Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cool Contests for Cold Weather Kicks

"Loud are the thunder drums in the tents of the mountains.
Oh, long, long
Have we eaten chia seeds and dried deer's flesh of the summer killing.
We are tired of our huts and the smoky smell of our clothing.
We are sick with the desire for the sun
And the grass on the mountain."

I came across this Paiute Late Winter Song the other day -- on the very day, in fact, that Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter -- and it so perfectly expressed my own feelings as January moved glacier-like into February (yet still nowhere near spring), that I had to share it with you.

I know all of you can't really appreciate the seemingly endless misery of the cold, damp, dreary, slippery, sleety (Did I say "dreary?") mess we in the northeast call winter -- my daughter texts regularly from San Diego to remind me of that : ) -- but I'm sure every teacher can appreciate the late winter "stuck-in-the-hut-sick-with-desire-for-spring" feeling that permeates classrooms this time of year. What to do to snap our students -- and ourselves -- out of these winter doldrums? What to do until the sun once again warms the grass on the mountains -- and thaws out our frozen brains?

Well...how about a contest? Certainly nothing is more brain-thawing, more mood-warming, more mental-muscle-flexing -- for students and teachers -- than a healthy hot-blooded competition. (Witness the Superbowl!) And there are a number to choose from this time of year. Try one of these:

In an effort to foster the development of the next generation of scientists, Discovery Education and 3M have teamed up to encourage students in grades 5 - 8 to develop their science curiosity and share their passion through the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. To enter, students must submit a one- to two-minute video about a specific scientific concept. This year's approved topics focus on the science of safety and security. The contest deadline is May 27, 2010.

Science students with an interest in the environment might prefer the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, a sustainability challenge in which students in grades K - 12 work with an educator or mentor to identify and create solutions for environmental issues. It's an opportunity for kids to make a difference and win cool prizes! The deadline is March 15, 2010.

The brand new PBS Teachers Innovation Awards program is another contest that encourages video (or photographic) entries. This one is for teachers, however. Designed to honor innovative educators from all levels of preK - 12 education, the competition asks entrants to explain why they are innovative educators and to submit a video clip or photograph showing how they inspire their students. The deadline for this competition is March 12, 2010.

Are you a graduate student, an ed-tech expert, or a teacher/researcher? The National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) has announced its 2010 Tech in the Works Competition, which seeks proposals for collaborative research of innovative technologies that provide greater access for students with disabilities. Up to four awards of $20,000 will be made. Letters of intent are due March 23, 2010.

On a slightly more manageable scale, No Name-Calling Week’s Creative Expression Contest invites U.S. students in grades K - 12 to submit essays, poetry, music, or other artwork that convey their experiences and feelings about name-calling, and their ideas for putting a stop to verbal bullying. No Name-Calling Week is a project of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, in collaboration with more than 50 national education and youth service organizations. The deadline is February 26, 2010.

Hungry for more? The 2010 Heinz Ketchup Creativity™ Contest invites U.S. students in grades K - 12 to show their creativity by designing Heinz Ketchup packets. And this year -- for the first time in Ketchup Creativity history -- artwork of one of the top 12 winners will appear on Heinz® Ketchup bottles in addition to the single-serve packets. To top it off : ), that student also will receive $5,700. Better hurry, though! Heinz might be the slow ketchup, but the contest ends quickly -- on February 26, 2010.

Speaking of food...The Organic. It's Worth It In Schools contest, sponsored by the Organic Trade Association, invites teachers, parents, students, and community members to vote for their favorite school to win an organic garden or a fully stocked organic vending machine. Individuals “vote” by signing up for an electronic newsletter featuring organic tips, recipes, and more. Be prepared to work for this one, though. A school must receive at least 1,000 votes (newsletter sign-ups) to win. The deadline is May 1, 2010.

Do you know of any additional contests that can help students and teachers kick the winter blahs? Click Post A Comment to share your suggestions. And have a fabulous February : )

1 comment:

  1. Another terrific contest announcement arrived since I completed this post: Doodle 4 Google (http://www.google.com/doodle4google/)invites K-12 students in U.S. schools to create their own Google doodle inspired by the theme, "If I Could Do Anything, I Would . . . "