Writing and Illustration Contest

The Duke TIP Writing and Illustration Contest has two parts—you may enter just one or both!

Part 1: Creative writing contest is now closed.

We received over one thousand entries this year, and the first-place stories are available at the Writing Contest Winners page.

Writing prompt: The Swalampary Incident

Students were asked to write a story that explained the incident that led to the creation of a sign with the following text: “Notice! Due to the unfortunate kerfuffle on February 29th, toothpaste, playing cards, and swalampary are no longer allowed in this building. Thank you for your cooperation.” Who was involved, what happened, where did it happen, and what in the world is swalampary? Students were able to decide what swalampary was (truly, it’s a nonsense word).

Part 2: Illustration Contest is now closed.

March 12–April 17, 2018

Duke TIP 4th–6th Grade Talent Search participants were invited to create and submit an original two-dimensional artwork that effectively illustrated a scene and emotions expressed in the first-place story from the student’s same grade level. For example, if you are a fourth grader, your illustration should depict a scene or event from the fourth-grade first-place story. The first-place stories are available at the Writing Contest Winners page. Be sure to read the story before you start your artwork!

Awards and prizes

Three winners will be announced from each grade for each part of the contest, and all winners and their enrolling schools receive cash prizes as follows:

  • $200 to first place winners from each grade and their enrolling schools
  • $100 to second place winners from each grade and their enrolling schools
  • $50 to third place winners from each grade and their enrolling schools

Winners from both parts of the contest will be highlighted in Navigator, the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search's online magazine, and first-place entries will be posted to our website. Writing Contest winners will be posted in the spring, and Illustration Contest winners in the early summer.

To be eligible to receive a cash prize, the student must be a US citizen or a US permanent resident with a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card), also known as a green card.

Additional contest details

The Duke TIP Writing and Illustration Contest is a benefit of participation in the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search and is open to current participants only. Students can only submit one entry for each part of the contest each academic year. Due to the large number of entries received, Duke TIP is unable to provide feedback or return individual submissions. However, we will provide a confirmation of receipt by email.

Students qualify for the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search by achieving a score in the 95th percentile or higher on a qualifying exam. Once enrolled, for a onetime fee, they receive access to benefits until the end of sixth grade, including optional above-level testing; enrichment activities like the book club, writing and illustration contest, and specialized publications; and eligibility to apply to TIP’s educational programs.