|Academic contests motivate kids|
What can make academics fun for students? Contests can.|
It sure isn't fun when the teacher announces "Test on Friday." But what happens if the teacher
announces that the class could win a trip to Space Camp? Now we're talking enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, most students don't know what they're missing. A kid searching for academic
contests must cross an information gap that could swallow the Library of Congress.
One year a contest that offers a $58,000 college scholarship got exactly one entry. Yes, that
student did win the prize.|
Why aren't contests better known? Most are announced only
by a poster at school. That rules out the growing number of
homeschoolers right off the bat. And maybe the principal or
counselor never posted the announcement. Or the first
interested kid stuffed the poster in his back pack. Or the poster
went unnoticed amidst the bulletin board clutter.
So Scott Pendleton, an award-winning journalist, wrote
The Ultimate Guide to Student Contests, Grades 7-12 (Walker
and Company, 374 pages). His research found so many
contests for younger kids that he also wrote The Ultimate Guide to Student Contests, Grades K-6|
(Walker and Company, 184 pages).
The books list hundreds of contests on art, essays, fiction, poetry, foreign languages,
mathematics, science, computers, film-making, photography, geography, history, and more.
They also gives details about academic talent searches, honor societies, academics-related
membership organizations, standardized tests, and recognition awards.
"Almost every contest organizer complains of low participation," Mr. Pendleton says. "Several just
gave up and quit offering some really exciting contests." One was a science contest that would have
let the winners meet with the Nobel Laureate of their choice.
Or what about the most famous contest in the country - the National Spelling Bee? Don't expect a
winner from Seattle or Austin. Those are the only U.S. cities that don't participate. "The problem isn't
lack of interest, but lack of awareness," Mr. Pendleton says.
For an author interview, E-mail
| The Ultimate Guide to Student Contests gives|
students the full menu from which to choose. The
books even includes samples of winning art and
writing. "If you see that and think 'Hey, I could do that,'
then you've gotten the message," the author tells
students. "Now show us!"