$$$ Promote Science! Win Big Money! $$$

Seed and Honeywell are sponsoring a great opportunity for aspiring science writers: the Seed 2007 Science Writing Contest. All you have to do is write a 1200 word essay that answers these questions:

What does it mean to be scientifically literate in the 21st century?

How do we measure the scientific literacy of a society? How do we boost it? What is the value of this literacy? Who is responsible for fostering it?

A mere 1200 words? ‘Tis nothing. That’s the length of my usual column in Seed magazine. You can crank that out in an evening’s work, send it in, and get a shot at winning $2500 (first prize!) or $1000 (second prize!) or the eternal love and affection of scientists everywhere (third, fourth, fifth, etc., prize, and by far the most valuable!).

Best news of all: I’m not eligible! I’m sure otherwise I’d just clean up in the contest, and none of you would stand a chance…but since I’m out, I’ll double-dog-dare you all to show all of us sciencebloggers what real science writing is like. You’ve got until 1 July to teach us all the meaning of real scientific literacy, so get cracking.

The latest word from the Home Office on why this contest is restricted to only Americans: it has to do with the legal regulation and taxation of winnings. It’s not because they dislike you weird non-Americans — a surprising number of the people behind Seed are actually Canadian. Really. Hard to believe, I know, without a Tim Horton’s in sight anywhere in New York.

Anyway, blame the IRS, not Seed.


  1. potentilla says

    Contest is open to legal residents of the United States (excluding residents of Puerto Rico and U.S. territories and possessions), 18 years of age or older.

    Quite a lot of other people aren’t eligible, either.

  2. Interrobang says

    Being Canadian, sadly I’m ineligible.

    Aw, damn, that was going to be my next question. You know, it’s halfway not polite to advertise locals-only things on international media…

    If I were entering such a contest, since I’m somewhat conversant on historical and current definitions of literacy, I think I’d talk about it that way.

  3. says

    Hmm, well I’m a Canadian citizen, but an American resident, so I think that would work. However, my summer job is with Honeywell, so I think that sadly rules me out as well.

  4. Pareto says

    Damnable, I’m doubly knocked out, being a Canadian and 17 (until July 4th, so close…). And here I was, all set to write when I saw the first comment.


  5. says

    Can we organise our own 1200 word essay comp open to anyone, anywhere? Pretty please? I just got fired and I have a whole lot of free time…

  6. says

    Why are we Canadians ineligible? A creationist museum–the first permanent one in Canada–is opening in Big Valley, Alberta. Big Valley is just over 100 kilometres from Eckville, where in the 1980s James Keegstra taught his social studies students that the Holocaust was a fraud perpetrated by Jews to gain sympathy.

    If there is anywhere in Canada that needs a good dose of scientific literacy, it is here.

    Also, I could use the 2500 clams.

  7. says

    I have done enough essay writing this year. University is finished just now. Gimme a break. I will enjoy reading some of these thought. Hopefully a top 10 or 20 will be made available.

  8. GDwarf says

    I’m sure that the USA and Canada have different laws governing contests like these, since pretty much none of them are open to Canadian residents.

  9. M. J. Dailey says

    Random comment related to your post re Robert Bakker in 2004:

    Methinks the man does have a point re dinosaurs and space. I teach Earth/Space Science in Virginia. If I can relate the material to dinosaurs or space, I have a much better chance of keeping the high school freshmen on task.

    Perhaps Bakker has forsaken publishing “real science” in favor of being an evangelist for “real education”.

  10. says

    Americans only. Well that’s a good indication of where SEED is coming from. So much for the idea that they’re aimed at an international audience.

    Oh well. It’s a good thing I’m not eligible or I would have walked of with both first and second prizes.

    Anyway, the rest of you should just give up right now. With PZ out of the picture that leaves the field wide open to the professional framer, Matt Nisbet. He’s the expect on science writing and if he doesn’t win, the prize will go to that other famous science writer, Ed Brayton.

    I wonder who the judges are?

  11. says

    So much for the idea that they’re aimed at an international audience.

    From reading the magazine, I never got the impression that SEED was aimed at any audience other than residents of the USA aged 18 or older. So this restriction (which locks yet another Canuck, me, out) isn’t really a surprise.

    I’ll happily proof-read, edit, and critique any eligible essays for 1% of the prize money should that essay win either first or second prize. I’ll ghost-write an essay for 60%.

  12. says

    It’s a bit strange — I’ve met some of the upper echelon at Seed, and the place is a veritable hive of Canadians. Someone’s looking into the restriction right now, and we’ll find out what’s up. I wonder if it’s something imposed by Honeywell?

    They didn’t actually single me out — all of the sciencebloggers here are ineligible.

  13. HP says

    “Scientific Literacy: What It Is, How to Measure and Boost It, and Who Is Responsible.”

    By HP.

    In this article, I will define what it means to be scientifically literate. I will show how to measure the scientific literacy of a society, and examine how we can boost it. I will discuss the value of this literacy, and who is responsible for fostering it.

    Webster’s dictionary defines literacy as “the state or quality of being literate.” In order to measure the scientific literacy of a society, we must be able to define it. Measuring the scientific literacy of a society is important if we are to boost the scientific literacy of a society. In 19th-century Germany, “science” was called wissenschaft. Boosting scientific literacy is defined as increasing the amount of scientific literacy. We need to know how much scientific literacy we have now in order to know by how much we may have increased it in the future. In this way, we can measure how much scientific literacy has been boosted.

    Scientific literacy is very valuable to society, in terms of fostering a society in which people are scientifically literate.

    In conclusion, fostering valuable scientific literacy in a society is everyone’s responsibility.


    What do I win?

  14. says

    Hi, blf! Another ineligible from France

    I guess the problem of eligibility is more of a legal technicality than a deliberate discrimination. Still, peeving.

    > HP : every high school student should be made to read and dissect your comment until they understand precisely all the different ways in which it makes a teacher cringe.
    You should definitely blog :)

  15. says

    Hello all — Katherine Sharpe from Seed here. PZ already explained it in his addendum, but I wanted to add that, yes, the restriction of prize-winning to American entrants is a by-product of sweepstakes law in the United States. There’s nothing we can do about it. We’re sorry. It’s really not a reflection of how we feel about our Canadian, European, and other non-American readers, whom we love. Grr.

  16. Rey Fox says

    Woah woah woah, wait a minute, a living? I’m working for my daily bread! How can I get in on this?

  17. Richard, FCD says

    Alright … for you literate and talented foreigners, I’ll enter on your behalf :)

    I think of it as simply outsourcing production.

    I’ll even give you 10% of the prize, before taxes, payable from a Euro checking account. Can’t say fairer than that.

  18. says

    What, are we all science mercenaries? How about writing for the glory, or the good of all humankind. Why not let non-Americans enter but give the cash to his/her chosen charity when I, sorry, they win. Surely the sweepstakes rules only care about the money.

  19. says

    Back again. I just checked and confirmed that SEED actually started in my home town of Montreal, Canada, before moving to New York. It makes it all the more rude.

  20. oink says

    PZ: there’s several Tims in Hartford – perhaps the Canadian contingent at Seed drive there to get their fix?

  21. drerio says

    This begs the question:
    What does it mean to be scientifically literate in the 21st century?

    How about we try for English literacy? Begging the question does NOT mean “asking the obvious question” it means implicitly assuming what you are trying to prove.

  22. says

    Darn, Duck beat me to that observation! My parents still live in that area and there are FOUR Tim Horton’s within five miles of their house that I know about. They’ve probably added a few more since I started typing this. Also, two of the Western New York rest stops on the 90 (Scottsville and Pembroke eastbound, not sure about westbound) have Tim Horton’s.

    I wonder if this is because Tim Horton used to play for the Sabres?

  23. says

    Alas, the “no foreigners” restriction is typical and has applied to many contests I’ve wanted to enter over the years.

    What I wonder is whether or not I could have entered such things when I lived in the US for 2.5 years as a student.