The Big List of Student Contests and Competitions

Contests for ELA, STEM, the arts, and more!

We love student contests and competitions because they can provide an authentic learning purpose. In other words, they can connect students’ interests to the real world. We’ve pulled together a list of amazing contests to engage every kind of student in your classroom. 

Best Student Contests for English Language Arts

Launch Pad

Students ages 6–14 can submit fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to Launch Pad.  They choose stories and poems that are creative and well-written.

Promising Young Writers Program

This award requires a teacher to nominate eighth grade students for a writing award. The student nominated must submit two writing samples: a themed piece and a student selected “best” writing sample. See the website for more details and the themed writing prompt.

2019 national poetry month poster contest for students

Students in grades 9–12 may enter artwork for the National Poetry Month 2019 Poster.

The Global Book Club

Three books a month, students can upload a project. Not a contest, but a great authentic learning experience.

The 90-SECOND NEWBERY Film Festival

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is an annual video contest. Young filmmakers create movies that tell the entire stories of Newbery-winning books in about 90 seconds.

Scope Writing Contests

Scope Magazine (published by Scholastic) features tons of contests to excite students about writing. 

The Next Generation of Great Artists and Writers

The Scholastic Writing Awards encourages student writers and artists in grades 7–12 to submit work in a variety of genres.

New Moon Girls

Girls Only! Ages 8+ may submit articles, poetry, recipes, opinions, plays, speeches, and art. 

Letters About Literature

Letters About Literature is an annual, national reading and writing program organized by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. To enter, students in grades 4–12 write a letter to the author (living or dead) of their favorite book, poem, or short story and describe how that book moved or changed them.

Spellebrity Video Contest

Create a video that spells out how you can kindle the love of reading, featuring three words that would be useful to know in a spelling bee.

Check out even more student writing contests here.

Best Student Contests for STEM

Solve for Tomorrow

Designed to boost interest and proficiency in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM), this nationwide contest challenges public school teachers and students in grades 6–12 to show how STEAM can be applied to help improve their local community.

Breakthrough Junior Challenge

Kids ages 13–18 can submit a big scientific idea in fundamental physics, life sciences or mathematics in video form.

AdCap Challenge

Your high school students can win up to $35,000 in scholarships and prizing for their smart ideas on topics like sustainability, food insecurity, the impact of technology and more.

Student Math Contest

This contest challenges students in grades 6–8 to practice critical thinking supported by accurate computation.

Plant Mash Up Contest

Encourage your middle school students to experiment with plantology by entering the Plant Mash-Up Contest! To enter, students combine two plants into a hybrid, draw it, and explain its properties.

Drive Smart Contest

Students ages 13–18 years old may enter an original digital short about the dangers of distracted driving for a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship and other prizes.

The International Compost Awareness Week Poster Contest

Students in third grade and up can create a poster for International Compost Awareness Week.

Students Rebuild

First, learn about the threats facing our ocean. Second, create a sea creature from paper and consider one thing you can do personally to help protect the ocean. Then send your art in for this contest. 

Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge

The Youth Design Challenge (YDC) is a free hands-on, project-based learning experience that provides classroom and informal educators with a new framework to introduce biomimicry and an interdisciplinary lens on science and environmental literacy. Working in teams with an adult coach, middle and high school students explore the wonders of natural world and apply what they learn to create innovations that support a healthier planet.

Carton 2 Garden

Students in grades PreK-12 enter this contest by creating an innovative garden  featuring creative and sustainable uses for re-purposed milk and juice cartons. Start your school year by collecting at least 100 empty cartons from your home, community, or cafeteria.

Google Science Fair

Students ages 13-18 can participate in this amazing science fair.

VANS Custom Culture

Selected high schools will be challenged to design 2 pairs of shoes around 2 themes. In addition to designing their shoes, selected schools will also be submitting an Impact Document reflecting how their school, its students and the community would be impacted by winning $75,000 for their art program

MathCounts MathVideo

Middle school students work in teams of 4 to create a video based on a MathCounts problem. The students must solve a math problem from the MathCounts playbook and show a real-world application of the math concept used in the problem. Videos can be no longer than 5 minutes. Students post their completed videos to the Math Video Challenge website.

Pepsi Recycle Rally Video

Students can produce a short video that makes a compelling case for why people should recycle their plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

FutureCity

Future City is a project-based learning program where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future.

Bebras Challenge

Bebras is an international initiative designed to promote Computer Science and computational thinking among school students at all ages. Participants are usually supervised by teachers who may integrate the Bebras challenge in their teaching activities.

Generation Nano

Middle and high school students are invited to create a written entry and either a comic or a 90-second video that illustrates a science-powered superhero in action. 

Creative Advocacy Competition: Marine Debris

Middle and high school students are challenged to design, implement, and assess a creative marine debris advocacy project in their school or community, with the goals of educating the public about the issue, inspiring people to change their behavior, and engaging them in an activity that reduces or prevents marine debris.

Ocean Awareness Student Contest

Students ages 11-18 from around the world may submit visual art, poetry, prose, film, and music that explore the Ocean Awareness Student Contest theme.

Young Innovators

The mission of the USF Young Innovator Competition is to promote innovation and creativity in young people by motivating them to solve problems and improve upon the things around them. 

SIBA Invention Competition

Enter any idea for a new way to demonstrate an educational concept, an idea for a new product, or an improvement for an existing product or procedure. 

Rubberband Contest

To design and create a working invention/artwork that incorporates at least one (1) rubber band.

picoCTF Cyber security competition

picoCTF is a computer security game for middle and high school students. The game consists of a series of challenges centered around a unique storyline where participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge. The challenges are all set up with the intent of being hacked, making it an excellent, legal way to get hands-on experience.

CodeMonkey’s Code Rush

CodeMonkey’s Code Rush is a nation-wide competition for teams of students in 3rd to 8th grade. Solve as many CodeMonkey challenges as you can and maybe your team will one of the 20 lucky teams who will win amazing prizes for their school or library! $50 entry fee

Young Scientist Challenge

Students, grades 5-8, are invited to create a 1-2 minute video describing a new, innovating solution that could solve an everyday problem. Ten finalists will be chosen for their passion for science, spirit of innovation and ingenuity, and effective communication skills.

#builtbygirls Challenge

#BUILTBYGIRLS invites girls to submit a new product concept, design and/or working prototype for the chance to win $10,000. Finalists will get the trip of a lifetime to San Francisco to pitch in front of expert girl judges, tech moguls and industry experts.

Purple Plow Challenge

Students in grades 5-8 are given many STEM challenges to solve.

Emperor Science Award

The Emperor Science Award program is a unique opportunity for 10th and 11th graders with a strong interest in science to work on a cancer research project with a mentoring scientist. 100 students across the U.S. will be selected.

LittleBits: Create an Illuminating Invention

Students ages 13-18 can create a glowing invention using LED lights and LittleBits. 

Invention Convention

The Invention Convention program is a project-based learning curriculum to help students learn to think critically by identifying problems in their world.

Best Student Contests for Social Emotional Learning

Take a stand against bullying

Challenge your grades 5–10 students to create short videos showing how they can work together to stand against bullying and support kindness.

Global Student Voice

Students in grades K-12 are invited to create a 1-minute video responding to this year’s theme “Activating Change.”

Discovery Award

The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Discovery Award provides students in grades 4-12 a unique opportunity to research primary sources and develop outstanding projects that feature Unsung Heroes who can serve as role models and inspire others to create change.

G2 Overachievers

Entrants submit 1,000 to 1,500 handwritten words expressing how they, or a student they know, work outside the classroom to benefit others. One student grant winner will earn $12,500 to further their education and/or continue their good works. The winner’s school will also be awarded $2,500 to help enhance their efforts to foster student overachievement. 

Red Nose Challenge

The Red Nose Challenge invites children in grades 3–8 to create a 1-2 minute video explaining why it’s important to help end child poverty and show how they plan to make a difference, for the chance to win exciting prizes.

World of 7 Billion Student Video

Students can create a short video–up to 60 seconds–about human population growth that highlights one of the following global challenges: Advancing Women and Girls, Feeding 10 Billion, or Preventing Pollution. All videos must include: a) how population growth impacts the issue b) at least one idea for a sustainable solution.

Celebrating Every Individual–Everyone Matters

Students are invited to write a first-person monologue of a famous figure of your choice. Then, they must create a 3-minute video challenge. Winning students win a trip to the White House!

Best Student Contests for The Arts

Call for Women Artists: Her Flag

This contest seeks 36 female collaborators in 36 states to help with the creation of a printed flag to celebrate the anniversary of the ratification of the19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. The participating artists will represent each of the 36 states that helped pass the 19th Amendment.

Life is Good Tshirt Design Contest

Students ages 4-21 are invited to draw “Why Life is Good” for the chance to see their art on an official Life is Good tee. 

The ArtEffect Project

The ArtEffect Project teaches middle and high school students their power to effect positive change through creative storytelling that celebrates Unsung Heroes from history. Students must submit high-quality creative art projects in the following mediums: visual arts, narrative film, theater, and creative nonfiction.

Best Student Contests for Social Studies

National History Day

National History Day (NHD) is an annual event for teachers and students in grades 6-12 that promotes critical thinking skills through project-based learning.

C-SPAN’s 2019 StudentCam Competition

This national contest invites all middle school students (grades 6-8) and high school students (grades 9-12) to create a 5-7 minute documentary, based on the theme: “What does it mean to be American?”

We’d love to hear—what are your favorite student contests and competitions? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook, and we’ll keep adding to this list!

Plus, don’t forget to check out all of our great teacher contests happening right now.

50+ Student Contests

Posted by Ruth Lyons

Ruth is the Gifted and Talented Coordinator for RSU 22 in Central Maine. Ruth received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. During her 15 years in education, Ruth has been a regular education teacher, GT teacher, and school administrator.

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