Competitions for Educators Educator competitions increase students’ interest and excitement for science

For January 2021 ORISE is hosting two educator competitions!

Competitions for Educators

January Social Media Contest

Deadline: on or before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, Sunday, January 31th.

What better way to celebrate the New Year than with a new social media contest! Throughout the month of January, ORISE wants to know your best at-home STEM activities that students can complete from the comfort of their homes. To enter the contest, follow ORISE on social media, fill out this (very short) survey, and comment your activity on the Facebook post about this competition!


TWO randomly selected teachers will win sets of thirty at-home reusable lab kits for their classrooms!

Each kit will contain the following items:

  • 50, 100, and 500 ml plastic Erlenmeyer flasks
  • 100, 250, 500 ml plastic beakers
  • 4 3 ml pipettes
  • 50ml plastic graduated cylinder
  • A roll of pH strips
  • 4 8ml plastic test tubes with lids
  • 1 test tube rack
  • 1 pair of forceps
  • Goggles
  • Thermometer
  • 1 plastic funnel
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • 1 plastic stir rod
  • 1 Pocket scale
  • 1 plastic shoe box to contain the supplies


  • The contest closes at 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 31st, 2021.
  • Teachers must teach in the United States, a U.S. Territory, or a DoDEA school to be eligible to win.
  • Teachers are eligible to win 2 ORISE competitions in a 12 month period.

If you have any questions, please contact

To view the current ORISE lesson plan library, visit

Competitions for Educators

Not Your AVERAGE Lesson Plan Competition

Deadline: on or before 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time, Sunday, January 31st

Graphing is where I draw the line. *Ba Dum Tss* We hope not, because the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education (ORISE) is asking you to whip out those ol’ excel sheets and graphing calculators for this month’s lesson plan competition! For this competition, we are asking teachers to create a STEM lesson plan that involves data collecting and graphing for a chance to win a mini-grant! THREE teachers will receive mini-grants of up to $1,500 to help buy equipment for their classrooms!


  • 1st Place: $1,500.00
  • 2nd Place: $1,000.00
  • 3rd Place: $500.00


  • Interested educators are invited to submit an original lesson plan to by 12 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 31, 2021.
  • To avoid plagiarism, please submit a lesson plan that you have written. We understand that many activities are developed by other teachers; just make sure that you put your own spin on the activity.
  • Lesson plan may focus on any topic as long as the lesson plan incorporates graphing and data collecting.
  • Lesson plans should include the following:
    • lesson title
    • teacher name and school
    • target grade level
    • time required for lesson
    • standards/objectives (NGSS or Common Core)
    • materials required
    • instructional steps for introduction, activities, and closure
    • assessment strategies
    • differentiation strategies
  • Lesson plans will be scored using a rubric, and winners will be announced late February!
  • Teachers must teach in the United States, a U.S. Territory, or a DoDEA school to be eligible to win.
  • Teachers are eligible to win 2 ORISE competitions in a 12 month period. 

Note: Lesson plans submitted for the competition may be shared with other educators via the ORISE website. Plans are subject to revision and edits by ORISE staff before they are shared, so please submit in an editable format (Not PDF).

To view the current ORISE lesson plan library, visit


December 7th-13th is Computer Science Education Week! This week is held annually in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906). In the 1930’s the first programmable computer was created, but trying to teach this new skill must have been arduous and perplexing. Through the month of December, ORISE wants to hear your ideas on how to teach computer science without technology. Share an idea or activity that teaches computer science without the use of technology. 

With the holidays right around the corner, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) thinks it’s time for a break from lesson plans. Here is an opportunity to put on your dancing shoes and creative hats for a chance to win an Apple Watch and AirPods. ORISE wants you to create a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) song music video with original lyrics. The song must be connected to at least one standard. Teachers of any grade level or subject are invited to submit a STEAM music video and song lyrics. Three teachers will win Apple Watches and AirPods. Put on your creative hats and let’s get boppin’!

Congratulations to the winners:

  • Covey Denton, Sallie B Howard School of the Arts, Wilson, NC
    Music Video: Cloud Types
  • Heidi Fee, Charlestown, RI
    Music Video: Don’t Treat Soil Like Dirt
  • Cheryl Burchett, Beaumont Magnet Academy, Knoxville, TN
    Music Video: Art is Investigation

As teachers across the country settle into a virtual or hybrid model of a classroom this school year, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education wants to help your virtual teaching go as smoothly as possible. Here is an opportunity for you to win a complete video studio package for all your virtual teaching needs! Throughout the month of October, ORISE asked teachers to submit a lesson plan that converts an in-person interactive lesson to an at home digital lesson plan. 

Congratulations to the winners:

  • Tita Lovell: Flowery Branch High School Flowery Branch, Georgia
    Lesson plan: Moon Landing Challenge
  • Greta Shipman: Green Acres Elementary Douglassville Georgia
    Lesson plan: Who were the Algonquin Native Americans?
  • Allison Hardy: Hillwood High School Nashville, Tennessee
    Lesson plan: Stoichiometry explained through particle diagrams

Calling all teachers! To celebrate National Chemistry Week, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wants to award a teacher with sets of thirty at-home reusable lab kits for their classroom. 

Congratulations to the Winner:

  • Tabitha Birdsong: Oakhaven Elementary Memphis, TN
    Activity plan: PB&J Coding

Throughout the spring semester, teachers have put their flexibility to use in the digital classroom. The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education wants to reward you for all of your hard work! Throughout the months of June and July, ORISE is asking teachers to submit a digital resource with a lesson or activity plan to go with it. The digital resource could be a video of a lab or experiment, creative video, virtual breakout, or anything that you have developed to teach online! Teachers should also submit the activity, lesson, or lab plan to go with the resource. 


  • 1st Place: Patricia Lawrimore, Riverwood International Charter, Sandy Springs, GA
    Lesson Plan: Mystery Box

  • 2nd Place: Lisa Buckner, Linden Elementary School, Oak Ridge, TN
    Lesson Plan: Night at the Museum: A Social Studies & Biography Project

  • 3rd Place: Marcela St. Onge, Stone Memorial High School, Crossville, TN
    Lesson Plan: Career Infographic

Time for another social media competition! Throughout the month of July, ORISE wants to hear more about your experience in the virtual classroom. Last month, we found out about the resources that were helpful to your experience. This month we want to know what resources, tools, or platforms did you look for or need during the last two months but were unable to find?

Congratulations to our July Social Media Winners!
  • Dusty Carroll, Seneca High School, Mt. Laurel, New Jersey
  • Emily Sevenz, Maple Grove Middle School, Coon Rapids, Minnesota
  • Jessica Sphar, Sweetwater High School, San Diego, California

What a crazy year this has been! Throughout the month of June, ORISE wants to hear about your experience in the virtual classroom. What resources, tools, or platforms did you find most helpful in the last two months?

Congratulations to our June Social Media Winners!

  • Denise Wright, Ocean Bay Middle School, Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Michelle Johnson, Maury Middle School, Dandridge, TN
  • Lisa Miller, West Central Middle School, Stronghurst, IL

How will you engage your students in exciting ways when you return to school in the fall? The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education wants to see your best interactive lesson plans! Throughout the month of May, we are asking teachers to submit lesson plans that will engage students in hands-on, interactive learning. Think outside the box by not using traditional worksheets or online projects! THREE teachers will win a Touchjet Pond Touchscreen Projector!


  • 1st Place: Emily Butterfield, Bearden Middle School, Knoxville, TN
    Lesson Plan: Invasive Species Mitigation
  • 2nd Place: Lauren Wilmoth, Oak Ridge High School, Oak Ridge, TN
    Lesson Plan: Demographic Data Dive
  • 3rd Place: Patricia Lawrimore, Riverwood International Charter School, Sandy Springs, GA
    Lesson Plan: What can we do to improve the air quality at our school?

Let’s get 3-Dimensional! ORISE supports educators teaching using the 3-Dimensional Framework of NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). ORISE wants to see your best 3D lesson plans! Teachers of any grade level are invited to submit a science or STEM lesson plan incorporating each of the three dimensions (Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas). Each should be thoroughly identified in the lesson plan. THREE teachers will win mini-grants to purchase supplies for their classroom!


  • 1st Place: Rebecca Van Duker, Griffin Creek Elementary School, Medford, OR
    Lesson Plan: Sounds All Around
  • 2nd Place: Emily Curtis, Van Buren County High School, Spencer, TN
    Lesson Plan: An Argument Driven Inquiry for the Law of Conservation of Matter
  • 3rd Place: Abby Cornelius, Blue Valley North High School, Overland, KS
    Lesson Plan: SuperPowered Plushies

Ready, set, GO! The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is hosting a lesson plan competition for just math teachers! Throughout the month of March, ORISE wants to see your best math lesson plan! The lesson plan can be any math topic or grade level.

Congratulations to the Winners:

  • 1st Place: Hannah Painter, Bethany Christian School, Oxford, PA
    Lesson Plan: The Interactive Coordinate Plane
  • 2nd Place: Nicholas Corrigan, Jefferson Middle School, Oak Ridge, TN
    Lesson Plan: A Mathematical Inquiry of Oak Ridge Cemesto Homes
  • 3rd Place: Beth Flanigan, Willowville Elementary School, Cincinnati, OH
    Lesson Plan: Math Olympics

Welcome to the New Year! Can you see it? A classroom filled with students eager to learn, engage, and explore... but as teachers, we know that is not always the case after Winter break, so here’s the challenge: The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wanted you to engage students using phenomena! For example, what are the molecular characteristics of water that cause it to form a “water hat” when dumped on a person’s head, and why does someone’s tears in space look different than someone’s tears on Earth?

Congratulations to the Winners:

November 2019: Makerspace Lesson Plan Competition

As teachers, we know that one of the best ways for students to learn is to create! The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wanted to see how you incorporated Makerspace in your math or science classroom! 

K-6 Winners:

  • 1st Place: Rebecca Van Duker, Medford, OR
    Lesson Plan: Space Odyssey Making Challenge: Mission Mars
  • 2nd Place: Ruth Coats, Clarksville, TN
    Lesson Plan: Launching to the Moon
  • 3rd Place: Jessica Suri, Laveen, AZ
    Lesson Plan: Mesopotamian Filter Project

7-12 Winners:

  • 1st Place: George Hademenos, Richardson, TX
    Lesson Plan: Oh the Places You’ll Go… to do Science with ROAVEE
  • 2nd Place: Edward Gunkle, Middleburg, PA
    Lesson Plan: Rube Goldberg Machines
  • 3rd Place: Christine Lauer, Marietta, GA
    Lesson Plan: Energy is Everywhere

September 2019: Social Media Contest

EUREKA! As teachers, we know that one of the best ways for students to learn is to discover it themselves. ORISE wanted to see how teachers incorporate inquiry based learning in their math or science classroom!

  • Water Movement” by Linda Lohner, 10th grade teacher at Wallenpaupack Area High School in Hawley, PA
  • Ocean Acidification” by Eleanor Williamson, 9th grade teacher at Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction in Yonkers, NY
  • “The Martial Arts and Science of Rotational Inertia” by Jose Rivas, 11-12th grade teacher at Lennox Math, Science and Technology Academy in Lennox, CA

August 2019: Social Media Contest

Throughout the month of August, we wanted to know how has inquiry based learning benefited your students? Or if it is new to you, how do you imagine inquiry based learning benefiting your students?

Winners of the social media contest:

  • Jacqueline Creasy, Union Elementary School, Gallatin, TN
  • Emily McDonald, Red Bank High School, Chattanooga, TN
  • Luke McKinley, King Toledo Public Schools, Toledo, OH
  • Melany Stawnyczji, Windy Hill Elementary, Owings, MD
  • Tracy Call, Rockfish Elementary School, Fayetteville, NC

July 2019: Social Media Contest

Throughout the month of July, we wanted to know what does/can inquiry based learning look like in YOUR classroom that may be different from another classroom! 


  • Stephanie Austin, Pontotoc, Mississippi, South Pontotoc Elementary
  • Brittany Weeks, Lilburn, Georgia, Trickum Middle School
  • Vanessa Wentzloff, Auburn Hills, Michigan, Avondale High School

June 2019: Inquiry-Based Learning Social Media Contest

Teachers! School may be out, but summer social media contests are just beginning! Throughout the month of June, we wanted to know what does inquiry based learning look like in science and math classrooms!

Congrats to our June Social Media Contest winners Stephanie Schlimgen, Crystal Bigham, and Wendy Smith!

Mini-Grant Lesson Plan Competition for NSTA St. Louis Attendees

ORISE participated in the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) National Conference. To enter, teachers submitted their best STEM lesson plan. 


May 2019: Let’s Review, Review Game Competition

For May, ORISE wanted to see your best science or math review game. The activity covered the materials with which you are preparing your students for end of year assessments. 

  • 1st Place: Linda Bugg, Bess T. Shepherd Elementary, Chattanooga, TN 
    Lesson Plan: Escape Room Science Review
  • 2nd Place: Kim Nickell, Midway Middle School, Kingston, TN
    Lesson Plan: Buzzword Review Game
  • 3rd Place: Katherine Kirby, John Early Middle School, Nashville, TN
    Lesson Plan: Clue-ology

April 2019: Drop Everything and Read About Science Lesson Plan Competition

In honor of Drop Everything and Read April 12, ORISE asked to see teachers most engaging and hands on lesson plan that integrates science and literacy! 

  • Winner: Greta Shipman, Green Acres Elementary, Smyrna, GA
    Lesson Plan: Seeds All Around Us
  • Runner-up: Rachel Cahill, Penn-Mont Academy, Hollidaysburg, PA
    Lesson Plan: Can You Help Me?
  • Judges’ Choice: Kellene Colin, Kay Carl Elementary, Las Vegas, NV
    Lesson Plan: Rapunzel Needs Your Help!

March 2019: You, Me, and ISTE Lesson Plan Competition

In March, ORISE four teachers to ISTE! These teachers submitted two lesson plans, one in each of their content areas. 

Congratulations to the winners:

  • 1st Place: Michael Buerstner and Peter Lauzon, Irmo, SC
    Lesson Plans: Point and Non-Point Water Pollution and Freshwater Environment Assessment
  • 2nd Place: Barbara Dunham and Mildred Henderson, Birmingham, AL
    Lesson Plans: Anemometers on the Move and Incredible Matter

January 2019: Math and Science Lesson Plan Competition

ORISE is sending four teachers to the National Science Teachers Association Conference or the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference!

Congratulations to the winners:

  • 1st place: Charles Canestaro, Cortland Senior High School, Cortland, NY
    Lesson Plan: Europa Rover Landing System Project
  • 2nd place: Alicia Miller, Lewiston Elementary School, Evans, GA
    Lesson Plan: Sand Sleuths
  • 3rd place tie: Julie Pepperman, Heritage Middle School, Maryville, TN
    Lesson Plan: Surviving Extinction
  • 3rd place tie: Sarah Jackson, Lenoir City Intermediate/Middle School, Lenoir City, TN
    Lesson Plan: Roller Coaster Math

October 2018: Classroom Makerspace Lesson Plan Competition

In October, teachers shared a lesson plan incorporating the use of a makerspace into their content area class. First place winners in each category were awarded a Makerspace Easy Pack, an Invention Easy Pack, and a Tool Kit Easy Pack. Second place winners in each grade band were awarded a Makerspace Easy Pack, and second place winners in each grade band were awarded a Makerspace Basic Supply Easy Pack! See the full list of winners below:

Winners Grades K-6:

Winners Grades 7-8:

September 2018: Drone On!

In September, teachers shared with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education their best hands-on STEM lesson plans for the opportunity to win drones for their classrooms. Frist place awarded a  set of Parrot mini-drones and accessories. Second- and third-place winners received one Parrot mini-drone. In all, there were entries from teachers in 10 different states and Japan. See the full list of winners below:

Winners Grades 7-9:

Winners Grades 10-12:

August 2018: Kids Can Compute: Learning with Raspberry Pi

In August, teachers shared how they were using Raspberry Pi for a STEM lesson. Winners will be announce mid-September and will receive a Pi-Top modular computers for their classrooms.

Congratulations to our winners!

  • Amanda Callahan-Mims, Spring Hill Elementary School, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Gary Cipinko, King Arts Academy, Evanston, Illinois

June 2018: Learning in 3 Dimensions

In this contest, teachers had the opportunity to submit a lesson plan that integrates 3D printing into their classroom. Congratulations to our winners!


May 2018: Fun with the Sun Lesson Plan Competition

In May, teachers were invited to submit a lesson plan that related to solar energy! Congratulations to our winners!

K-6th Grade:

  • First place: Jessica Everitt, 4th grade, Hardin Valley Elementary School
    Lesson Plan: Locating the Sun
  • Second place: Sally Suttle, 1st grade, Grand Oaks School
  • Third place: Kelli Harvey, 4th grade, Petros-Joyner Elementary School

7-12th Grade:

  • First place: Lesley Brinkmann, Physical Science, Northeast High School
  • Second place: Jane Lyengar, Business & Information Technology, Mount Vernon High School
  • Third place: Stephanie Sluss, Chemistry, Oliver Springs High School

April 2018: Put the "M" in STEM Lesson Plan Competition

In April, teachers shared how they put the “M” in STEM by submitting STEM lesson plans that explicitly address mathematics standards.

Congratulations to our winners!

Elementary School:

  • First place: Jennie Wright, 4th grade, Sullins Academy
  • Second place: Nancy Holloway, K-5, Kingston Elementary School
  • Third place: Jessica Chambers, 2nd grade, Pi Beta Phi Elementary School

Middle School:

  • First place: Sarah Hampton, 8th grade, Sullins Academy
  • Second place: Donna Budynas, 6th grade, Hutchison School
  • Third place: Charles Canestaro, 8th grade, Cortland Junior-Senior High School

January 2018: The Gold Goes: The Math and Science of the 2018 Winter Olympics

In January,  we asked teachers how they are planning to integrate Olympic-themed math or science lessons into their classrooms.

Congratulations to our latest winners!