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STEM Writing Contest


How do daddy longlegs grow such strange legs? Can genetically engineered bacteria help us detect buried land mines? Why does snow sometimes turn red? Can Saturn’s rings help to reveal what’s happening in the planet’s core?

If you click on any of these articles, you’ll see that they are written for a general reader. Special technical or scientific knowledge is not required, and each is designed to get our attention and keep it — by giving us “news we can use” in our own lives, or by exploring something fascinating in a way that makes it easy to understand and shows us why it matters.

For this contest, The New York Times Learning Network invites you to bring that same spirit of inquiry and discovery to finding a STEM-related question, concept or issue you’re interested in, and, in 500 words or fewer, explaining it to a general audience in a way that not only helps us understand, but also engages us and makes us see why it’s important.

Your essay shall be original for this contest. Please don’t submit anything you have already published at the time of submission, whether in a school newspaper, for another contest or anywhere else.

The best of this kind of writing includes three elements:

  • It begins with an engaging hook to get readers’ attention and make us care about the subject.

  • It quotes experts and/or includes research on the topic to give context and credibility.

  • It explains why the topic matters. Why do you care? Why should we care? Whom or what does it affect, why and how? How is it relevant to broader questions in the field, to the world today and to our own lives?

The winners will be announced about two months after the contest has closed. The winners’ work will be published on The New York Times Learning Network.

Click HERE to learn more details about this contest.


The registration is free.

You must be a student ages 11 to 19 in middle school or high school anywhere in the world to participate. For students in the United States, they consider middle school to begin in 6th grade. Students in lower grades cannot participate. For students outside the United States, students must be 11 years old to have their work submitted to this contest.

Students ages 13 to 19 years old in the United States and the United Kingdom, and students ages 16 to 19 years old anywhere else in the world, can submit their own entries. Younger students can have an adult submit on their behalf.

Open an account and finish your registration now.


The deadline for this contest is March 9, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. The winners will be announced about two months after the contest has closed.




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The New York Times (the Learning Network)


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