Writing and Illustration Contest

The Duke TIP Writing and Illustration Contest invites all 4th–6th Grade Talent Search participants to submit a creative short story, an illustration, or both!

The writing component takes place first, and the illustrations are based on writing contest winners.

Part Open Date Close Date
Writing Contest 12/1/2018 1/18/2019
Illustration Contest 3/15/2019 4/15/2019

Part 1: Creative Writing Contest

The prompt for the 2019 contest will be posted on December 1, 2018.

We received over one thousand entries in 2018, and the first-place stories are available at the Writing Contest Winners page.

2018 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

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

First-, second-, and third-place winners are selected for each grade for both parts of the contest. All winners and their enrolling schools receive cash prizes:

  • $200 for first-place
  • $100 for second-place
  • $50 for third-place

All winners are highlighted in Navigator, the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search's online magazine, and first-place entries are posted to our website at the conclusion of each part of the contest.

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.