Contests for kids

Every picture tells a story -- including this painting by Julie Buffalohead (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma), which is part of a Heard Museum contest for 4th-8th grade students

I had some fun with my 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth the other day after we checked out a picture posted on the Heard Museum’s website, then tried to craft a story using the various elements in the picture — which include a twisted balloon dog, a tiny house, a young girl donning a crown, a caged bird and several other items.

Weaving all these pieces together was much harder than I expected. I’m guessing that the 4th through 8th graders for whom the Heard’s “Tell Me a Story” contest was designed will have an easier time of it, though some might be truly startled to see a collection of people and objects devoid of superstars or cell phones.

The Heard Museum invites 4th-8th graders to write their best story about what is happening in a painting by Julie Buffalohead (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma) — which can be found on the Heard Museum website by clicking here.

The winning story (and those of several runner-ups) will be posted on the Heard Museum website, and the winner will receive a gift from the Heard Museum Gift Shop.

Stories, which must be under 1,000 words, are due no later than midnight on May 1, 2011. It’s a one entry per person contest, and each entry must include the writer’s name, school, grade and city/state.

Entries must be submitted to: TellUsAStory@Heard.org. Submissions will be judged by Julie Buffalohead (Ponca artist), Janet Cantley (Heard Museum Curator), Gina Laczko (Director of Education), Susan McMichael (Author and Guild volunteer) and Noelle Bowman (Newspaper reporter).

Students eager to enter the “Dear Aliens” contest sponsored by the “ASU Origins Project” will have to hustle a whole lot faster to meet their deadline. Submissions to the “Dear Aliens” contest are due April 1, 2011 – and are being accepted via good old-fashioned snail mail.

The contest ponders what we might say if aliens somehow tuned into Earth and said “Hello.” “We’re asking you,” say contest organizers, “to write in and tell us: If you had to speak for humanity, what would you say?

K-12 students in Maricopa County are eligible to submit entries (though maximum word counts vary by age) — and must follow several guidelines you can read by clicking here.

Entries should be mailed to: Dear Aliens, ASU Origins Project, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 871902, Tempe, AZ 85287-1902. Alas — no extra points will be awarded for using outer space-related stamps or including Halloween photos depicting babies or pets in alien theme costumes.

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of alien experts including writers, scientists and scholars. “Winning entries,” I’m told, “will be bounced off the moon.” Winners will be announced early in April and at a special (and free) ceremony on April 9 at the ASU campus in Tempe. The aliens, I suspect, will need to participate via Skype.

– Lynn

Note: Please consult contest sponsors for all contest details, including eligibility, guidelines, deadlines and such.

Coming up: More contests for kids — from the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and The Phoenix Symphony

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