Archive for Contests

Student Contest Roundup October 31, 2014




The Geography Olympiad is a fairly new contest – only in its 3rd year – and it has different levels for all age groups. This is particularly exciting for high school students who may be missing the Geo Bee.  This year there will be a number of changes including the debut of their National Qualifying Quiz Tournaments, which will be held around the country.  This will give students an alternative way of qualifying for the National Qualifying Exams.  Good luck throughout the 2014-15 season!



Future City is a contest for teams of middle school students where they learn what it takes to build a city.  The Future City Competition is a national project-based learning experience where middle schooler, sixth through eighth grade imagine, design and build cities of the future.  Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity software.  They get to actually build scale models and present their ideas before judges at regional competitions.  Regional winners then advance to the finals in Washington D.C.


Christopher Columbus Awards

This is another cool contest for middle school students where they get to investigate a problem in their community and apply scientific principles to find a solution.  They work in teams of three or four to address widespread issues within their community.  Their goal is to provide a feasible solution to the problem.  They need to provide credible scientific data to back up their solution.  Then provide a well-written essay with visuals to present to the judges.  They win scholarships and a trip to Disney World and get a behind-the-scenes look at how it works.



Philosophy Slam is a contest for all school students – no matter where they live in the world. Younger students can draw while older ones use words to express their opinion on the current year’s topics.  The contest is designed to make philosophy fun for kids of all ages and abilities and to promote a philosophical discussion between kids and adults.  Since everyone has life experiences, even kids, Kids Philosophy Slam asks kids to write, create poetry or create artwork regarding a philosophical question posed each year.

American Legion Oratorical Contest

If students enjoy public speaking and the constitution – then here’s a contest for them. Prepare a speech according to the rules, wow the judges and you can earn a lot of scholarship money.  The Oratorical contest presents students with an academic speaking challenge that teaches them important leadership qualities.  It also gives them an insight into our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly and give them an understanding of their rights and privileges as an American.  This contest is open to high school students twenty years and younger currently enrolled in a high school program.


Student Contest Roundup October 24, 2014


Once again I have taken a while to do this – here are two more weeks of awesome contests!

Science Olympiad

Science Olympiad Science Olympiad is my favorite competition not only because the team I coach actually made it to Nationals a few years ago, but also because of the huge benefits I see when students participate. All states offer contests for middle and high school teams, but some also do for Elementary. Students compete as a team in 23 events (typically a student will do 2-5 events). Some events are building, some study, some have lab work components – and some are difficult to categorize. They are fun. They are challenging. And they prepare students to become the leaders of future in the science fields.

Vocabulary Bowl

Vocabulary Bowl Champions Students in K – 12 all over the United States compete in the Vocabulary Bowl as part of their school team to see who can master the most vocabulary words in a year. Monthly and annual awards are made – and there are prizes for top individual participants as well. It’s free to compete – so sign your school up!

Medusa Mythology

Medusa Mythology Exam This Mythology Contest is a written multiple-choice test for 6th-12th graders. Each year there is a specific focus for the exam. There are awards for different levels of achievement and the top achievers in high school go on to compete for scholarship money by writing an additional essay.

ACSL Programming Contest

This programming contest is a series of 5 tests over the year that operates on 4 different levels depending on the ability of the students taking it. Students can start in middle school and then move to harder levels as they learn more coding. Past exams are available to help students prepare. Great for computer clubs and classes.

Math Video Challenge

This is last year’s winning entry. Middle Schoolers compete to create videos to explain math concepts.


NaNoWriMo NaNoWriMo the November Writing Challenge has a special Youth Category where students set their own goals as to how many words they think they can write in a month. All students who complete their goals are winners and get certificates and can print off some copies of their masterpieces free of charge.

Vocabulary Video Contest

The NY Times is sponsoring a Vocabulary Video Contest where students get to make videos explaining words. The one above was last year’s winner.

School Band & Orchestra Essay Contest

Students in grades 4 – 12 can write an essay on the current year’s topic and stand to win music products and prizes for themselves and their school. Essays have to be less than 250 words, so this isn’t a lot to write. 5 winners are selected from 4th-8th grader entries and 5 from 9th-12th.



Grow Your Own Business Challenge

Grow your own business challenge

Students between the ages of 7 and 14 can submit their business ideas for a chance to win money – and trip to Omaha to meet the contest sponsor Warren Buffett.

Students can work alone or in teams and there will be 5 individual and 3 group finalists selected.

President’s Environmental Youth Award

Students in K – 12 work together in groups to show environmental stewardship. All qualifying projects receive Regional Awards and the top projects each year also receive National awards.

This is a good contest to make students more environmentally aware.

Student Contest Roundup October 10, 2014

Student Contests

I didn’t get around to putting the round up last week – so enjoy two weeks at once here!

Math Olympiad

 Math Olympiad LogoMath Olympiad is for 4th-8th graders. There are 2 divisions so students are competing against students close to their own age. Over a 5 month period students take 5 30 minute tests. Each test just has 5 questions and they range from easy to hard. Most students should be able to get at least one correct. At the end of the year there are trophies and patches for the top students.


Science Bowl

National Science Bowl LogoTeams of 4 compete head to head in live competition in the Science Bowl. The winners of each State proceed to Nationals.  There are separate competitions for middle and high school. Official homeschool groups can participate. Prizes for top teams at State and National level make it even more fun for students.

History Bee

History Bee

At the school level of the History Bee students compete against their fellow school mates either on a multiple choice paper test or in a typical bee format. The history covered is World History – so anything goes! The top 4 students from each school take an online test to see who advances to the Regional event. At the Regional event students use buzzers to answer questions and the top students move on to compete at the National level.



The North American Computional Linguistics Olympiad is a contest for highschoolers. The contest involves solving linguistic puzzles. This is great fun for students who love logic games. You do not need to know a foreign language or anything about linguistics.


Wevideo Contest: Sudan’s Secret Side Mini Documentary

Students of all ages can enter and try and win a GoPro. Sign up for access to the rules.

Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Verizon App ChallengeTeams of 5-7 middle or high school students must identify a need or problem in their that can be addressed by a mobile app. Homeschooled students and youth organizations are not eligible for this contest. Find more info here.



Teams of 3-4 6th through 9th graders in the same grade select a Mission Challenge which they research over a few months and then present suggested solutions to. More info here.

ShareAwesome Contest

Shareawesome Contest

Each week there is a different theme for teens to submit photos for – all related to Digital Citizenship. After the contest ends at the end of November then the finalists will produce a video to try an win a Surface Tablet. The contest is just for 13-17 year old.


Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a high school contest that starts at the school level and moves up to a National contest. Students learn by heart and deliver 2 poems of their choice.

This is a great contest to develop a love of poetry in students.


Wild for Wilderness Art Contest

Wild for Wilderness Art Contest

Grades 2-4 get to show they are “Wild for Wilderness” in this Art Contest.

If your children or students enter any of these and do well, come back here and let us know!

Student Contest Roundup September 26, 2014



Here are the contests for the week beginning 9/22/14. Remember to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google + to get notified of the #studentcontestoftheday.

Interstellar’s Math Madness

This contest has a middle school and high school division. Teams compete online against each other to solve math problems.

First Freedom Video and Essay Contest

High school students can either create a video, or write an essay on a specific topic related to the Freedom of Religion.


Exploravision is  contest for K-12 which is pretty unusual for a contest. There are various age brackets so students compete against their own age. This contest allows students to research what technology is used today and then dream of what the future may look like.

PicoCTF Hacking Contest

This Hacking Contest is for middle and high schoolers – and it teaches about computer security, but doesn’t encourage students to become hackers! They do get to hack into files etc so it is super fun!

Students work in teams to solve challenges centered around a storyline where participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge. There are various levels so that no programming ability is necessary to compete the lower level challenges.

Helicopter Challenge

Students have fun designing the helicopter of the future. This contest is for 9-16 year olds.

Student Contest Roundup September 19, 2014

Student Contests Graphic


Here are the contests for the week beginning 9/15/14. Remember to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google + to get notified of the #studentcontestoftheday.

Geography Bee

Geography BeeThe National Geography Bee has been inspiring 4th – 8th graders to expand their knowledge of the world around them for many years. Students compete to be the best in their school (or homeschool group) and then take a written test to make the top 100 in their State and compete for the chance to go to the National competition

Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee is for 3th through 8th grade and also starts at the school level. There are still the odd occasion one has to write without the benefit of a spell checker, so I guess it is still worthwhile to know how to spell. At the first levels the words are reasonably easy but they get more and more obscure the close you get to National level. Watch Akeelah and the Bee if you have never experienced a Spelling Bee.

Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay

Voice of Democracy

High School students write an essay and then record it on the current year’s theme. This contest is sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and there are prizes at all levels. A great contest to encourage student to think patriotically about their country.

First Lego League

FLLFirst Lego League is a team event for 9 – 14 year olds. The contest consists of a Project Challenge and a Robot Challenge. In the Project Challenge students have a topic to research and they have to present their research in a creative way to the judges. For the Robot Challenge they are judged on the design of their robots and how well the robot performs a number of tasks.

Global Virtual Classroom Web Design Contest

This contest is quite different from most as classrooms work as teams, together with teams from 2 other classrooms (or other youth groups) to build the best website that meets certain criteria. And the winners win prizes they can donate to those who need them. A neat way to teach global citizenship

Introducing our “Student Contest of the Day”

student contest of the week


I have long been a believer in the huge value contests bring to education. I have watched how much my own children and my students have gained as they have participated in a wide variety of different ones. Over the years I have discovered many of them and my husband suggested I start sharing these with our readers. In time I hoped to compile these into a book so this is also a way to help that book become a reality.

Here’s how it will work: Every week day I will post the information about one contest on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. All of them will have the hashtag #studentcontestoftheday so that they will be easily searchable. At the end of each week, I will do a short summary of the 5 contests from that post week.

That gives you 4 different ways to find them. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ – or sign up to get notifications when we publish a new blog post right here:

Don't miss any posts!

So here are the contests for the week beginning 9/8/14:

American Math Contest


American Math Contest - AMC

AMC 8 is for students up to 8th grade and AMC 10 and 12 are for high schoolers. Both contests are offered once a year and contain multiple choice math questions that test and in depth understanding of math contests. A great way to see if students really “get” it when it comes to math.


H & R Block Budget Challenge


HR Block Challenge

In this contest, high schoolers learn real life skills by making decisions on how to use a virtual salary to pay their bills, save and invest. And the students who end up at the top of the leaderboard will be rewarded for their success with nice scholarships!

Patriots Pen Essay Contest

Patriots Pen VFW

Middle school students send essays based on the current year’s topic to their local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. There are prizes from the local level all the way to national level.

Stock Market Game

Stock Market Game

Teams of 2-5 students from 4th-12th grade invest a virtual $100 000 over a few weeks and see how much they can make during the time. Real close-of-day prices are used to make the simulation realistic. This blog post goes into more detail about the contest.


International Student Art Contest


International Student Art Contest

Students from 3-18 from anywhere in the world compete for great prizes by creating art work related to some space theme.




Have your children tried any of these? Let us know in the comments.



Scavenger Hunts: a great way to explore a city

While I was planning a recent trip to Washington D.C. with my 14 year old daughter, I discovered Stray Boots. This company has created Scavenger Hunts in many major cities of the USA which one plays using a cell phone (Android or iOS).

Strayboots App

Please note: this is not a sponsored post and Stray Boots has no idea I am writing this review. We had fun and I just want to share our experience.

Buy your tickets online (one per player) and then you download their app and use the code you bought to unlock the game. You can do all this before you leave your hotel. In fact, that is the better way to do it. We didn’t realize this and had to find the nearest Starbucks to get everything working. In fact, we had entirely missed the fact that we had to download the app and so phoned the number on the payment receipt. The phone was answered immediately and a nice lady explained exactly what we needed to do. Great customer support!

Once you have the app up and running, select the Scavenger Hunt you want and then it is a simple matter of following the clues.

Reading a clue for Strayboots scavenger hunt

Solving a clue in a gift store

We did the one that started at Ford’s Theater. There were 15 clues and it took us about 2 hours. There were 4 of us – my daughter and her friend, her friend’s mom and me.

Every time we solved a clue we got points and some interesting facts about the location which my daughter read out to us all. And then we got the next clue.

What happens if you can’t figure out the answer? Well, you get multiple attempts (yes, first hand knowledge of this!) and if you are really stuck you can ask for a hint. (We only needed that once.) You can also opt to skip a challenge (proud to say we didn’t do that).

What are the challenges like? Ours had us scouring museum shops, looking at signs outside stores, examining the sidewalk and reading information on windows of buildings.

Posing as spies

You have to take photos in various fun poses – we had to dress up like spies for one and with a statue for another. (These can be skipped).

We walked a lot – not sure how many miles, but we got exercise along with knowledge! Fortunately it isn’t timed, so you can stop for a drink along the way.

You do receive a score – which means you could play against a rival family or split your family in two and see who does the best. We lost points for wrong guesses and needing a hint at one point.

I am glad Strayboots has challenges in many different cities as I will definitely be a repeat customer.

Photo proof for Stray Boots

Proof we had found the statue

And – they allow you to create your own hunts too so I am planning on creating one for my home town. You can even make them for things like birthday parties and just share with friends.

You can find the Strayboots apps on the iTunes and Google Play stores.

A little bit of googling revealed 2 more similar apps – Klikaklu (you have to take photos that prove you are in the right place,) Munzee and Huntzz (most of these are in Europe). Klikaklu could be used in a classroom setting but the others could all be part of field trips.

If you have done any Stray Boots hunt or anything similar, please share your experiences in the comments.

The Stock Market Game for Kids

Stock Market Game for Kids


The online Stock Market Game for students is a great way to introduce young people to some economic principles in a fun way.

This game is played in teams that can be comprised of students in a class, from a homeschool group or even an after-school group like 4-H. And it can be played in countries all over the world.

As I have only accessed it as a Tennessean in the USA, the exact details I share below may be a little different in your area, but I know that the general format is the same globally.

There are 2 games played every year – fall and spring. Our fall game starts in late August. There is a small fee per team ($10 for us). Grades 4 and up are eligible to participate.

Students are given a virtual amount of $100 000 to invest over about 3 months. They buy stocks they believe will make them the most money and then carefully watch the prices of the stocks in their portfolio to see if there is perhaps reason to sell.

Account Holdings Screen Stock Market Game

The game mirrors reality as closely as possible with the stock prices being the real end-of-day ones on the American exchanges. Students can only trade during regular trading hours and they have to pay brokers’ fees on each transaction.

Account Summary Screen Stock Market Game

Every week a leader board is published with the total value of teams’ portfolios which allows students to see how they stack up to other teams in their area.

What will students learn from the Stock Market Game?

They should like basic terms like bear and bull, index, broker, portfolio, stock, dividend. Older students can also be introduced to P/E ratio, short selling etc. They should learn about investments and risk. They should learn what factors can affect the price of shares. (Nothing like holding stock in a travel related industry when a terrorist attack occurs to teach students that!) And as all this learning is done within the context of a game, they will learn effortlessly.

Students who are enrolled in the Stock Market Game can also enter the Investwrite Essay contest. There are different prompts based on age and these get students to really think about the world of investment – particularly as it relates to the Stock Market. There are prizes for students and teachers at the National level (one of my students came 2nd – she got a laptop and I got $250!) and recognition and trophies at lower levels (one of my students last year was first in our State).

I have incorporated the Stock Market Game into a middle school economics class I teach, and I have also used it for my own children when they have done Economics for a high school credit. I have watched as the students have learned in a hands-on way what this is all about. And now I am watching as my own children who have graduated school are now starting to play the ‘real’ game. They are not jumping into it, but staying with industries they know and with companies they have researched. They aren’t “putting all their eggs in one basket” but buying mutual funds or a number of different stocks. And they are in it for the long haul – if nothing else the stock market game taught them short term investing is very risky!

If you teach groups of students, I strongly encourage you to take a look at how you could incorporate the Stock Market Game into your lessons. You can find many resources to teach kids about the stock market and the game itself has a large number of downloadable lessons available for teachers.

If you have students or children who have played it, what did they think of it? What did they learn? Let us know in the comments.


Mock Trial: How it Changed my High School Career

Mock Trial State Championship 2013

KACHEA team with judge in a courtroom at the State Championship 2013

This is a guest post by my very talented niece, Melissa Temple. All photographs were provided by her.

Four years ago, I would have read “mock trial” and had little concept of what the words meant. Now, I can confidently say that my participation in mock trial was the single largest influence on my high school career, and ultimately my college decision. I anticipate that mock trial will have further influence on my life as I continue to participate at the collegiate level at Furman University, my first choice college.

If you’re like me before I started, you’re probably still wondering what exactly mock trial entails. I will attempt to give a brief explanation, but to be honest, I did not understand the entire program until I personally participated in a competition. I encourage you to attend a local competition or watch a round online.

Mock trial is a competitive extracurricular program (from primary school through grad school!) that teaches students fundamental law concepts and engages them in trial advocacy. A mock trial team consists of 6-12 students; with 3 attorney roles and 3 witness roles for each side. Teams are generally coached by a teacher sponsor and an attorney coach.

KACHEA team at National Mock Trial Contest 2013

KACHEA team at National Mock Trial Contest 2013

Each fall, a case packet is released that students study and prepare until competition season begins in February and March. The case packet includes a fabricated case, either criminal or civil, an indictment, affidavits for the defense and prosecution witnesses, case law, and other necessary case material. Teams prepare the case for both prosecution and defense, and will represent one side at a time during competition.  Before competition time, attorneys become familiar with applicable law (using parts of the Federal Rules of Evidence) and witnesses embrace their unique characters.

Example from a PA State final of the closing arguments in a trial

I hope you didn’t get lost in any legal jargon. Mock trial takes dedication, and a commitment to work, in practice and outside of practice.  I was spending approximately 10 hours per week on my preparations during the peak of the season and about 5-7 hours per week the rest of the season, although it would vary depending on the roles I was assigned.

While mock trial may sound somewhat laborious, this educational program also gave me an unmatched outlet to meet like-minded high school students, make friends, and develop my personal skills.

If your student is interested at all in studying law, I would highly recommend mock trial. It will not only afford them an opportunity to become familiar with actual federal law and trial advocacy, it will also allow them to engage with lawyers, judges, and others from the profession. Even those who are not interested in pursuing law can benefit from mock trial by learning advocacy. My team was combined of a majority of students who merely enjoyed acting, rather than the law aspect of the program. For them, mock trial gave them another outlet to practice acting with different accents, and in an unusual environment. For me, my passion for studying law was strengthened, I developed my rhetoric, and I refined my poise and logic — all in the midst of a healthy competitive environment.

Melissa Temple

Melissa holding trophy when her team won the State Mock Trial contest in 2013

As an avid “mocker”, I personally attest to the plethora of benefits that accompany mock trial. Besides being an excellent resume builder with opportunity for leadership roles, mock trial is a nationally recognized program and highly respected by many colleges. There are many awards, including scholarships, which are associated with mock trial. At each level, awards are given to attorneys, witnesses, and teams. Mock trial is continuing to gain momentum as a popular activity in public, private, and home school arenas.

Award for 7th place at National Mock Trial in May 2013

Award for 7th place at National Mock Trial in May 2013

To find out more about mock trial in your area, check out and contact your state coordinator. Teams generally begin practicing in August or September, with a case packet release in October or November.

Melissa Temple is an incoming freshman to Furman University. She received a scholarship to Furman for mock trial, and will have a double major of political science and communications. She participated in mock trial through a home school team for three years, winning numerous accolades including Best District Attorney and 2nd Best Prosecution Attorney in TN. Her team advanced to the National Mock Trial Competition in 2013, just 5 years after beginning, and finished 7th out of 48 teams. Contact Melissa for more info on the subject at

You can find Melissa on LinkedIn.




Science Fair Projects: Tips to do your best

Today we have a guest blogger, Madeline Binder, who has years of experience with science fairs. If your children have taken part in one, please share their experiences in the comments below.

There is a lot of pressure on today’s kids to be the best, whether it is the best in sports, the best in academics or the best in some other skill. While this demand for being the best can be overwhelming to many students and deplete their enjoyment of their school years, science fair projects can be used to give kids the chance to develop their science skills and their desire to be the best scientist that they can be in a very fun way. To help students do well in a science fair a few simple concepts need to be integrated into their project.


One of the most important characteristics that science fair judges look for in winning science fair projects is innovation. Innovation is important in science fair projects because it is the driving force behind the science industry. Innovation in science fair projects can be demonstrated through unique takes on common science fair project topics, through unusual project topics and through creative experiment designs. Think out of the box!


Another important characteristic that science fair judges want is a topical project. To be topical a science fair project has to explore something that is relevant to today’s issues. Projects that explore out-dated or overworked science topics that have little impact on modern life are not going to be scored as well as projects that explore topics and science concepts that have a large impact on modern life. Example: global warming, global water supply, energy conservation.


The value of the science fair project will also impact the score that a project receives from science fair judges. Value can be based on a number of factors including relevance to modern problems, the discoveries that were made by the student and the implications that are drawn from the project. To get the best score possible students need to make sure that their project contributes something to some field within the science community.


While all of the above characteristics will improve a student’s chances creating a winning project, your project must include all the 6-steps of the scientific method. A complete science fair project will have a well defined hypothesis, an experiment design that tests specifically for the variables identified in the hypothesis, results will need to be collected and analyzed and conclusions will need to be drawn. Furthermore, the project will need a well designed display board that clearly details the progression and findings of your experiment.

The Step-by-Step Infographic Cheat Sheet outlines every step you will need to do a winning project.


Winning at the science fair may not provide students with an automatic get into college free pass, however, it provides them with a prize that is far more valuable. Just doing a science fair project will teach you a process that you will be able to incorporate throughout your life: encouragement to continue the development of your science skills, spurs on your thirst for knowledge, ignites your competitive nature and it provides you with the confidence required to reach for their dreams.

Madeline Binder, often referred to as the SciFairLady, has been helping kids complete a successful science fair project since 2004.

Main Photo by C.C. from Flickr courtesy of terren in Virginia 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...