feb-20-iheartvr-logo.pngI VR Research Challenge

Competition Opens: Friday, February 1st

Deadline: on or before 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Saturday, February 29th


Do you think virtual reality would spice up your classes? It’s your turn to convince us! The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wants your thoughts! Tell us why and how virtual reality should (or could) be used in the classroom! You can use any medium you would like including, but not limited to, infographic, commercial, animation, video, brochure, PowerPoint, persuasive paper, etc. Make your stance and you could be one of THREE winners to receive your own Oculus Go Headset! (Note: due to the manufacturer’s health & safety warnings, no submissions from students under 13 years old will be accepted.)


THREE winners will receive an Oculus Go Headset! 


  • You must be 13 years old or older by the deadline (Feb. 29, 2020) to enter. Submissions from students under 13 will not be accepted.
  • Your project can be in any format of your choice, including, but not limited to, infographic, commercial, animation, video, brochure, PowerPoint, persuasive paper, etc.
  • The project should explain WHY you think virtual reality should be used in school and HOW it could be used.
  • Any sources used should be cited to avoid plagiarism.
  • Projects should be submitted on an individual basis. No group projects will be accepted.
  • Do not include your last name on your presentation- just first name and state. You can put your personal information on the submission form, but for your privacy when we upload, we will need your presentation without personal identification.
  • Projects must be submitted on the following form: https://orausurvey.orau.org/n/StudentVR.aspx
  • Projects will be graded based on a rubric.
  • Winners will be announced late March.
  • You must be a student in a U.S., U.S. territory, or DoDEA School.
  • To create infographics, brochures, or other designs, check out Canva.com and picktochart.com!

How to Enter:

  • To enter the contest, complete the form at https://orausurvey.orau.org/n/StudentVR.aspx and attach your file. Make sure you include your parent or guardian’s contact information so we can get their permission to post your file on our website. The contest opens on Friday, February 1, 2020. The deadline to submit is 8:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 29, 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact: STEMEd@orau.org


Previous contests

  • sounds-of-stem-logo.pngWinners will be announced soon!


    How many times have you been riding in the car humming, singing, or even dancing along to your favorite tune? Music is a force that moves and connects us all, but how is music connected to STEM? The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wants you to answer this question. We are asking that you create a music video of a self-written song that addresses at least one concept in STEM. This can be a remix to your favorite song, or you can make your own beats to groove to. Looking for cool ways to make sure your music video is engaging? Try adding in props or animations, like poster boards with illustrations or follow-along lyrics. The creative avenues are endless! TWELVE prizes will be awarded, so don’t miss out on your chance to create the sounds of STEM and win an awesome prize along the way!

    Prizes for K – 2nd grade winners:

    • 3 winners will receive an iPad and Osmo

    Prizes for 3rd – 4th grade winners:

    • 3 winners will receive an iPad and 3D pen

    Prizes for 5th – 8th grade winners:

    • 3 winners will receive a M3D Micro+ Printer and laptop

    Prizes for 9th – 12th grade winners:

    • 3 winners will receive a 3D Printer Kit and laptop

    If you have any questions, please contact: STEMEd@orau.org

  • How many times have you come across a problem in your life that could be solved with the help of a robot? What about a problem in society? Do you think you can design a robot that can solve a real-world problem? Well, now is your chance! ORISE wanted to know how you would design a robot that could solve a problem that is important to you. 


    In the k-2 division:

    1. Scarlett T. from TN
    2. Shannon M. from TN
    3. Alice G. from TN

    In the elementary school division:

    1. Pradyumna L. from TN
    2. Baker L. from KY (Baker's gif)
    3. David O. from MD

    In the middle school division:

    1. Anna H. from TN
    2. Adithya S. from TN
    3. Tabitha O. from MD

    In the high school division:

    1. Joseph R. from FL
    2. Aidan M. from MD
    3. Elissa L. from IL
  • Review or No Review Student Challenge

    ORISE hosted a student challenge just for students in grades K-2! Have you ever wondered what animals do while the rest of the world is sleeping? We asked students to write a story and draw a picture telling us what you think bats do at night! 


    1st Place: Maya M., NJ

    2nd Place (tie): Natalie S., TN

    2nd Place (tie): Anandi L., MD

    If you have any questions, please contact: STEMEd@orau.org

  • Review or No Review Student Challenge

    How do you review for a test? With a game, of course! ORISE asked students to use their favorite coding software (such as Scratch, hopscotch, swift, or others) to create a review game to prepare for an end of the year test in any subject area. 


    3-5th grades:

    • Alexander A., MD
    • Rebecca V., MI

    6-8th grades:

    • Jensen C., IL
    • Clara S., TN
    • Tabitha O., MD

    9-12th grades:

    • Adam B., TN

     If you have any questions, please contact: STEMEd@orau.org

  • Did you know that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else? The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wants you to try it out! We are asking that you create a 1-2 minute original presentation that creatively explains or demonstrates a scientific concept of your choice to a student younger than you. SIX prizes will be awarded—two for the K-5th grade category, two for the 6-8th category, and two for the 9-12th grade category.

    Winners K-5th

    1st Place: Lydia D. from NC
    2nd Place: Bethany D. from NC

    Winners 6th-8th

    1st Place: Myley N. from TN
    2nd Place: Vineeta S. from TN

    Winners 9th-12th

    1st Place: Anna M. from KS
    2nd Place: Miranda D. from FL

  • i heart drones logo

    While drones can take really interesting photos and are fun to learn to maneuver through the air, did you know that drones have become very common in the workplace? Real Estate agents use them to take photos of property, Amazon is planning to deliver packages with drones, and the NFL uses them to capture video to analyze. So, how are drones being used in the STEM workforce? Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) asked students to create a 1-2 minute presentation that discusses at least 3 uses of drones in STEM field.  

    Winners 6th-8th Grade Winners:

    1st Place: Sophie L., TN
    2nd Place: Libby S., VA
    3rd Place: Kaylee M., TN

    Winners 9th-12th Grade Winners:

    1st Place: Nitin S., NY
    2nd Place: Kaylie G., TN
    3rd Place: Alyssa V., TN

  • 3d printer logoHow many times have you come across a problem in your life that could be solved with creating a solution that could be 3D printed? What about a problem in society? Do you think you can design a 3D model that can solve a real-world problem? In November of 2018, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wanted to know how students would design a 3D model that can solve a problem that is important to them

    Winners Grades 6-8:

    1st Place: Jensie C., Illinois, Locker Anti-Jam
    2nd Place: Samuel J., Colorado, Ventus
    3rd Place: Maclean S., Tennessee, Use it! Don’t Lose it!

    Winners Grades 9-12:

    1st Place: Kimberly S., Tennessee, Gas Nozzle Lock for School Chemistry Labs
    2nd Place: Alexandra S, Tennessee, Toe Positioner
    3rd Place: William C, Tennessee, Water Bottle Cup Holder

  • Contest is now closed. Winners will be announced soon!

    Rising Kindergarten through 6th grade students!

    Do you think you can design a machine? We want to know how you would design a machine that solves a problem important to you! Tell us your important problem and explain the engineering design process of creating your machine, and you could win a prize! TEN prizes will be awarded to students—five for the K-3rd grade category and five for the 4th–6th grade category.

    Prizes for the top five K–3rd grade winners:  Code-and-Go Mouse

    Prizes for the top five 4th-6th grade winners: Sphero

    Examples of existing machines:

    • Electric Motor
    • Scissors
    • Wheelbarrow
    • Lawn mower
    • Typewriter
  • Harvesting renewable energy is an emerging field with many potential future career opportunities. ORISE wants students to get a small introduction to this field by designing an instrument or device that harvests ambient energy and transforms it into usable energy! Use the engineering design process to guide your creation beginning with identifying a problem and ending with a novel instrument that harvests and transforms energy! 


    7th-9th grade winner:
    Jake from TN with The Solarnator

    10th-12 grade winner:
    Kaitlyn Daniels with Chargeable Charms!


  • STEAM logo

    Science has long inspired art. Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci studied human anatomy extensively before he painted the Mona Lisa?  Did you know that Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein was inspired and written during a dreary, cold summer in 1815, when one of the strongest volcanic eruptions – Mount Tambora -- spewed ejecta that blocked out the sun and cooled the atmosphere? Today, countless artists are motivated by innovative technology, limitless natural phenomena, and new scientific discoveries!

    April is National Poetry Month, and to honor STEAM’s (STEM + Art) long history, ORISE is sponsoring a  science-poetry competition for all current high school students, university students, and all ORISE participants, including post-associate’s, post-bachelor’s, post-master’s, and postdoctoral levels! 


    High School student

    1st Jeanette, 17  How I Feel About Space
    2nd  Ivy, 16 Two Voices of STEAM
    3rd Elissa, 9  The World of Genetics
    Honorable Mention Rocco, 16 Singing
    Honorable Mention Matthew, 16  The Fly on the Wall
    Honorable Mention Joanna, 18  The Conscious Mind

    University student

    1st Kaila Noland Vacationing as a Crab
    2nd  Ashley Humphrey Science is a Verb
    3rd Kathleen Gillespie Biome, Sweet Biome

    ORISE Participant

    1st Michaela Cashman The Ocean Blues
    2nd David Sapiro The Rusty Bells
    3rd Eric Popczun Chlorine's Ode
    Honorable Mention Hannah C. Gunderman The Black Dog
    Honorable Mention Kate Jones What Does an Earthworm Taste Like?
    Honorable Mention Brandon McAdams No One is Allowed to Enter but Her

    General Relativity


    A hundred years
    the theory has passed hard tests and still we find
    new applications. Mass,
    energy, and curved spacetime
    collectively validate
    gravitational radiation, black holes, and cos-
    mology; neutrinos and photons,
    spewing from a supernova
    in the Large Magellanic Cloud, arrive
    here at Earth, our little home,
    within hours of each other, showing
    they move at different rates, in line
    with differences in mass, and light

    and neutrinos take the curved path
    of space-time, making
    the speed of light seem slow
    as it flows
    curvaceously across the galaxy from stars
    differing in age. My head

    spins now under the whirl of planets and
    neutron stars; my pulse
    picks up. What a delight

    to know these things have worked
    like this
    for hundreds of thousands of years:
    we stared

    back then up at night from
    sparking fire at cave-lip, astounded

    by pinprick bits of starry light that fell.

    • Parsons imageLinda Parsons

      Linda Parsons is a poet, playwright and an editor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She is the reviews editor at Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, former poetry editor of Now & Then magazine, and has contributed to The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Shenandoah, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column, American Life in Poetry, among other journals and anthologies. Her fourth poetry collection is This Shaky Earth, and her newest endeavor is writing for The Hammer Ensemble, the social justice wing of Flying Anvil Theatre .

      Green imageConnie Jordan Green

      Connie Jordan Green lives on a farm in Loudon County, Tenn., where, when she isn't gardening, she writes in a small attic study. She is the author of two award-winning novels for young people, The War at Home and Emmy; two poetry chapbooks, Slow Children Playing and Regret Comes to Tea; two poetry collections, Household Inventory, winner of the Brick Road Poetry Press 2013 Award, and most recently, Darwin’s Breath from Iris Press. Green is included in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia (University Press of Kentucky). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

      Gresham imageJennifer Gresham

      Jennifer Gresham spent 16 years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force before becoming a high-performance coach and business strategist. She is the former assistant chief scientist of the Human Performance Wing for the Air Force Research Laboratory, where she helped lead a research portfolio spanning the fields of biology, psychology and technology. She is the author of the poetry collection, Diary of a Cell, from Steel Toe Books, and the award-winning blog Everyday Bright. Her poems have been featured in numerous journals, magazines, and radio shows. She currently lives in Seattle, Wash., with her family and two cheeky cats.

      Stewart imageArthur Stewart

      Arthur Stewart is an ORISE science education program manager with more than 25 years of research experience in aquatic ecology and ecotoxicology. He also explores science creatively by writing, and has authored six books of science-inspired poetry, including Circle, Turtle, Ashes (2010), The Ghost in the Word (2013), and Elements of Chance (2017).  His poems have been published in both scientific venues and in over a dozen literary journals and magazines. In 2013, he was inducted into the East Tennessee Hall of Fame for poetry. 

  • Robot logo

    In February, ORISE asked students to follow the engineering design process to design a robot that solves a real-world problem. Congratulations to our grand-prize, runner-up, and judge’s choice winners!

    Grand prize winners

    Kayden from MD: RoboCare: Customized Healthcare at Your Service

    Adithya from TX: The HYDRObot


    Kyle from TN: The Easy Opener

    DeWayne from TN: Robotic Seeing Eye Dog

    Grace from TN: BinkyBot

    Christina from TN: Robots: Unsanitary Water in LDCs

    Ayush from TX: FRNDBot (not posted)

    Cody from TN: The MailBot

    Gregory from TN: Personal Health Care Robot

    Jalen from TN: I <3 Robots

    Hannah, Andrew, and Ethan from TN: Gas-Bot

    Judge’s choice

    Kashvi from KS: I <3 Robot: Dog & Drone

    Allie from TN: Reducing Unnecessary Shelter Deaths

  • In our November contest, students were encouraged to get creative for a chance to win a Flip Flop stunt drone! Participants in the contest entered by describing a science topic and used technology to present their ideas.

    Congratulations to our grand-prize and runner-up winners!

    John from Tennessee: Drone Laws

    Daniel from Maryland: Airfoil Technology

    Evelyn from Maryland: Drones and GPS

    Gabe from Tennessee: Drone Project

    Kayden from Maryland: Vessel Watch

    Jacob from Kansas: How Drones Move

    Omar from Tennessee: Aerodynamics of a Flying Drone

    William from Kansas: Gyroscopes in Drones

    Calvin from Tennessee: Parts of a Drone and How it Works