Do your students have an important question related to science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), or health? The New York Times wants to hear from them!

For its 2nd annual STEM Writing Contest, The New York Times is asking middle to high school students ages 11-19 anywhere across the globe to submit a STEM-related question along with a 500-word explanation. Submissions are open until 2 March 2021.

What kinds of questions is The Times looking for? It can run the gamut – from questions related to STEM concepts students have learned in class, to questions they have about things they’ve observed in their own backyards or neighborhoods. Whether it’s a subject students already know a lot about or are just beginning to understand, the important thing is that it’s something they’re really curious about. According to the newspaper, examples include questions like: “Can two robotic spacecraft land on the moon at the same time? Why do hummingbirds take naps? How do coronavirus vaccines work? How do plant roots compete with each other for water? Do foods like kiwis and cherries affect how we sleep?”

Through the contest, students will get a glimpse into how science and technology journalists do their jobs. According to the Times, essays should:

  • Begin with an “engaging hook” that enthralls the reader from the very first sentence.
  • Include research and quote experts, so readers know the essay is credible.
  • Explain why the topic is important. Why should people care? Who is being impacted? How is it relevant? 

Students outside the U.S. and United Kingdom must be 16-19 years old to participate. Read the full guidelines here

The Times is encouraging teachers to print out this announcement and post it on a bulletin board for students to reference.