New York Center for Astrobiology – 2012 Astrobiology Short Story Contest

Greetings (younger) fellow astrophiles!

I am pleased to announce that the New York Center for Astrobiology is sponsoring a writing contest for 9th – 12th graders. A brief overview of the contest is below, with the complete list of rules, story proposals, and lots of extraterrestrial parameters included in the linked PDF you can find at:

NOTE: I urge you to have wikipedia open as you read the two plots. Some good explanations and a whole lot of potential inspiration lies within!

This contest is sponsored by the New York Center for Astrobiology, a member of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute program, headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. The New York Center for Astrobiology at RPI also involves scientists at the University at Albany (SUNY), Syracuse University, and the University at Arizona. The multi-disciplinary team of scientists from these four institutions is working to better understand the origin and distribution of life on Earth and on other planets in the Galaxy. For more information about the New York Center for Astrobiology, please visit its website at


> An award ceremony will occur in early May 2012 for students, teachers, and parents with scientists and high school teachers associated with the New York Center for Astrobiology

> $200 for each of the best stories (up to 4 to be selected)

> An interview with the winning authors on WAMC Northeast Public Radio in Albany, NY

About the Contest

> Open to all students in grades 9-12 from Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. Eligible students within that grade-range can be from public schools, private schools, and home schools.

> One entry per student. Entries must be authored by one individual only.

> Entries must have a minimum of 500 words to a maximum of 1600 words. The format must be double-spaced; 12-point font; 1-inch margins. Graphs, images, tables, and citations are optional, and would not count toward the length-limit.

> If sent by mail, entries must be post-marked no later than Friday, March 2, 2012. If sent electronically (pdf and doc files), the entry must be received no later than 5:00 PM EST on Friday, March 2, 2012. Results of the contest will be announced by mid-April 2012.

> Entries will be assessed by a team of (i) high school teachers with expertise in the sciences, literature, and the arts, and (ii) scientists associated with the New York Center for Astrobiology.

The short stories can range from being highly scientific to being fictional. The intent is to select up to two entries per Story Option, in which one may be highly scientific and the other may be highly fictional. In both instances, each would have been judged to be of outstanding quality. The contest-organizers fully recognize that the assessment criteria (described on page 3) will yield disparate scores for these two styles of short story. That range of scores will be calibrated by the team of reviewers.

To Enter

Mail a printout of your entry with the cover sheet to the following address: Prof. John W. Delano; Associate Director, New York Center for Astrobiology; Dept. of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences; 1400 Washington Avenue; University at Albany; Albany, NY 12222 Alternatively, you can submit your entry as an e-mail attachment (.doc or .pdf) to Prof. John Delano at the following address: [email protected]


For questions about this contest, please contact Professor John Delano by either telephone (518-442-4479) or e-mail ([email protected]).