Essay Contest

Enter the 2021 Annual Essay Contest!

This year we have 3 topics for students to choose from! The contest is open to students from Grades 3 – 12 and the deadline for entries is April 30, 2021. Students must choose and write about about one of the following topics. Detailed rules and information about submission guidelines can be found below.

Good luck!

Topic A: Our Environment

Over the past year many people have stayed home due to the global pandemic, which has led to some noticeable positive environmental changes in places around the world. Working from home and attending school at home has meant big changes for many people, including in their routines. From fewer cars on the road to figuring out better ways to dispose of the increased household trash, working and attending school from home has meant big changes for many people, including in Germany. Has anything changed for you and your family? Can you think of something that you think should change permanently? What can you do to help protect the environment? Do you know of anything done in Germany that could be done in the USA or vice versa?

Topic B: Sophie Scholl

This year marks what would have been Sophie Scholl’s 100th birthday. She was a German student and member of the White Rose, a group committed to non-violent resistance of Nazi Germany. Members of the group, including Sophie, were executed for high treason after being caught distributing leaflets against the Nazis. Sophie is seen as a symbol of courage and freedom in the fight against Nazi Germany. Her short life and writings have been studied for academics and entertainment. What does Sophie Scholl and the White Rose mean for us 100 years after her birth? Are her beliefs still relevant in a world that is very different than when she was executed in 1943? What can we learn from her today?

Topic C: Berlin Wall

President John F. Kennedy called West Berlin “an island of freedom in a Communist sea” as he addressed the American people with a commitment to defend the German city. In August of 1961 that commitment was tested when the East German government began building a wall through the city center, separating East Berlin from West Berlin. It would be 28 years before people could once again freely cross those borders. Was President Kennedy correct in his assertation of West Berlin as an “island of freedom” that must be defended? What did the Berlin Wall mean for the citizens of East and West Berlin? What does the Berlin Wall symbolize for us today, when it has been gone for more years than it stood as symbol of the Cold War? Can we still learn anything from this part of history?

GENERAL GUIDELINES

Essays must be in English.

300 words or fewer for Grades 3-5; 500 words or fewer for Grades 6-12. (Note: more does not mean better! Focus on quality, not quantity.)

Students may only submit 1 entry per person.

Deadline for entry: April 30, 2021.

Email your essay to Jennifer Clardy Chalmers (jennifer.clardy-chalmers[at]opendiplo.de). Entry must include the author’s name, grade level, school name and school address at the beginning of the essay.

NATIONAL PRIZES

Amazon.com gift e-certificates will be awarded to the national 1st place winners in each age group.

1st Place – Grades 3-5: $100 gift certificate

1st Place – Grades 6-8: $150 gift certficate

1st Place – Grades 9-12: $200 gift certficate

For Teachers/ Advisors of 1st Place winners: $200 gift certificate

In addition, 10 Honorable Mentions will receive prize packages from the German Embassy Washington.

PRIZES FOR CLASSROOM CONTESTS

For teachers who wish to hold the contest within your classroom and award a prize, additional Amazon e-certificates in the amount of $25 will be issued to 1st Place classroom winners. Teachers must send the German Embassy Washington the winning essay and the number of students who participated. Should teachers wish to enter all of the classroom participants in the national contest, you may send all of the student entries in addition to the winning entry.

The complete rules and information, including how to submit entries, can be found below. The inbox is ready for your submission – good luck!

 

COMPLETE RULES AND INFORMATION

ABOUT THE CONTEST

The German Information Center USA fulfills the public diplomacy mission of the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. To encourage American students to get to know modern Germany, the German Information Center USA provides classroom materials to educators in the United States.

The purpose of the essay contest is to familiarize students with today’s Germany. In addition, the contest offers students and their teachers an opportunity to discuss traditional and modern German culture, language and society.

Detailed contest information such as rules, deadlines and the essay questions can be found below.

All entries must be submitted electronically by April 30, 2021.

There will be three grade groupings for the contest: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12. Winners will receive prizes and certificates; their essays will appear on this website (www.germanyinusa.com), as well as the German Embassy’s newsletters and associated social media channels.

GUIDELINES

Students must write about the following topics:

Topic A: Our Environment
Over the past year many people have stayed home due to the global pandemic, which has led to some noticeable positive environmental changes in places around the world. Working from home and attending school at home has meant big changes for many people, including in their routines. From fewer cars on the road to figuring out better ways to dispose of the increased household trash, working and attending school from home has meant big changes for many people, including in Germany. Has anything changed for you and your family? Can you think of something that you think should change permanently? What can you do to help protect the environment? Do you know of anything done in Germany that could be done in the USA or vice versa?
Topic B: Sophie Scholl
This year marks what would have been Sophie Scholl’s 100th birthday. She was a German student and member of the White Rose, a group committed to non-violent resistance of Nazi Germany. Members of the group, including Sophie, were executed for high treason after being caught distributing leaflets against the Nazis. Sophie is seen as a symbol of courage and freedom in the fight against Nazi Germany. Her short life and writings have been studied for academics and entertainment. What does Sophie Scholl and the White Rose mean for us 100 years after her birth? Are her beliefs still relevant in a world that is very different than when she was executed in 1943? What can we learn from her today?
Topic C: Berlin Wall
President John F. Kennedy called West Berlin “an island of freedom in a Communist sea” as he addressed the American people with a commitment to defend the German city. In August of 1961 that commitment was tested when the East German government began building a wall through the city center, separating East Berlin from West Berlin. It would be 28 years before people could once again freely cross those borders. Was President Kennedy correct in his assertation of West Berlin as an “island of freedom” that must be defended? What did the Berlin Wall mean for the citizens of East and West Berlin? What does the Berlin Wall symbolize for us today, when it has been gone for more years than it stood as symbol of the Cold War? Can we still learn anything from this part of history?

Essays must be in English.

300 words or fewer for Grades 3-5; 500 words for Grades 6-12. (Note: More does not mean better! Focus on quality, not quantity.)

Students may submit only one essay per person.

Submit entries as .doc (Microsoft Word), .pdf (Adobe Acrobat), .odt (OpenOffice), scanned-in graphic files (jpg, etc.) or .txt (Simple Text) files only.

Email your essay to Jennifer Clardy Chalmers (jennifer.clardy-chalmers[at]opendiplo.de). Entry must include the author’s name, grade level, school name and school address at the beginning of the essay.

Please note: due to the high number of entries, it is not possible to send out an email confirmation for every entry. Should you wish to inquire about whether or not your entry was received, send a separate email to the entry address.

RULES

All students enrolled in 3rd through 12th grade in the U.S.A. are eligible. Seniors graduating in 2021 are eligible. Students enrolled in DoDDS schools or schools in American overseas territories with APO mailing addresses are eligible. Homeschooled students are also eligible.

Each essay must be the sole work of the author.

Entries may be submitted by individual writers or by their teachers.

Entries must include the name of the student & teacher/advisor, the grade level of student, the email address of student & teacher, and a postal address for the student & teacher. This information enables the German Embassy to quickly award prizes and prize packages. No personal or contact information will be handed over to a third party.

Only electronically submitted essays will be accepted.

Entries must be 300 words or fewer for elementary students; 500 words or less for middle and high school students.

Submitted entries will become the property of the German Embassy Washington; they may appear online or in print in associated publications.

The decision of the panel of judges from German Embassy Washington is final.

Students are encouraged to review spelling, grammar and punctuation.

DEADLINE for entries is April 30, 2021. Winners will be notified by May 15, 2021.

CRITERIA FOR JUDGING

Winners will be determined by a panel of judges from the German Embassy Washington. Entries will be judged based on their content, style and grammar.

Successful entries will:

Follow the guidelines.

Show that student has done research on her/his subject.

Include the author’s own opinions.

Demonstrate superb critical and creative thinking.

PRIZES

Bookstore gift certificates in the form of Amazon.com gift e-certificates will be awarded to the national 1st place winners in each age group.

1st place – grades 3 – 5: $100 bookstore gift certificate

1st place – grades 6 – 8: $150 bookstore gift certificate

1st place – grades 9 – 12: $200 bookstore gift certificate

For Teachers or Advisors of 1st place winners:

$200 bookstore gift certificate for classroom resources

In addition, 10 runners-up will receive a package from the German Embassy Washington.

Should teachers wish to hold the contest within your classroom and award a prize, additional Amazon.com e-certificates in the amount of $25 will be issued for the 1st place students. You must send the Germany Embassy Washington the winning essay and the number of students who participated. Should you wish to enter all student entries into the national contest, you may send all student entries in addition to the winning entry to the German Embassy Washington.

Good luck!