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Contests & Competitions & Other Opportunities

  • Money Smart Kid Essay Contest -- Students in grades 7-11 can now enter the 12th annual Money Smart Kid essay contest and compete for the chance to win $1,000 to help boost their college savings. The 400-word or fewer essays are due by March 16. For more information and the application, visit Iowa JumpStart. This year's essay question: Please write a brief newspaper article describing the potential devastating effects of a natural disaster (fire, flood, hurricane, etc.) on a family’s financial situation. Please select only one type of natural disaster for the focus of your article. Be sure to include tips and resources for readers to help prepare them for a potential future unexpected crisis.
  • AYN RAND’s BOOKS ESSAY CONTEST is available to 8th-12th grade students. Each group of students has a different book to write about. For details go to (Deadline 8th -10th grade is May 1, 2018; 11th/12th grade is May 15, 2018.)

2018 Letters about Literature
Write a letter to an author about how his/her book has impacted your life. 
At each level, first-place Iowa winner receives $75. Second- and third-place Iowa winners receive $50. Honorable mention winners receive $25. National winner receives $1000.

Deadline: March 27, 2017

• $500 scholarship
• Networking
• Hands-on experience
• Global Youth Institute
• Paid fellowship

For more information, contact Mrs. Kunch.

Young Writers' Conference

        Elementary Grades 3-6

          Tuesday, March 7, 2017


          Secondary Grades 6-12

          Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Location: William Penn University in Oskaloosa,              Speaker:  Sarah Prineas

Time: 9:00 am – 2:05 pm


The purpose of the Young Writers’ Conference is to celebrate the talents of young authors.  It is a day in which young authors have an opportunity to share some of their personal writing with peers, to hear from published authors, and to attend small group sessions. 


Young Writers’ Conference Program

The 2017 program will offer students a rich variety of experiences. The large group session will be conducted by keynote speaker Sarah Prineas this year.

Sarah Prineas, is a Fantasy Writer living in rural Iowa with her mad scientist husband, two kids, two dogs, two cats, chickens and a bunch of goats.  Sarah says her main thing is writing – I love to write, and talk about writing, and write emails to other writers.  And reading.  I read a lot. Mostly fantasy, but also romance and regular fiction. I live on 40 acres out in the countryside, and I’m working to restore the woods and prairie. So basically I’m either writing or I’m outside working on the land, canoeing around our lake, hiking, or gardening.  Or wrangling goats. 

Who can attend?

• Each elementary teacher in grades 3 - 6 may send two students from their class.

• In grades 7 - 12, school districts may send the equivalent of one student per section of English. (Small school districts may send two students per grade, whichever is more).

Adults will find many activities to enjoy with their students. Teachers will be assigned to facilitate a sharing session. A minimum ratio of one chaperone per 8 elementary and 8 sec­ondary students is strongly needed.

Teachers are encouraged to select a heterogeneous, cross section of students with varying talents and abilities. Avoid selecting only “best” writers and try to include budding authors. Select students who have not attended in the past. Enthusiastic writers are as welcome as ac­complished writers.

How can I prepare my students NOW for the Young Writers’ Conference?

• Start all students writing now.

• Save all written work in a student/teacher folder.

• Encourage students to revise and polish pieces until the conference.

• Provide time for oral sharing of writing, followed by positive and honest response from the class. Students will be expected to share their writing with other students.

How do teachers select student participants for Young Writers’ Conference?

• Identify who would like to attend Young Writers’ Conference. Please choose students who have not attended in previous years.

• Students review pieces in portfolio, revise and edit for consideration.

• Suggestions for narrowing choices:

• Teacher chooses from file of selected pieces.

• Peers select – Display pieces on bulletin board, author reads aloud, students nominate based on previous sharing, former Young Writers’ Conference par­ticipants assist in selection, etc.

• High school class (English, journalism) judges a collection of pieces from elementary or middle school level.

• High school students trade pieces with middle school.

• Community members, such as retired teachers, read numbered student works.

• After student input and/or teacher screening, a random drawing could be used for final selection.

Timeline for Preparing Manuscripts

Every year, there are students who come with their manuscript in need of revision and editing. We want the students to be proud of their work and for it to be a good re­flection of their school district. 

During November/December students are selected for participation in the Young Writers’ Conference, based on various pieces of their writing.

In early January, the first copy of the students’ manuscripts should be proofread by the student and by someone other than the student. This someone could be the student’s teacher, the district’s YWC Committee Member, the school building YWC contact person, or the school principal. Appropriate topics should also be noted. Student registration is due by January 23, 2017.

By late February, the manuscripts should have been proofread, revised, and edited a couple times and are now ready for duplication.

By March, have the 11 copies made of each manuscript to ensure that each student can look forward to sharing their writing at the sharing session at the Young Writers’ Conference.

Writing Guidelines

Student participants will select an appropriate piece of their best writing to bring to the Young Writers’ Conference. (Please, no blood, guts, or gore.) Students need to be prepared to read aloud their piece of writing with a small group of students in a sharing session. During most of the sharing session, students will be in the role of audience, as both listener and responder.


Students should bring 11 copies of a revised, polished manuscript or collection of po­ems to disseminate to each person in their sharing session. Copies must be typed, with ample margins, limited to 500 words (around two pages) and may be illustrated.  All pieces need to be labeled with name of student, grade level and name of school and district. 

Manuscripts will not be collected by the agency. It is strongly en­couraged for each building to have their own collection. Registration materials will be emailed to contacts in December.


FEE: William Penn University is charging $1.25 per student in attendance. Students and facilitators can bring sack lunches or a pizza buffet is offered by Sodexo, Inc. for $3.75 in the dining center. Space is limited in the dining center. Bring money to pur­chase or school can submit a purchase order for students and teachers. Teachers are to eat with their students. Location assignments will be arranged for elementary groups.

Books from the author will be available at the conference for purchase when available. Books are priced from $9.00 – $15.00.  T-shirts/sweatshirts may be ordered ahead or available the day of the conference

Please direct questions regarding the conference to your building representative or contact Carol Ryon or Lisa Sines

Remember the Young Writers’ Conference is not a contest. Highly competitive selection should be avoided. Caution should be taken not to base selection of participants on one piece written for Young Writers’ Conference only.


May 2, 2017 at Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids
Sponsored by ITEC. Click link above for guidelines and rubrics and contact information if you have questions. 
• 3-D Rendering/Non-liinear Animation (includes CAD)
• Graphics/Publishing
• Innovative Technology Use
• Mobile Apps
• Music and Sound Design
• Programming
• Video or Linear Presentation (includes animation)
• Web Presence