Monday, March 16, 2009

How to be a contest winner

For some people entering and winning contests is a full time job. Some people probably sit around trying to figure out how they manage to win all of those contests and win all of those fabulous prizes. It's not as hard as it seems. From recipes to essays to Internet contests the real secret to being a winner is no secret at all. Just keep reading.

  1. Check the dates of the contest and make sure it is still going on. You will have a better chance of winning contests with shorter durations because people will have less time to enter.
  2. Make sure you are eligible to play. Contests may have certain requirements on who is eligible to enter and who is not so you want to pay close attention to that information if you want to be a winner.
  3. Have a thorough understanding of the rules of the game. Any deviation from those rules will mean you are not be eligible to win.
  4. Determine how many times you can enter the contest then enter accordingly to improve your chances of winning.
  5. Follow the instructions on how your entry form is supposed to look. This is where many people who enter contests mess up. Many entries get tossed out because contest entrants don't follow the instructions on how their entry was supposed to be submitted. Following the directions increases your odds of winning.
  6. Strategize. Have a plan on how you're going to go about entering the contest and how you're going to make your entry stand out from all of the others.
Enough reading, now go ahead and win that contest!

Monday, March 9, 2009

ThinkQuest Website Competition 2009

Oracle Think Quest is holding a website competition which has some awesome prizes. You have to make an educational website from one the categories in their list and then make it good enough to compete with other teams from all over the world.

All teams need a Coach (teacher) and 3-6 students. There are 3 age groups: 19 & Under, 15 & Under, and 12 & Under. Extra points will be awarded to teams that have members from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. Choose a category and create a website that you will upload to their server. The Evaluation Criteria explains how your site will be scored. Be sure to review the Rules before you begin and submit your entry before April 2, 2009. Here is how the website will be judged:
Content(10 points)
  • Website expertly explores the chosen topic, evidenced by depth of information, supporting details and a variety of sources.
  • All content is accurate and current.
  • Media elements (e.g. movies, photo essays, digital stories) include a concise written synopsis that enhances the portrayal of the topic.
Writing & Organization(10 points)
  • Content is written in English using correct grammar, punctuation and spelling.
  • Writing is concise and easy to understand.
  • All content is effectively organized so as to hold the reader’s attention and ease transition between sections.
Originality(10 points)
  • Website is creative and original in its approach to presenting the topic.
  • A variety of information sources are used, including primary sources such as interviews, surveys, personal observations, original artwork and multimedia recordings.
  • Written content, and where appropriate, photographs and artwork are clearly the original work of the students.
  • The majority of written content is not paraphrased or copied from outside sources.
  • Website structure, design and style are unique and original.
  • Please see Rules for information regarding plagiarism.
Educational Relevance(10 points)
  • Content is written and organized for a student audience.
  • Team effectively describes its intended audience and relevance to teaching and learning according to the purpose of the website.
  • All content (e.g. written, media elements) is educational and informative.
Global Impact*(10 points)
  • Team has selected a topic of global importance and maintained focus on this topic throughout their website.
  • Website proactively presents diverse viewpoints on the topic, with clear differentiation between opinion and fact.
  • Website intentionally raises awareness, presents action steps, and effectively engages others in addressing the issue and making a difference.
Citations(10 points)
  • All sources used to research and create the website are clearly identified and credited, ideally as footnotes on the relevant page as well as on a summary citations page.
  • In-Text References are effectively utilized throughout the website.
  • If the website includes legally protected materials (e.g. copyrighted information, images, audio, video), permission to use these materials is clearly stated or noted as public domain.
  • Citations are credible and thorough enough to verify content.
Collaboration(10 points)
  • Site Profile and website include a candid narrative on how the team worked together to create the website, divide tasks, share responsibilities, and overcome challenges.
  • Students share reflections on difficulties encountered, group problem solving, and teamwork as experienced during the competition.
Team Diversity*(10 points)
  • Student team members come from multiple socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural groups, or have overcome other challenges to participate.
  • Team effectively utilizes their diversity to explore and present the topic.
  • Site Profile and website explain how the team is diverse and the ways in which this diversity is reflected in the development and content of the website.
Website Structure, Appearance, and Function(10 points)
  • The site’s design and layout make it easy to use. Every page is visually well organized.
  • Colors, fonts, and overall layout are creative, artistic, consistent across the website and do not interfere with the ability to easily read content.
  • There are limited, or no technical problems (e.g. broken links, missing files, etc.).
Media use(10 points)
  • Creative and purposeful use of media (e.g. images, audio, video, animation, games, interactive features, etc.) enhances the presentation of information by engaging the user more deeply and demonstrating key concepts.
  • All media elements are an essential component creating understanding and emotional impact.
Prizes for ThinkQuest competition winners may include a trip to ThinkQuest Live in San Francisco, laptop computers, digital cameras, and school monetary grants. Every team that enters will have a chance to have their site published in their Library. Winners will be announced on June 1, 2009.

Hence, if you want to take part then you better hurry up because the entries are closing up on April 2nd, 2009. Best of luck in the contest.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to win a writing Contest - Part 2

As I outlined some points earlier this week, now I will discuss some more points which play a vital role in winning a writing contest, they are as follows:
  1. If possible, look at previous winning essays. This will give you a good idea of what the judges are looking for. Some essay contests are looking for a certain message or a particular style. Other contests value unconventionality and innovation. You will have a better chance of winning if you give them what they want.
  2. Come up with a good hook. Particularly with short essays, you win or lose it in the first sentence or two. Ask your reader a question that will get her thinking, or introduce a perspective she may have not have thought about before. Remember, the judges will be reading a lot of essays. Make yours stand out from the first sentence.
  3. Make sure that your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are flawless. If you are entering essay in a contest, the judges will expect it to be perfect. Leaving in grammatical mistakes or awkward sentences looks like laziness. Be sure to have a friend proofread it for you, then look it over one more time yourself.
That's about it, and you'll be needing nothing more than this if you want to win a writing contest, I'll also write an article on how to be a contest winner in the coming weeks.