade, college, and graduate students worldwide
Guidelines: Essays must be between 800 and 1,600 words in length
In this essay competition, high school seniors pick one of three prompts about a topic related to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and write an essay that goes through three stages of grading. Students are graded on their clarity, organization, understanding, and ability to stay “on topic.”
23. Writopia Lab’s Worldwide Plays Festival
Prize: Play produced
Eligibility: Playwrights ages 6 to 18
- 8 minutes maximum
- Any genre or style
- Plays should have no more than three characters
- There can be no narrator of the play who is not emotionally invested in the story
- Students must incorporate at least one of the following props or costumes —blue plates, a yellow blouse, a Valentine’s heart with the word “Love,” a flower crown, a plush hotdog, a Mardi Gras bead with jester heads, a pack of clothespins, Russian nesting dolls, a set of miniature cymbals, a lavender blouse, a lei, or a roll of aluminum foil
Since 2010, Writopia Lab has been producing, designing, and directing one-act plays submitted by young playwrights. These winning plays are then performed by New York City theater professionals. The contest looks for playwrights who embody fearlessness and imagination. Writopia Lab says, “Write deeply! Write fiercely! Write politically and personally! And don’t be afraid to write with a sense of play – they are called plays, after all.”
While we can’t know exactly how activities outside of the classroom will affect your college admissions odds, the 4 Tiers of Extracurricular Activities provide a helpful framework for understanding how colleges view your extracurriculars.
Extracurricular activities in Tiers 1 and 2 are reserved for the most exclusive and acclaimed awards, and can significantly improve your odds of college admission. By contrast, Tiers 3 and 4 are reserved for more common extracurriculars, and have less of an impact on your chances of college admission.
For example, if you place in a nationally renowned writing competition—a Tier 2 activity—this will positively affect your admissions chances. On the other hand, if you receive an honorable mention in your high school’s poetry contest—a Tier 4 activity—your admissions chances will not be significantly affected.
That said, if you are applying to an English Literature or Creative Writing program with a well-developed essay and recommendations that emphasize your commitment to language, participation in Tier 3 and 4 writing competitions could help admissions officers conceptualize your passion for your future career.
Curious how the writing competition you participated in will affect your college admission chances? CollegeVine can help! Our free chancing calculator uses a variety of factors—including grades, test scores, and extracurriculars—to estimate your odds of getting into hundreds of colleges and universities, while also providing insight into how to improve your profile.
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Essay Scholarships offer students an opportunity to stand out based on their writing. You are evaluated by how you put your thoughts on paper and not on your GPA or community service. The essay competition represents an opportunity for creative students, those with good ideas and those capable of in depth research to stand out.
Missed the deadline? Subscribe to the free monthly newsletter and get scholarship information delivered directly to you (click this link) .
Deadlines change, please check the sponsor’s website for specific dates.
Cancer Survivor Scholarship - This program is no longer being offered. Deadlines varies by state The American Cancer Society has many local divisions that ask cancer survivors to write essays about their experiences.
AES Engineering Solutions Scholarship Deadline is in early October AES Engineering offers scholarships to students to help them pay for their education. Students will be judged on their essay.
Williams-Mystic Essay Contest in Honor of Joseph Conrad Deadline is in mid October Create an essay about the ocean or any major body of water (fiction or nonfiction) using 1000 to 5000 words and submit it for consideration. The essay can be a great story or it can deal with the environment, political activism, history or nature.
Bennington Young Writers Competition Deadline is in early November High school students in grades 10 through 12 can submit their writing to the Bennington Young Writers Competition. Over 2000 students have submitted poetry, fiction and nonfiction in past years to be eligible for the $500 first place prize and the $250 second place awards.
Voice of Democracy Audio Essay Deadline is in early November Can you write? Do you have strong opinions about certain subjects? The Voice of Democracy Program is an audio essay contest for students in grades 9 through 12. If you are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories you are eligible to participate.
First Freedom Student Competition Deadline is in mid November The First Freedom Student Competition is open to 9th to 12th grade high school students. You are required to submit an essay or video commenting on the history and current-day relevance of religious freedom in our country.
Americanism Essay Contest Deadline is in early December The Fleet Reserve Association Essay Contest asks 7th through 12th grade students to write an essay up to 350 words on a different topic every year. The best essay will get a prize of a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, with $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 Savings Bonds awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each grade category. All regional winners are judged at the national level and receive a certificate of recognition.
Being an American Essay - This program is no longer being offered. Deadline is in mid December In 1000 words or less, you need to answer the question: How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?
Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Deadline is in mid December The Foot Locker Scholar Athletes program honors high school athletes who engaged in leadership activities in their communities.
To compete you need to answer three essay questions (between 200 and 350 words each) and obtain two non-family recommendations.
George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest Deadline is in late December To participate in the George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest you must do research and write an essay that deals with: an event, person, philosophy, or ideal associated with the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, or the framing of the United States Constitution.
Apprentice Ecologist Initiative Deadline is in late December An $850 educational scholarship will be awarded annually to the authors of the top Apprentice Ecologist essay in the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative™. This tax-free and merit-based scholarship is available to any full or part-time student (aged 13 to 21) who is a candidate for a degree/diploma at a primary, secondary, or accredited post-secondary educational institution from any country around the world.
Profile in Courage Essay Contest Deadline is in early January Students are asked to write a Profile in Courage, an essay of no more than 1,000 words about an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official that occurred during or after 1956, the publication date of Profiles in Courage. The official may have addressed an issue at the local, state, or national level.
GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program Deadline is in early January GE has created a scholarship program to award 20 students a year a $10,000 renewal scholarship (the maximum scholarship is $40,000).
Washington Crossing Foundation Scholarship Awards Deadline is in mid January In order to compete in the Washington Crossing Foundation Scholarship Awards, students are asked to write a one-page essay indicating why they are interested in a career in government service. Include in the essay any inspiration to be derived from the leadership of George Washington in his famous crossing of the Delaware.
National MS Society Scholarship Program Deadline is in mid January The National MS Society Scholarship Program was established to help highly qualified students who have been diagnosed with MS or who have a parent with MS achieve their dreams of going to college.
American Mensa Educational & Research Foundation Scholarship Deadline is in mid January If you’re looking for a college scholarship that is based solely on your ability to write here it is. The American Mensa Education & Research Foundation college scholarship program is based on essays written by you, no grades, academic programs or financial need issues are considered.
Union Plus Scholarship Deadline is in late January The Union Plus Scholarship Program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation. To be eligible you must the child of a union member or a union member.
DuPont Challenge Science Essay Deadline is in late January The DuPont Challenge© Science Essay Competition encourages students in grades 7 through 12 to express their enthusiasm for science by writing an essay. The essay must be at least 700 words and no more than 1000 words and it must be submitted online.
National Peace Essay Contest Deadline is in early February The Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding runs the National Peace Essay Contest. They believe that questions about peace, justice, freedom, and security are vital to civic education. Over 1,100 students submit entries to the essay contest annually.
Optimist International Essay Contest Deadline: Varies by district The Optimist International Essay Contest is sponsored by Optimist International. You must enter the contest through your local Optimist Club (each club has their own deadlines, however, all club contest are done by early February).
National Co-op Scholarship Program Deadline is in mid February Several colleges that provide cooperative education for their students are participating in the National CO-OP Scholarship . They are offering over 100 scholarships ranging up to $30,000 ($6,000 per year up to 5 years).
AFA Teens College Scholarship Deadline is in mid February The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a national nonprofit organization, has established a college scholarship to encourage teens to express their thoughts about Alzheimer’s disease and to engage the younger generation in this cause.
Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship Deadline is in mid February The $5,000 Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship is awarded to two high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities.
Spirit of Anne Frank Awards Deadline is in early March The Anne Frank Center is looking for high school seniors that have played a leadership role in their community. The Spirit of Anne Frank Award will go to a student who has exhibited some of the principles and ideals of Anne Frank.
EngineerGirl! Food Engineering Essay Deadline is in early March Every year the EngineerGirl Essay Contest asks boys and girls to write an essay about a different subject. The competition is run by the National Academy of Engineering.
Kaplun Essay Contest Deadline is in early March The Kaplun Essay Contest is broken up into two levels. Level 1 is for 7th through 9th graders, they get one essay. Level 2 - Is for 10th through 12th graders, they get another essay.
Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of the Press High School Essay Contest Deadline is in late February The Society of Professional Journalists believes that the American people need to understand and be informed about the issues in order to make decisions that impact their lives. Journalists provide this information in an accurate, comprehensive, timely and understandable manner.
Young Naturalist Awards Deadline is in early March The Young Naturalist Award is a research-based science competition for students in grades 7-12 to promote participation and communication in science. The student needs to plan and conduct a scientific investigation, one that will include observations, questions, predictions, trips into the field to gather data, and analysis.
DNA Day Essay Contest Deadline is in mid March The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) sponsors Annual DNA Day Essay Contest. Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to participate. The contest asks students to think about the important concepts of genetics.
Sylvia K. Burack Writing Award Competition - This program is no longer being offered. Deadline is in mid March The Sylvia K. Burack Writing Award is a writing contest for juniors and seniors made in memory of Sylvia K. Burack, an editor and publisher of The Writer magazine.
PFLAG National Scholarship Program Deadline is in mid March The PFLAG National Scholarship Program is sponsored by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) a national non-profit organization. In addition to the National Scholarship Program, there are many local programs, see below for more information.
Ayn Rand Institute "Anthem" Essay Contest Deadline is in mid March Anthem is a short novel written by Ayn Rand. It takes place in the future when the world has entered a dark age. Written in pre-war (1937) England, it talks about a period of time when the concept of individuality no longer exists and the word "I" has disappeared from the language.
Youth Scholarship Program Deadline is in late March The Electronic Security Association maintains the Youth Scholarship Program, which will award scholarships to two children of active-duty police officers and firefighters. The first place winner will receive $7,500 to put toward their college education and the second place winner will receive $2,500. Awards are based on a combination of academic achievement, national test scores, extracurricular participation and an essay titled, “What it means to me to have my parent or guardian involved in securing our community.”
American Foreign Service Association - National High School Essay Contest Deadline is in mid April The American Foreign Service Association has an essay competition open to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders who are required to write an essay of 1000 to 1250 words.
Signet Classics Student Essay Contest Deadline is in mid April Read a Signet Classic and write an essay. Each English teacher can only submit one junior and one senior essay. See the Penguin Books Website for more details about how the essays must be submitted. Students must be between the ages of 16-18.
Holocaust Remembrance Project Essay Contest Deadline is in mid April The Holocaust Remembrance Project is a writing contest about the Holocaust. Participants should study the holocaust and then, in an essay of no more than 1,200 words: (a) analyze why it is so vital that the remembrance, history and lessons of the Holocaust be passed to a new generation; and (b) suggest what they, as students, can do to combat and prevent prejudice, discrimination and violence in our world today.
Toby Nussbaum Contest Jewish Heritage- Writing Contest Deadline is in early May To celebrate Jewish Heritage Week the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York is sponsoring The Toby Nussbaum Jewish Heritage Writing Contest for students in the New York City school system. To enter you must write 250 to 300 words about the current year's theme.
NPG Essay Scholarship Contest Deadline is in mid April Negative Population Growth (NPG) is a national membership organization whose goal is to educate the American public and political leaders about the detrimental effects of overpopulation on our environment, resources and quality of life. One of the ways they do this is with their Annual Scholarship Contest.
Ayn Rand Institute "Fountainhead" Essay Contest Deadline is in late April The Fountainhead is a novel written in 1943 by Ayn Rand. It was an early literary success for her. Over 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide.
It is the story of Howard Roark, is a young architect who acts on principal and works in obscurity rather than changing his artistic and personal vision. His fight is to practice modern architecture as opposed to more traditional work. More information about the essay contest can be found on the Ayn Rand Institute Website. Submitted essays must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words.
Young Native Writers Essay Contest Deadline is in late April The Young Native Writers Essay Contest is open to Native American high school students with a relationship with a Native American tribal community.
Skandalaris Family Foundation Scholarship Deadline is in early May The Skandalaris Family Foundation is an independent, non-profit foundation that awards scholarships to students characterized by their special talents, leadership skills, unselfish ways, strong values, and commitment to excellence. The majority of their scholarships will be granted to residents of the State of Michigan, but the scholarship is not limited to Michigan residents.
We the Living Essay Contest - This program is no longer being offered. Deadline is in early May The essay contest asks high school students in the 10th through 12th grade to write about the book in an essay of 700 to 1500 words.
BP Community Scholarship Program Deadline is in mid May The BP Scholarship Program is sponsored by BP employees and dealers in the New York and New Jersey area.
James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program Deadline is in mid May Whether you’re interested in baking, pastry, culinary arts or some other aspect of food or hospitality management, the James Beard Foundation School Scholarships may be for you. Fourteen US and international schools are participating in this culinary scholarship and each program is somewhat different in both the amount of tuition waiver and what programs of study are eligible.
JASNA Essay Contest Deadline is in mid May The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Essay Contest celebrates the life and work of the author. Students at the high school, college and even graduate level are encouraged to enter. This essay contest is open to students worldwide.
Dream Deferred Essay Contest Deadline is in late May The Dream Deferred Essay Contest was inspired by a 1951 Langston Hughes poem, What happens to a dream deferred? Just as the Langston Hughes poem helped inspire the civil rights movement, the contest sponsors feel that essay contest will also be regarded as an opportunity for American and Middle Eastern youth to unite over the issue of advancing civil liberties in the Middle East.
Samsung Techwin America Scholarship - This program is no longer being offered. Deadline is in mid May The Samsung Techwin America Scholarship is for high school students. To enter applicants must submit a 300 word essay on: How will technology enable the collaboration process in the future?
Big Dig Scholarship - This program is no longer being offered. Deadline is in early June Make your grandchildren rich, at least in theory. This essay scholarship asks you imagine that you could bury something in your backyard that would make your heirs wealthy.
Automotive Hall of Fame Scholarship Deadline is in late June The Automotive Hall of Fame Scholarship is for high school seniors and college students with an interest in the automotive field and financial need. In addition to the eligibility requirements listed below, you need to write an essay describing your career goals and objectives for the next five years.
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Earth Science Week
Essay contest, essay contest 2023, “geoscience innovations solving problems“, about the contest.
AGI is sponsoring an essay contest to celebrate Earth Science Week 2023. The essay theme for this year is: “Geoscience Innovations Solving Problems.“
Please see below for contest guidelines.
Click here to download the essay contest entry form.
Who can enter.
The essay contest is open to any interested person in grades 6-9. You must also be a resident of the United States to enter.
What is the subject of the essay?
Your essay should focus on the topic “Geoscience Innovations Solving Problems.“
The world faces challenges in several areas including health, safe water, agriculture, infrastructure, energy, climate change, industrial development, and poverty. Geoscience professionals are continually innovating with new technologies and practices — affecting the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere — to solve problems and create healthier, more sustainable communities. Describe how one geoscience innovation is making the world a better place.
How long should the essay be?
The essay must be no more than 300 words. Longer essays will be rejected unread.
What do I need to submit?
A valid submission will contain the following information:
1. A typed essay in English of no more than 300 words, focusing on the topic “Geoscience Innovations Solving Problems.“ Each essay must be original, authentic, unpublished, the sole property of the entrant, and not previously submitted in any other contest.
2. Your personal information, printed at the top of the essay:
First and last name (as it appears on your entry form) Mailing address Phone number E-mail address Word count of essay
3. A completed and signed entry form. Print out the entry form here and send it to us when you send your essay. Entries cannot be accepted without a signed entry form.
How should I submit my essay and entry form?
Essays must be submitted electronically. Paste the text of your essay, along with your contact information, into the body of an e-mail. Essays attached as separate file attachments will not be accepted. Electronic submissions must be sent to [email protected] with the subject heading as “ESW 2023 Essay Contest.”
Entry forms may be submitted electronically as an attachment or by mail. Fill out your form, including the signature of a parent or guardian. Electronically submitted permission forms must be scanned and sent, along with essays, to [email protected] with the subject heading as “ESW 2023 Essay Contest.”
All mailed entry forms must be sent to:
Earth Science Week 2023 Essay Contest American Geosciences Institute 4220 King Street Alexandria, VA 22302-1502
IMPORTANT: Whether you use mail or e-mail, you must still submit a completed and signed entry form. You may mail the form separately to the address above, or scan the completed form and send it electronically along with your essay. If you mail the entry form separately, please indicate WHEN you sent your essay electronically.
If you have any problems submitting your essay, please e-mail the Earth Science Week staff at [email protected] .
When is the deadline?
All submissions must be received electronically by 5 p.m. ET, Friday, October 13, 2023.
Entry forms may be submitted electronically or by mail. The deadline for emailing your entry form is 5 p.m. ET, Friday, October 13, 2023. Mailed entry forms must be postmarked no later than October 13, 2023.
How will the essays be judged?
The essays will be judged by a panel of geoscientists on grammar, content, presentation, creativity, and, most importantly, relevance to and incorporation of the topic.
What are the prizes?
The selected entry will win $300 and a copy of an AGI publication. The winner's and finalists' names and entries will be posted on the Earth Science Week website. No cash substitution for prizes will be permitted, and prizes are nontransferable.
Additional Rules: By submitting an entry, an entrant represents that the essay is an original work, and the entrant is the sole owner of all rights to the essay. An entrant also agrees to allow the American Geosciences Institute to use his or her name to post on the AGI web site, without compensation unless prohibited. Each entrant retains his or her rights to their essay but grants to AGI a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the essay, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any AGI purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion. AGI will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses. The American Geosciences Institute, its agents and contractor, are not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, incomplete, or postage-due entries. Contest void where prohibited or restricted by law. AGI reserves the right to cancel the contest or modify these rules at its discretion. Decisions of AGI are final and binding.
Contest Winners from past years
2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003
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Our 2023-24 Student Contest Calendar
Here are 10 challenges to help us celebrate our 25th anniversary — including one open to both teachers and teenagers.
By The Learning Network
Our annual Contest Calendar is probably the single most powerful thing we publish all year. Teachers tell us they plan their classes around our challenges, and tens of thousands of teenagers across the globe participate by creating narratives, profiles, opinion pieces and reviews, podcasts, videos, illustrations and photo essays.
For us, these contests are an honor and a joy to host. We love learning from young people — about what moves them and makes them mad, what intrigues and confuses and delights and defines them.
Every summer, we tinker with our offerings to keep them fresh, and we’ve made some significant changes this time around.
To start, in August, The Learning Network will celebrate its 25th anniversary, and we’re marking it by running our first-ever challenge that is open to our full audience, both teachers and teenagers. We hope together you’ll help us tell a rich story about what it’s like to be in high school in 2023.
Like educators all over, we’ve been spurred by the advent of generative artificial intelligence to make creative tweaks to our offerings. This year, we’re putting more emphasis on the parts of the composing process that are, well, human. A glance at the 10 descriptions below might show you that elements like voice, point of view, reflection, making connections and building community are more central than ever. We’ve invented new contests and updated old ones, and we’ll be emphasizing process as well as product throughout. We also have a full writing curriculum to help support this work.
If you need a little encouragement to participate, we recommend two pieces. Students might start with “ ‘I Was Enough’: How I Stopped Trying to Sound Smart and Found My Genuine Writing Voice ,” by a teenager who reflects on how our competitions helped her grow. If you are a teacher, our reader-submitted 10 Reasons to Send Student Work Out Into the World might be compelling — especially, perhaps, reason number 10.
To download a PDF version of this contest calendar, click here . Questions? Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more, write to us at [email protected] or post a comment here.
Aug. 16-Oct. 4, 2023
What High School Is Like in 2023: A Multimedia Challenge for Teachers and Teens
What can you show or tell us that might help explain what it’s like to be an educator or a student in a secondary school right now?
We’re inviting you to contribute to a collective portrait of what it means to be in high school today, told by those living it.
All who work in any capacity in a secondary school, or are students over 13 in one, are invited to document, reflect and express themselves on any aspect, big or small, of their experience there. We want to know what’s hard, but we also want to know where and how you find meaning and joy.
As with our original Coming of Age contest — the blueprint for this effort — you can submit writing or images, audio or video. You can send us artifacts, such as photos from your camera roll, or create something new. And you can work alone or in a group, with others your age or across ages, roles and even schools. Each submission must be accompanied by a short artist’s statement.
Here are the contest rules and submission form , and here are 15 questions and a step-by-step guide that can help you brainstorm ideas.
Oct. 4-Nov. 1, 2023
My Tiny Memoir: Our 100-Word Personal Narrative Contest
Can you tell a meaningful and interesting true story from your life in just 100 words? That’s the challenge we posed to teenagers last fall with our 100-Word Personal Narrative Contest, a storytelling form popularized by Modern Love’s Tiny Love Stories . The answer, we discovered, was a resounding yes, so we’re bringing it back for Year 2.
Here are this year’s rules and guidelines . For more inspiration, read the work of last year’s winners , or follow this step-by-step guide for participating .
Nov. 1-Dec. 6, 2023
Live! Teenagers as Critics: Our Review Contest
Review a book, movie, restaurant, album, theatrical production, video game, dance, TV show or art exhibition, with advice from New York Times critics to help.
This year’s rules and guidelines follow last year’s with one big change: Anything you choose to review must have debuted this year. (That means not that you watched a movie, read a book or heard an album for the first time this year, but that the work premiered in 2023.)
To see how it’s done, take a look at the work of last year’s winners and visit our related step-by-step guide for writing a review .
Dec. 6, 2023-Jan. 10, 2024
Thinking Made Visible: Our One-Pager Challenge
We’re once again ending the fall semester with an invitation that we hope is accessible and fun for students across the curriculum: Make a one-pager in response to any article, video, graph, photo essay or podcast published in The New York Times in 2023 (or early 2024).
The rules and guidelines will stay largely the same as last year’s . Let our step-by-step guide walk you through the process, and the work of these winners inspire you. To help you find content you will enjoy, we will also publish a collection of free links to over 75 pieces about young people published across sections of NYTimes.com this fall.
Jan. 10-Feb. 14, 2024
New! How to … : An Informational Writing Contest
Following the example of the long-running Tip column from The New York Times Magazine, write a short description of how to do (almost) any task.
As long as your topic is appropriate for a family newspaper, you can explain whatever you like, including tasks that Tip has already taken on. But you must find, interview and quote one expert on the subject throughout your piece.
We’ll be publishing more materials soon, but until then, check out both the Tip column and our lesson plan that breaks its formula down. For advice on finding topics and experts, read this piece from Times Insider about how the column is constructed.
Feb. 14-March 13, 2024
New! Where We Are: Photo Essays About Community
Inspired by the immersive New York Times series Where We Are , which focuses on young people and the spaces where they create community, we invite students to work alone or with others to make photo essays about the communities that interest them.
You can document any kind of offline community you like and feature people of any age. Then tell us about it by sending five to seven images with captions and a short introduction. Stay tuned for a related teaching guide, but to see some stunning examples, scroll through the series and explore pieces like this one about Black debutantes , this one about a Texas campus ministry , this one about band kids or this one about a Korean American youth camp .
Feb. 28-March 27, 2024
Updated! Playing With Words: Our Vocabulary Video Contest
Produce a 15-second video about the meaning of one of our Words of the Day .
Here are last year’s rules and guidelines , which will stay the same except for one detail: You can work only with words published in our W.O.T.D. column after June 1, 2023.
For inspiration, take a look at the work of past winners .
March 13-April 17, 2024
Updated! Open Letters: Our New Opinion Writing Contest
Our Student Editorial Contest ran for a decade, and we received truly extraordinary work , but it’s time for a refresh. This year, we’re asking you to draw on the same skills and passions to make your case, but this time in the form of an open letter.
An open letter is a published letter of protest or appeal usually addressed to an individual but intended for the general public. Martin Luther King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail , the recent letter signed by over 1,000 tech leaders about the dangers of A.I. and this funny 2020 letter addressed to Harry and Meghan are all examples of this rich tradition.
Just as we did for the Editorial Contest, we invite you to make an argument in 450 words about something that matters to you, and persuade us that we should care, too. But this time, you must address yourself to a specific target audience or recipient, institution or group — one that has the power to make meaningful change.
Whether you choose your parents, teachers, school board members or mayor; a member of Congress; the head of a corporation; or a metonym like “Silicon Valley” or “The Kremlin,” ask yourself, What do I care about? Who can make changes, big or small, local or global, to address my issue or problem? What specifically do I want them to understand and do? And how can I write this as an “open letter,” meaningful not just to me and the recipient, but to a general audience?
More information will be published soon. Until then, you can find ideas and inspiration in our related writing unit and via the work of past Editorial winners .
April 17-May 15, 2024
Audio Stories: Our Podcast Contest
Make an original podcast of five minutes or less that informs or entertains listeners.
Here are last year’s rules and guidelines , which will stay largely the same. For inspiration, listen to the work of past winners and visit the related writing unit .
June 7-Aug. 16, 2024
Updated! Voice and Choice: Our Summer Reading Contest
As we have for 14 years now, we’ll be asking you to tell us what got your attention in The Times and why. But this year, each week we’ll invite you to tell us in a different way.
What will that look like? Every Friday for 10 weeks, we’ll post a new invitation, like this one — except that some weeks, we’ll ask for written responses, while other weeks, we’ll ask for video, audio or visual reactions of some kind.
We’ll publish more details in the spring, but the essence of the contest will stay the same, as will most of the rules and guidelines . For inspiration, take a look at the work of past winners and the related writing unit .
All School Year
Our Conversation Challenge for Weekly Current Events
We invite students to react to the news via our daily writing prompts , and each week, we publish a selection of their comments in a roundup for the world to read . We will also give a shout-out to new schools that join the conversation.
A Few More Details About Our Contests
Why do we run so many contests? We believe in student voice. We want young people to be active content creators, not just consumers. And we’re proud to offer places where they can create for an authentic audience of students, teachers, parents and other readers from around the world.
Here are more details:
The work students send us is always considered by our staff and other experts , including Times journalists, as well as educators from partner organizations or professional practitioners in a related field. Judging for our contests is blind. That means we see only the entries themselves, not student names or schools, when we make our decisions.
Winners get their work published on The Learning Network. Some may also be featured in a special section of the print New York Times.
Anyone who submits to our contests retains the copyright for the work, even after we publish it.
About two months after each contest closes, we’ll announce the winners, runners-up and honorable mentions. We usually celebrate dozens of students each time.
On the day each contest begins, we will add a link here, on this page, to the contest announcement so students and teachers can submit entries. All contests except Summer Reading begin and end on Wednesdays.
Students can enter as many contests as they want, but they can submit only one entry per contest. Our Summer Reading Contest, however, offers a fresh opportunity to submit each week for 10 weeks.
Students’ entries must be original and fundamentally their own. An entry must not be published elsewhere at the time of submission, including in a school newspaper, on a radio station’s website or in a literary magazine.
All of our contests are open to students around the world ages 13 to 19 who are in middle school or high school, except “What High School is Like in 2023,” which is open only to secondary students. College students cannot submit entries. However, high school students (including high school postgraduate students) who are taking one or more college classes can participate. Students attending their first year of a two-year CEGEP in Quebec can also participate. In addition, students ages 19 or under who have completed high school but are taking a gap year or are otherwise not enrolled in college can participate. Note: The children and stepchildren of New York Times employees are not eligible to enter these contests, nor are students who live in the same household as those employees.
Want to make sure you never miss a contest announcement? Sign up for our free weekly newsletter , or follow us on Twitter and Facebook .
We can’t wait to see what you’ll create this year!
- Grades 6-12
- School Leaders
Win a Hands-On Science Kit + $100 Gift Certificate!
The Best Student Writing Contests for 2023-2024
Help your students take their writing to the next level.
When students write for teachers, it can feel like an assignment. When they write for a real purpose, they are empowered! Student writing contests are a challenging and inspiring way to try writing for an authentic audience— a real panel of judges —and the possibility of prize money or other incentives. We’ve gathered a list of the best student writing contests, and there’s something for everyone. Prepare highly motivated kids in need of an authentic writing mentor, and watch the words flow.
1. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
With a wide range of categories—from critical essays to science fiction and fantasy—The Scholastic Awards are a mainstay of student contests. Each category has its own rules and word counts, so be sure to check out the options before you decide which one is best for your students.
How To Enter
Students in grades 7-12, ages 13 and up, may begin submitting work in September by uploading to an online account at Scholastic and connecting to their local region. There are entry fees, but those can be waived for students in need.
2. YoungArts National Arts Competition
This ends soon, but if you have students who are ready to submit, it’s worth it. YoungArts offers a national competition in the categories of creative nonfiction, novel, play or script, poetry, short story, and spoken word. Student winners may receive awards of up to $10,000 as well as the chance to participate in artistic development with leaders in their fields.
YoungArts accepts submissions in each category through October 13. Students submit their work online and pay a $35 fee (there is a fee waiver option).
3. National Youth Foundation Programs
Each year, awards are given for Student Book Scholars, Amazing Women, and the “I Matter” Poetry & Art competition. This is a great chance for kids to express themselves with joy and strength.
The rules, prizes, and deadlines vary, so check out the website for more info.
4. American Foreign Service National High School Essay Contest
If you’re looking to help students take a deep dive into international relations, history, and writing, look no further than this essay contest. Winners receive a voyage with the Semester at Sea program and a trip to Washington, DC.
Students fill out a registration form online, and a teacher or sponsor is required. The deadline to enter is the first week of April.
5. John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest
This annual contest invites students to write about a political official’s act of political courage that occurred after Kennedy’s birth in 1917. The winner receives $10,000, and 16 runners-up also receive a variety of cash prizes.
Students may submit a 700- to 1,000-word essay through January 12. The essay must feature more than five sources and a full bibliography.
6. Bennington Young Writers Awards
Bennington College offers competitions in three categories: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), and nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). First-place winners receive $500. Grab a poster for your classroom here .
The contest runs from September 1 to November 1. The website links to a student registration form.
7. The Princeton Ten-Minute Play Contest
Looking for student writing contests for budding playwrights? This exclusive competition, which is open only to high school juniors, is judged by the theater faculty of Princeton University. Students submit short plays in an effort to win recognition and cash prizes of up to $500. ( Note: Only open to 11th graders. )
Students submit one 10-page play script online or by mail. The deadline is the end of March. Contest details will be published in early 2024.
8. Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students
The Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize recognizes outstanding work by student writers in 11th grade. Prizes range from $100 to $500.
Students in 11th grade can submit their poetry. Contest details will be published this fall.
9. The New York Times Tiny Memoir Contest
This contest is also a wonderful writing challenge, and the New York Times includes lots of resources and models for students to be able to do their best work. They’ve even made a classroom poster !
Submissions need to be made electronically by November 1.
10. Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
The deadline for this contest is the end of October. Sponsored by Hollins University, the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest awards prizes for the best poems submitted by young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school. Prizes include cash and scholarships. Winners are chosen by students and faculty members in the creative writing program at Hollins.
Students may submit either one or two poems using the online form.
11. The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers
The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers is open to high school sophomores and juniors, and the winner receives a full scholarship to a Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop .
Submissions for the prize are accepted electronically from November 1 through November 30.
12. Jane Austen Society Essay Contest
High school students can win up to $1,000 and publication by entering an essay on a topic specified by the Jane Austen Society related to a Jane Austen novel.
Details for the 2024 contest will be announced in November. Essay length is from six to eight pages, not including works cited.
13. Rattle Young Poets Anthology
Open to students from 15 to 18 years old who are interested in publication and exposure over monetary awards.
Teachers may choose five students for whom to submit up to four poems each on their behalf. The deadline is November 15.
14. The Black River Chapbook Competition
This is a chance for new and emerging writers to gain publication in their own professionally published chapbook, as well as $500 and free copies of the book.
There is an $18 entry fee, and submissions are made online.
15. YouthPlays New Voices
For students under 18, the YouthPlays one-act competition is designed for young writers to create new works for the stage. Winners receive cash awards and publication.
Scroll all the way down their web page for information on the contest, which accepts non-musical plays between 10 and 40 minutes long, submitted electronically. Entries open each year in January.
16. The Ocean Awareness Contest
The 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest, Tell Your Climate Story , encourages students to write their own unique climate story. They are asking for creative expressions of students’ personal experiences, insights, or perceptions about climate change. Students are eligible for a wide range of monetary prizes up to $1,000.
Students from 11 to 18 years old may submit work in the categories of art, creative writing, poetry and spoken word, film, interactive media and multimedia, or music and dance, accompanied by a reflection. The deadline is June 13.
17. EngineerGirl Annual Essay Contest
Each year, EngineerGirl sponsors an essay contest with topics centered on the impact of engineering on the world, and students can win up to $500 in prize money. This contest is a nice bridge between ELA and STEM and great for teachers interested in incorporating an interdisciplinary project into their curriculum. The new contest asks for pieces describing the life cycle of an everyday object. Check out these tips for integrating the content into your classroom .
Students submit their work electronically by February 1. Check out the full list of rules and requirements here .
18. NCTE Student Writing Awards
The National Council of Teachers of English offers several student writing awards, including Achievement Awards in Writing (for 10th- and 11th-grade students), Promising Young Writers (for 8th-grade students), and an award to recognize Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines.
Deadlines range from October 28 to February 15. Check out NCTE.org for more details.
19. See Us, Support Us Art Contest
Children of incarcerated parents can submit artwork, poetry, photos, videos, and more. Submissions are free and the website has a great collection of past winners.
Students can submit their entries via social media or email by October 25.
20. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry & Prose
The Adroit Journal, an education-minded nonprofit publication, awards annual prizes for poetry and prose to exceptional high school and college students. Adroit charges an entry fee but also provides a form for financial assistance.
Sign up at the website for updates for the next round of submissions.
21. National PTA Reflections Awards
The National PTA offers a variety of awards, including one for literature, in their annual Reflections Contest. Students of all ages can submit entries on the specified topic to their local PTA Reflections program. From there, winners move to the local area, state, and national levels. National-level awards include an $800 prize and a trip to the National PTA Convention.
This program requires submitting to PTAs who participate in the program. Check your school’s PTA for their deadlines.
22. World Historian Student Essay Competition
The World Historian Student Essay Competition is an international contest open to students enrolled in grades K–12 in public, private, and parochial schools, as well as those in home-study programs. The $500 prize is based on an essay that addresses one of this year’s two prompts.
Students can submit entries via email or regular mail before May 1.
23. NSHSS Creative Writing Scholarship
The National Society of High School Scholars awards three $2,000 scholarships for both poetry and fiction. They accept poetry, short stories, and graphic novel writing.
Apply online by October 31.
Whether you let your students blog, start a podcast or video channel, or enter student writing contests, giving them an authentic audience for their work is always a powerful classroom choice.
If you like this list of student writing contests and want more articles like it, subscribe to our newsletters to find out when they’re posted!
Plus, check out our favorite anchor charts for teaching writing..
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The Best Essay Writing Contests of 2023
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Showing 79 contests
World historian student essay competition.
World History Association
The World Historian Student Essay Competition is an international competition open to students enrolled in grades K–12 in public, private, and parochial schools, and those in home-study programs. Membership in the World History Association is not a requirement for submission. Past winners may not compete in the same category again.
💰 Fee: FREE
Deadline: May 01, 2023 (Expired)
African Diaspora Award
Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc.
Submissions are open for Kinsman Quarterly’s African Diaspora Award. Top winners receive prizes up to $500 USD and publication within the Black Diaspora anthology. No entry fee required. Those eligible should submit an original, unpublished work in English that features themes of the African diaspora by July 15, 2023.
2nd: $250 | 3rd: $100 + Publication
Deadline: July 15, 2023 (Expired)
Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Script Writing, Short Story, Young Adult
Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award
The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award is committed to discovering new writers, as well as superlative books by established authors and, upon discovery, sharing those writers and their works with new readers. There are a large number of both fiction and non-fiction categories you can enter.
Deadline: June 15, 2023 (Expired)
Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Science Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller
International Essay Contest
Institute for Youth in Policy
You've been elected leader of your country. What would you say during your inaugural address to inspire the citizens of your country, including those of every race, religion, political party, and creed?
Publication in YIP Magazine
Deadline: December 11, 2023
Artificial Intelligence Competition
There is no topic relating to technology that brings more discussion than artificial intelligence. Some people think it does wonders. Others see it as trouble. Let us know your opinion about AI in this competition. Include experiences you have had with AI. 300-word limit. Winners will be selected January 1, 2024. Open to anyone, anywhere.
Deadline: December 15, 2023
Essay, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story
Narratively 2023 Memoir Prize
Narratively is currently accepting submissions for their 2023 Memoir Prize. They are looking for revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view. The guest judge is New York Times bestselling memoirist Stephanie Land.
$1,000 and publication
Deadline: November 30, 2023
Essay, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction
100 Word Writing Contest
Can you write a story using 100 words or less? Pieces will be judged on creativity, uniqueness, and how the story captures a new angle, breaks through stereotypes, and expands our beliefs about what's possible or unexpectedly delights us. In addition, we are looking for writing that is clever or unique, inspires us, and crafts a compelling and complete story. The first-place prize has doubled to $2,000 USD.
2nd: writing coach package
Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult, Children's, Poetry, Romance, Short Story, Suspense, Travel
WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
WOW! Women On Writing
Seeking creative nonfiction essays on any topic (1000 words or less) and in any style--from personal essay and memoir to lyric essay and hybrid, and more! The mission of this contest is to reward bravery in real-life storytelling and create an understanding of our world through thoughtful, engaging narratives. Electronic submissions via e-mail only; reprints/previously published okay; simultaneous submissions okay; multiple submissions are okay as long as they are submitted in their own individual e-mail. Open internationally.
2nd: $300 | 3rd: $200 | 7 runner-ups: $25 Amazon Gift Cards
Deadline: October 31, 2023 (Expired)
The Letter Review Prize for Books
The Letter Review
The Letter Review Prize for Books is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Seeking most unpublished (we accept some self/indie published) novels, novellas, story collections, nonfiction, poetry etc. 20 entries are longlisted.
$1000 USD shared by 3 winners
Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult
Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction
The Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction (0 - 5000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Accepting most forms of Nonfiction. Three winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are longlisted.
$1000 (shared by 3 winners)
Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Humor
Bergen International Literary Festival
Write your story about the climate crisis in a poem or a personal essay.
Deadline: October 15, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Science Writing, Young Adult
The Goldilocks Zone
Sunspot Literary Journal
Sunspot Lit seeks a story, essay, excerpt from longer prose pieces, artwork, graphic novel, or poem that combines excellence in craft with reader or audience appeal. Feedback for fiction and nonfiction submissions available for additional fee.
Deadline: September 30, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Script Writing, Short Story
Indignor Play House Annual Short Story Competition
Indignor House Publishing
Indignor House Publishing is proud to announce that our annual writing competition (INDIGNOR PLAYHOUSE Short Story Annual Competition) is officially open with expected publication in the fall of 2024. Up to 25 submissions will be accepted for inclusion in the annual anthology.
2nd: $250 | 3rd: $150
Deadline: March 31, 2024
Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult
Pivotal Essay Contest
Pivotal is an essay contest for high school students around the world run in partnership with Oxford University's Global Priorities Institute on the world’s most pressing problems. Students will write a 2000-word essay on one of three prompts relating to future generations, AI policy, and ethics.
Deadline: October 10, 2023 (Expired)
Native Voices Award
Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc
Indigenous storytellers (Native American, First Nation Australian, Indian, Polynesian, etc.) may submit original, unpublished work in English; short stories, essays, onstage scripts, poetry, or visual art.
2nd: $250 | 3rd: $100 | 6 Finalists: $25 gift card
Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Script Writing, Short Story
Letter Review Prize for Manuscripts
The Letter Review Prize for Manuscripts (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Three Winners are awarded and have extracts published. 20 entries are Longlisted. Winners receive letter of recommendation for publishers.
Deadline: August 31, 2023 (Expired)
Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Novel, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult
Beginnings have the power to spark passion or curiosity. They might immediately connect a specific place and time with an emotional tone. The best openings offer a feeling, atmosphere, action, or image that is gripping, and hints at more to come. For Sunspot Lit’s Inception contest, send your best opening. There are no restrictions on theme, category, or the length of the piece or collection from which the excerpt comes. Word limit is 250 for prose, 25 words for poetry.
Publication in digital and print editions
Deadline: July 31, 2023 (Expired)
Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Romance, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult
AIIRA Writing Contest
AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture
AIIRA is seeking essays speculating on how AI will change careers within the next decade, as well as fiction stories depicting a day in the life of a job transformed by AI technology. Submissions should address how AI will help future professionals perform their jobs more efficiently as well as what job duties will become redundant due to AI.
2nd: $400 (x2) | 3rd: $250
Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Science Writing, Short Story
Public Roads Student Writing Competition
Federal Highway Administration/Public Roads Magazine
Public Roads is proud to announce its first Student Writing Competition, designed to encourage high school and college students interested in or actively pursuing STEM majors to demonstrate their knowledge by writing an article that relates to the transportation industry.
Published in Winter 2023 Issue of Public Roads Magazine
Deadline: July 21, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Non-fiction, Science Writing
Universe of Threats Essay Contest
CAPTRS has launched a pathogen threat scenario writing contest, which will be part of their work to build a catalog of pathogen threat scenarios that will be used to hone pandemic preparedness strategies and train future decision-makers. Submissions may not exceed 2,500 words, and will be judged on creativity, plausibility of the pathogen threat, complexity of cascading societal factors, difficulty posed for current pandemic response capabilities and quality of writing.
2nd: $5,000 (up to 2 winners) | 3rd: $1,000 (up to 5 winners)
Essay, Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story
Creative Nonfiction Competition
Write the World
The teenage years are an in-between time, the stage linking our childhood to adulthood. It’s a time of internal transitions, as we find out more about who we are and who we want to be in the world. This month, use the tools of creative nonfiction to write about your own experience of this passage into adulthood.
Best Entry: $100
Runner up: $50 | Best Peer Review: $50
Deadline: July 18, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction
The Heartland Review Open Calls
The Heartland Review Press
Submit one piece of fiction or creative nonfiction of topic or category to include flash in a Word document through Submittable (link on website). No pdfs. Include a short cover letter and bio. Simultaneous submissions accepted, but writers must withdraw if published elsewhere. We read the first 50 pieces of fiction and 50 of creative nonfiction submitted each month during the open call.
Deadline: November 15, 2023
Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult
Sunspot Lit seeks one short story, CNF, artwork, poem, graphic novel, script, or excerpt that outshines the rest. Literary and genre works accepted. Feedback available for additional fee. See guidelines for details. Enter through Sunspot’s Submittable or through Duotrope.
Deadline: May 31, 2023 (Expired)
Quill and Keyboard Teen International Writing Competition
Quills and Keyboard
We are made of students hosting a contest for teen & YA authors. There are 15 categories, from journalism to a section for novelists’ favorite chapters. Qualified judges will send feedback on each piece. We partnered with many writing organizations such as Teen Author Boot Camp and Newpages and recognized by non-profits such as Polyphony Lit.
Publication in Under the Madness and Skipping Stones
Deadline: May 20, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novella, Poetry, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult
2024 Book Prize
Writers are invited to submit novels, short story collections and creative nonfiction manuscripts. The Editors' Prize winner receives a publication contract with Unleash Press and $1000 prize, along with 10 printed copies of the final book. We may also offer publication contracts to additional outstanding manuscripts.
Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Novel, Short Story, Non-fiction
Weekly Writing Competition
the archipelago is looking for great works of fiction, poetry, and personal essay. Eligibility: One piece per entry. One entry per person for each week (you can submit your writing for each round of competition repeating every week). The writing must be previously unpublished (including online). All entries must be in English. 700 - 1000 maximum word count for stories. 150 maximum lines for poetry. Submission Dates: April 10 - July 10
Deadline: June 10, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story
High School Academic Research Competition
Columbia Undergraduate science journal
The SARC is an exciting opportunity for students, aged 13-18 years old, who are looking for ways to exercise their research skills and have their works published in preparation for college. In SARC 2023, you will conduct research and write a 2-page essay on ANY topic of your choice -whether it be the sciences, a social issue in your community, or anything! The competition takes place across May through June 2023 and is 100% virtual, removing geographical barriers!
Deadline: May 27, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Science Writing
Mr. Rosewood Short Story Contest
After the success of Mr. Rosewood’s antics last year, and Mrs. Rosewood’s a year before the last; here’s Mr. and Mrs. Rosewood waiting for you to write about any of their days into a story. We are excited to announce our latest short-story writing contest. This time, we challenge you to write a captivating story about a day in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Rosewood.
Publication in anthology
Essay, Fiction, Short Story
Anthology Travel Writing Competition 2023
The Anthology Travel Writing Competition is open to original and previously unpublished travel articles in the English language by writers of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. We are looking for an engaging article that will capture the reader’s attention, conveying a strong sense of the destination and the local culture. Max 1000 words.
Essay, Non-fiction, Travel
2023 John Estey Student Writing Competition
American Writers Museum
"Give me a song of hope and a world where I can sing it.” – Pauli Murray, Dark Testament Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was difficult to define. They were a poet, a lawyer, a priest, a freight hopper, Eleanor Roosevelt’s friend, arrested for refusing to comply with bus segregation laws, a closeted member of the LBGTQ+ community, a professor, and so much more. Their work has influenced Supreme Court decisions, the Civil Rights movement, and countless individual people. This prompt is a quote from Murray’s collection of poems titled Dark Testament. It can be used as a first line, a last line, a jumping-off point, an inspiration for your students’ work. They can use the entire quote or portions of it to write a fiction or nonfiction story, poem, song, scene, short monologue or other form of writing. Submissions should be 1,000 words or less regardless of format.
3x Elementary Grade winners: $500 | 3x Middle School winners: $1,000 | 3x High School winners: $2,000
Deadline: June 05, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Script Writing
Abstraction & Reasoning in AI
The ARC Essay Challenge is a competition that desires the evolution of human-level abstraction and reasoning in AI agents. We are looking for interdisciplinary ideas in your essays that draw inspiration from fields such as biology, mathematics, philosophy, neuroscience, or any other to contribute to understanding and improving the adaptability of AI in new and unknown situations.
2nd: $1000 | 3rd: $500 | Publication
Deadline: May 07, 2023 (Expired)
The Scribes Prize
The Scribes Prize is looking for fiction & creative nonfiction stories of 90-110 words. Prizes include publication, award seals, and cash: $250 for gold, $125 for silver, $60 for bronze & 15 honorable mentions for $20 each. Simultaneous submissions & reprints welcome. Max 3 submissions per author. All entries will receive feedback from 2 editors.
2nd: $125 | 3rd: $60 | Publication | Editor's deedback
Deadline: September 01, 2023 (Expired)
Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
Emerging Writer's Contest
In the spirit of the journal 's founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. Authors are considered "emerging" if they haven 't published or self-published a book.
Publication in Ploughshares
Deadline: May 15, 2023 (Expired)
Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story
Narratively's 2023 Profile Prize
Narratively is looking for profile pieces that tell the story of ordinary people or communities doing extraordinary things. The grand prize winner will receive $3,000, and the two finalists will receive $1,000 each. Guest judges are renowned journalists Gay Talese, Lisa Lucas and Rebecca Traister.
$1000 for two other finalists
Deadline: April 14, 2023 (Expired)
Bacopa Literary Review
Bacopa Literary Review is an annual international print journal published by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. Our Bacopa Literary Review Editors’ blog shows the quality of writing we seek by highlighting work we respect from previous Bacopa issues as well as other sources.
£200 in 6 categories
$100 Honorable mention in 6 categories
Deadline: April 16, 2023 (Expired)
Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Essay, Flash Fiction, Humor
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First International Economics Olympiad for High School Students Starts in Moscow
This event was initiated by the higher school of economics (hse) and is supported by the sberbank charity fund ‘contribution to the future’ and the new economic school. a total of 63 contestants from 13 countries are competing in the olympiad. all of them have passed a strict selection process and are national competition winners..
‘This is a landmark event for the global academic community, since Russia is not only the organizer, but also the initiator of the Olympiad’, said Anton Kotyakov, Deputy Minister of Finance of Russia, at the opening ceremony. He noted: ‘This intellectual competition demonstrates the importance of this sphere not only for adults, but also for younger researchers’.
‘This Olympiad is a step towards mutual understanding and recognition of the fact that knowledge, skills, and goodwill will eventually lead us to success’, emphasized Bella Zlatkis, Deputy Chairperson of the Executive Board of Sberbank, in her welcome address.
Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development of Russia, spoke to the participants via a video address.
The Olympiad will last a week and consists of three stages, each with its own topic: economics, financial literacy, and a business case. During the first two stages, the contestants will be scored individually, while at the third stage, they will work in teams. Based on the results of all three stages, the winners will be announced for individuals and teams. In addition, prizes will be awarded for outstanding results or solutions at specific stages of the competition.
HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov said that ‘the state is trying to improve financial literacy in all demographics: the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance, and the educational system are all involved in these efforts. Economics, as well as law, are not mandatory school subjects in Russia at the moment. This should change. Those who do not study economics and law in their school studies are susceptible to for economic and civil failure’.
International high school Olympiads have a long tradition. However, before today, they were only organized in natural science and mathematics, since it’s easier for school students to compare their knowledge in these particular areas. ‘The fact that we are, at long last, holding an Olympiad in economics proves that this is a natural and globally-oriented area, since there is no separate Chinese, or Russian, or American economic theory’, Yaroslav Kuzminov said, adding: ‘To have a view of the world as something united, it’s essential to recognize that social sciences led by economics are objective and international; knowledge in economics and such tools go beyond the immediate interests of states and companies’.
Ruben Enikopolov, NES Rector, agreed with him: ‘The three words in the Olympiad’s name are important: international, since, like with the multiplication table, there is no national economic science, it is international; Olympiad, because participation is more important than victory; and economics, as this area, for many years, didn’t receive much attention, despite its crucial role in society’.
Eric Maskin, Nobel laureate in Economics, Adams University Professor at Harvard University and the Chairman of the HSE International Advisory Committee, is the head of the Board of Trustees of the Olympiad. ‘I don’t agree with Karl Marx on everything but I agree with him on the importance of economics. Economics in my view and his view is the foundation of civilization. If things go wrong with the economy, everything else goes wrong. Ten years after the great financial crisis we are still not fully recovered, in particular, our politics hasn’t completely recovered – political problems in Europe, US, China all have their roots in the economic events that took place ten years ago. It is reassuring to me that there are young people coming into the picture who are seriously interested in economics. We are going to rely on you to solve the economic problems that are the foundation of our political problems’. On the first day of the Olympiad Professor Maskin delivered a lecture on mechanism design, which is a new field of economics aimed at developing a set of tools that can be used to make optimal decisions that involve several players. These mechanisms might be employed to solve such problems like climate change or financial crises.
Humberto Llavador (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain), Head Judge, Member of Executive Board
At our university we have an award for the best research work that high school students do – in Spain all high school students need to do a research project in their last year of school. Talking about research papers in economics, students seem to be primarily interested in two main topics – inequality and climate change or the environment more broadly. The last surveys show that inequality and environmental issues have become more relevant in many countries than the traditional issues of unemployment, financial crisis, or terrorism and safety. So for high school students these issues are also the most pressing.
At this competition, economics part of the Olympiad would probably present the most difficulty for the contestants because it deals with reasoning and intuition. Economic intuition is something that requires some time and talent to acquire. The first task on this Olympiad will be evaluated automatically – by a programme. The second and third require evaluating the capacity to reason in economic terms and for the case study – to also think in the business perspective. So there is no single one correct answer. Maybe there are no the best solutions, but there are some that are better than others. So we will rank the solutions because we do not need to know what is the best, we only need to know what is better.
The most challenging thing about this Olympiad is the scope of topics the syllabus covers. The organizers wanted to focus on economic thinking and intuition. The idea of economic thinking and reasoning is common regardless of what the particular national syllabus in economics there is. It’s not going to be about specific formulas but more about an economic mindset.
I think economics should be a mandatory subject at schools. However, we have to carefully define the contents. Everybody should be economically literate, which means everybody should be able to avoid being cheated when they sign a loan or sign a credit card contract, or when they ask for a mortgage. People should know the economic principle behind it. Everybody should understand the main economic concepts such as inflation and unemployment and how these are measured. If people are economically literally, they cannot be manipulated.
United States District Court
Middle district of florida, timothy j. corrigan, chief united states district judge • elizabeth warren, clerk of court, search form, you are here, top 10 finalists announced for the 2023 high school essay contest - jacksonville.
ANNOUNCE THE TOP 10 FINALISTS IN THE 2023 HIGH SCHOOL ESSAY CONTEST (In alphabetical order)
Winners will be announced at the recognition ceremony on December 6, 2023, at the Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse .
Siddharth Bandaru Stanton College Preparatory School
Aria Brown Samuel W. Wolfson School for Advanced Studies
Cecilia Connor Ponte Vedra High School
Vineet Khanolkar Stanton College Preparatory School
Kinley Milligan Trinity Christian Academy
Spurthi Nrusimhadevara Stanton College Preparatory School
Sachin Saravanan Stanton College Preparatory School
Kaedence Sherwood Trinity Christian Academy
Jayden Sills Fernandina Beach High School
Nylah Smith Trinity Christian Academy
—Links to Essay Contest Information—
Contest Home Page
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Advancing social justice, promoting decent work
Ilo is a specialized agency of the united nations, schoolchildren discuss future of work: an essay contest in baku.
On 14 June 2019, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Azerbaijan held in its premises an awarding ceremony of the essay contest on the topics of the ILO Centenary and the Future of Work. Schoolchildren from Baku took part in the contest.
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