The Illumina Essay Contest is held once during each instruction cycle. All students at Illumina Learning are eligible to enter this contest. Students who are not currently enrolled in a course at Illumina Learning may enter, but must be within grades 6-11.

Interested students will write a research paper on a topic in one of the fields listed below to be considered for the contest. These topics change during each instruction cycle.

The research paper should explain the student's chosen topic thoroughly. It may be about a technological development, a concept, a discovery, or a notable scientist within the field. Sources must be cited. The paper should not be an opinion essay.

The 2021 Late Spring cycle's eligible fields are [coming soon!]. There will be two judging divisions: Junior (grades 6-8) and Senior (grades 9-11).

Placements and prizes [coming soon!] include:

  • First Place: Awarded to one student in each division.

  • Second Place: Awarded to one student in each division.

  • Third Place: Awarded to one student in each division.

  • Commended: Students receive a digital certificate. All commended submissions will be published in Illuminate.

All submissions must be entered through the Google Form [coming soon] at the bottom of the page by the end of the instruction cycle to be considered. Please make sure that the following requirements are met before submitting:

  1. The paper is in PDF or DOCX form or is accessible through Google Docs.

  2. The paper is typed in size 12 Times New Roman font with standard 1-inch margins.

  3. The paper is about a topic in an eligible field (see above).

  4. The paper has all sources cited either parenthetically or in a bibliography at the end. For guidelines on APA citations, please visit:

  5. The paper is no more than 1000 words (not including the bibliography).

Illumina Learning has a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism. Papers that are plagiarized will be disqualified and students who plagiarize work will not be permitted to re-enter the Illumina Essay Contest. Papers that do not meet the submission guidelines listed above will not be considered for a prize. We will be lenient with citations and the bibliography.