NYT 2nd Annual STEM Writing Contest

NYT 2nd Annual STEM Writing Contest

For this contest, The 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.

Why do hummingbirds nap? How do coronavirus vaccines work? Can two robotic spacecraft land on the moon at once? How do plant roots compete for water? Do foods like kiwis and cherries affect our sleep patterns?
 

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.

That’s what Times journalists do every day across our ScienceHealth and Technology sections, and it’s what Science News and Science News for Students do on their sites too, where journalists explain things like meteor showers, the science of ghosts and how sleep may affect test scores.

So what questions do you have about how the world works? What science, technology, engineering, math or health questions might be inspired by your own life or experiences? What innovations, processes or problems in any of these areas puzzle or intrigue you? What concepts in STEM — whether from biology, physics, psychology, computer science, algebra or calculus — have you learned about, in or out of school, that might be useful or fun to explain to others?

The best of this kind of writing includes three elements we’ll be asking you to include, too:

  • 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?

Read more about the contest here!

 

After a College Applicant Hits ‘Send’

After a College Applicant Hits ‘Send’

“Something beautiful is being formed in the dumpster fire that is senior fall.” 

Kelly Corrigan’s 2019 New York Times article, After a College Applicant Hits ‘Send’, has tons of these great tidbits. You’ll laugh, and cringe, and hopefully think about how small this moment is in the grand scheme of things. But in all seriousness, it’s an article about the growth that can come from just surviving the process that is applying to college today (it was SO much easier way back when). It can be about something more than — or other than — where a student gets in. 

With decisions from some of our nation’s most selective colleges and universities coming out, I like to post some articles on the process that provide a little bit of perspective. My guess is, for the most part, parents will be reading them (but we hope students do, too!). Parents of seniors: you’ve got this! Congratulate your student for making it through what has been an insane year to apply to college. 

Parents of juniors: you’re up next! So here’s something important for that group to consider:

Deciding where you belong in the process has a lot to do with how you answer these questions: What will happen if you let them lead, and what will happen if you don’t? Another worthwhile thought experiment goes like this: If we decide they’ll find their way one way or another, if we agree that any one acceptance letter is not the prize, what could the reward be? Developing comfort with uncertainty? Expanding self-knowledge? Building new capacities and a sense of agency? Because that kind of personal growth is not too much to ask of this process. And what a grand outcome that would be.

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Coming of Age in 2020: A Special Multimedia Contest for Teenagers in the U.S.

Coming of Age in 2020: A Special Multimedia Contest for Teenagers in the U.S.

This tumultuous year has changed us all, but perhaps no generation has been more affected than yours. Teenagers are experiencing their formative years trapped inside and missing — or reinventing — milestones while a pandemic rages, an economic collapse threatens, the 2020 election looms, school as you once knew it has ceased to exist, and civics lessons in books have shifted to “civics lessons in the streets” as young people participate in what may be the largest protest movement in U.S. history.

The NYT’s want to hear about your experiences, in whatever way you want to tell them — whether in words or images, audio or video. This is their first-ever multimedia contest, essentially a challenge to document what you’re living through, and express yourself creatively on any aspect, large or small, that you think is important or interesting. For instance:

  • Maybe you already have images on your camera roll that say something meaningful or poignant or funny or profound about your life this year.

  • Maybe you’ve kept a diary or sketchbook — or texts, emails or handwritten letters — that can show what you’ve experienced.

  • Or, maybe you’d like to make something new, whether an essay, poem, song, cartoon, illustration, graph, video or podcast. We’ll accept nearly anything you can upload digitally.

No matter what format you choose, trust us: Even if you don’t think you have something to say, you do. There are stories only you can tell.

Here’s what you need to know:

 

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3rd Annual New York Times Podcast Contest

3rd Annual New York Times Podcast Contest

Awesome opportunity via the NYT/The Learning Network:

“We are running our Third Annual Podcast Contest right now for middle and high school students until May 19. To enter, students should submit a five-minute podcast on any subject they want, including sports, music, politics and literature. They can work individually or as a team, and they can create their podcasts from home.

If you’re not sure how to get started with podcasting, we just published two new resources that can help: our Podcasting Unit and our Podcasting Mentor Text. Each provides a step-by-step guide for creating an original podcast, and we offer 23 winning student podcasts as models.

Sign up for our free webinar on April 29 to help you learn more about our podcast contest and podcasting in general. After all, podcasting is a great way for students to strengthen their writing, research and digital media skills.”

 

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Free Digital Access to The New York Times Until July 6

Free Digital Access to The New York Times Until July 6

Starting this week, all high school students and teachers in the United States can get free digital access to The New York Times until July 6. If you want to sign up here’s how.

And…20 ways the paper can keep you entertained and informed. Hint: you can use it to explore your academic interests!

 

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The One Prize That Matters Most

Life is not a contest, and the world is not an arena. Just by being here, unique among all others, offering contributions that no one else can give, you have already won the one prize that matters most.

I read an interesting Opinion piece in the Times the other day, that ended with the quote above. The title, “Let’s Hear It for the Average Child” confused me a bit, because there is nothing presented that shouts “average” to me, and I don’t see how being a student “whose talents lie outside the arena” makes one at all “average,” however average is defined (which is not clear in this piece).

But I “get it” and love the overarching message: you don’t need to be an award-winning, straight-A-getter, popular, all-subjects-enjoying, all-star athlete. Often, student’s whose gifts don’t translate to how society rewards them are the biggest “winners” of all.

It’s too bad we don’t more often—and outwardly—award students who are kind, compassionate, empathetic, self-aware, reflective and who have developed an understanding of how the world works on a deeper level. The students who get that it’s not all about their grades, or their resume, or where they go to college. In fact, it’s not even all about them.

I can’t wait for the day that colleges seek to measure and reward Margaret Renkl‘s “average” student. Until then, I’ll keep encouraging students to do the best they can in school but also to actively pursue their genuine interests, whatever they are, and engage with their communities (home, school, online, wherever they find and develop them!) in a positive and meaningful way. School is a central, significant part of your life in your teens and twenties, but it is not who you are, and it does not define you. 

 

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My Weekly Reads: Top 5

 

Awkward teens (and 20- and 30-somethings) rejoice. Study finds that it might take 63 years, but you will, eventually, shed all traces of your awkward middle-school self. (Fast Company)

Adderall usage by individuals without attention deficit is out of control. Fast Company reminds us we have the power to control our brains, sans meds. (Fast Company)

Diverse Hollywood, in NYC? Steiner Studio lot at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is surprisingly under the radar. It costs a third of most other film schools—$18,400 a year—and part of its mission is to admit women and minorities whose stories aren’t usually told. (New York Times)

And the award for the most unsatisfying industry to work in post-college goes to anything in finance (kind of). Meanwhile, in self-reported data from more than 13,000 recently graduated college students, such industries as technology, biotechnology, consulting, and arts, media, and entertainment top a list of “job satisfaction” ratings. Consulting -> we agree! (Poets & Quants)

Depression strikes today’s teen girls especially hard, and I see this firsthand in my work with high school students as they prepare and apply to college. Brains constantly “on-tech,” and in particular social media, may not be helping, but talking about it and identifying symptoms of depression early on can help teens get back on the right track. (NPR)

Michael Bloomberg on How to Succeed in Business (and Life?)

This is a fun, honest read. Particularly relevant to this blog is the first section, Choosing a College, in which he says:

Nobody remembers where you went to school. The first job they may ask, by the third job they won’t remember to. People put too much emphasis on that. It’s much more important that you go to a place where you fit in and which has decent academics. People say they can’t afford a college? My parents took out a mortgage, I had a job every summer working in a faculty parking lot. Then I got lucky, Sputnik was launched and the government created national defense loans.

Given the article’s emphasis on education, Bloomberg even goes on to comment on the MBA, and that it matters, but….:

The part that’s most important in an education is how to deal with people. There’s no job I know that you do by yourself, and I learned as much from the two guys I worked for at Salomon Brothers, Billy Salomon and John Gutfreund, as I’d learned at Harvard. In the end, it’s people skills that you need. Whether you remember that Columbus arrived in 1492 or not — a lot of the facts you memorize are immaterial.

Read the full article online!

Using the Modern Love Podcast to Teach Narrative Writing

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, but applicable all year ’round, here is an idea from Kinana Qaddour for using the popular Times podcast to encourage narrative writing.

Modern Love is a series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love. Each week, an actor also reads one of the essays in a podcast. Though the stories are often about romantic love, they also take on love of family, friends, and even pets. This teacher finds their themes universal and the range of essays engaging models to help her students find their own voices.

In my work, I have found that most students have little or no experience writing personal narratives, which they need to write for the personal statement/Common Application essay requirement when applying to college. Naturally, I love this idea—so give it a read and share with a teacher who may find it useful!

The Plague of ‘Early Decision’

 

Another great article by Frank Bruni on the craziness of college admissions, specifically, early decision.

But what worries me more is how the early-application process intensifies much of what’s perverse about college admissions today: the anxiety-fueling, disappointment-seeding sense that one school above all others glimmers in the distance as the perfect prize; the assessment of the most exclusive environments as, ipso facto, the superior ones.

That’s hooey, but it’s stubborn hooey, as the early-application vogue demonstrates.

Worth a read here!