The middle school / high school contest is open to all students currently enrolled in grades 6-12 in any public or private school in the US; for grades K-5, please click here. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Time) on April 16, 2021. Contest entrants are asked use a creative medium of their choosing (video, visual art, written, or music) to represent one or more of the following categories:

  • a scientific concept in any field of science
  • a notable scientific experiment or achievement in any field of science
  • a current mystery or open question in science in any field of science

The entires must be the original creative work of one or more students (see official rules below). Please include an explanatory paragraph and make it clear which parts of your entry are science-based and which are creative interpretation. All entires must cite one or more scientific sources.

Have a question? We highly encourage all participants to use experts as sources. We’d be happy to be your experts or to put you in touch with some of our colleagues at CSU to be your experts. Please email cns_lsop@colostate.edu with your questions!

Entires may be from any field of science and prizes will be awarded both in the physical sciences and the life sciences. Students are encouraged to look at fields of science that interest them. Some possibilities include:

Physical Sciences

physics, chemistry, geology, earth science, oceanography, meteorology, astronomy, atmospheric science, materials science

Life Sciences

biology, zoology, botany, medicine, anatomy, ecology, neuroscience, paleontology, pathology, biotechnology, environmental sciences, genetics, health sciences

Judging and Prizes

Colorado State University students and staff will judge the contest entries. Prizes will be awarded in multiple categories for middle school and high in both the life sciences and physical sciences. Past prizes have included:

  • Best explanation or representation of a science concept, experiment, or achievement
  • Best explanation or representation of a mystery or open question in science
  • Most creative representation of something that cannot normally be seen or heard
  • Most creative use of everyday objects
  • Best representation of an issue of social importance
  • Best use of humor or comedy to explain a scientific concept
  • Best written composition
  • Best musical composition
  • Best visual art composition
  • Most creative use of science to make art

Originality will be weighed heavily in the judging process. Students whose entries closely mirror work already available online will be much less likely to win a prize than students whose work is highly creative and contributes uniquely to the broader set of artistic representations of science.

All winners will receive a certificate and typical prizes include:

  • a USB microscope
  • a multi tool
  • a color-change LSOP water bottle
  • a field microscope
  • LSOP stickers
  • color-change water bottle
  • stress brain
  • tie dye string bag
  • other awesome Little Shop of Physics prizes!

Official Rules

  1. Every entry must be the original work of one or more current student currently enrolled in grade 6-12 at a public or private school in the United States. People who are not current students may offer feedback and/or provide assistance, but all work deserving of a creator credit must be done by current students in grades 6-12.
  2. Students must have the permission of their parent/guardian to enter.
  3. One prize will be awarded per winning entry. If a team of students creates a winning entry, the whole team will receive one prize.
  4. Originality is important — prize decisions will be based in part on the originality of entries. Your entry should not closely mirror an existing work, though you may draw inspiration from existing works.
  5. Students must clearly cite any and all sources of information that are used.
  6. All entires must include a brief explanatory paragraph. Please indicate what is scientific fact and what is creative interpretation in this paragraph.
  7. Entries must not be offensive, explicit, or derogatory. The LSOP reserves the right to reject entries we deem offensive, explicit, or derogatory.
  8. Winners will be contacted by email. Winning entries will be made public on the LSOP website and social media. Winners’ names and schools will be announced, unless they opt out.
  9. Student(s) and parent(s)/guardian(s) give LSOP and its affiliates full rights to use their submission for fundraising, publicity, or other purposes to help achieve their goals. These uses may include (but are not limited to) printed and online publicity, social media, press releases, and funding applications.

Media of Entry

Video (short films in any style — live action, animated, etc.)

  • Film and submit a video up to 4 minutes in length.
  • Your work must have a title and be accompanied by an explanatory paragraph (200-word maximum, excluding author name(s) and the title).
    • The paragraph must be followed by a section listing any and all sources of information you used (this list doesn’t count toward the word limit). No particular citation format is required; just make sure we can find the source you used.

Visual art (drawing, painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, sewing/embroidery, etc.) 

  • Your work must have a title and be accompanied by an explanatory paragraph (200-word maximum, excluding author name(s) and the title).
    • The paragraph must be followed by a section listing any and all sources of information you used (this list doesn’t count toward the word limit). No particular citation format is required; just make sure we can find the source you used.
  • Submit up to 6 images of your work.
    • You may submit a collection of work as a single entry, but the 6-image total per-entry limit still applies (and only one title and paragraph should be submitted per entry).

Music (compositions of any genre — pop, rap, country, etc.)

  • Compose a musical work and submit an audio recording up to 5 minutes in length of the composition being performed by the entrant(s).
  • Your lyrics must be an original composition by the entrant(s), though they may be set to the tune of an existing public domain work if this work is properly credited.
  • Your work must have a title and be accompanied by an explanatory paragraph (limit 200-word maximum, excluding author name(s) and the title).
    • The paragraph must be followed by a section listing any and all sources of information you used (this list doesn’t count toward the word limit). No particular citation format is required; just make sure we can find the source you used.

Written work (short story, poem of any style, script for a mini-play, etc.)

  • The total word limit for all types of written work is 1500 words, excluding title, author names, and references.
    • You may submit a collection of work as a single entry, but 1500-word total per-entry limit still applies.
    • If you are submitting a script, names indicating the character speaking a line are excluded from the total, but stage directions are included.
  • All work must include a section listing any and all sources of information you used (this list doesn’t count toward the word limit). No particular citation format required; just make sure we can find the source you used.
  • Feel free to be creative with formatting, but use easily legible fonts or hand-lettering techniques (typewriter-style font good; medieval script font bad) and text colors (dark green good; light yellow bad).
  • Your work must have a title and be accompanied by an explanatory paragraph (limit 200-word maximum, excluding author name(s) and the title).

Entry Form

  • Name of student or primary student if this is a group entry
  • Email contact of primary student or parent/guardian
  • If this is a group entry
  • Name of school(s) where entrant(s) are currently enrolled
  • Current grade level(s) of entrant(s)
  • Name of your current science teacher or other relevant teacher
  • Email address of your science teacher or other relevant teacher
  • Entrant(s) may submit work as a file of less than 40MB. If you have questions about the acceptable format, please contact cns_lsop@colostate.edu.
  • Entrants may post their work online (Flickr, YouTube, Google, etc.) and link to it here. Please make sure the file is available for us to access and not restricted. If you share with Google Drive, make sure to change the permissions to "anyone with the link can view".
  • Written work and/or explanatory paragraph
  • Please include detailed references for your scientific facts.
  • The Little Shop of Physics will share entries on our website and social media. Do we have permission to share name(s) and school(s) as well?
  • Parent(s)/guardian(s) please type your name as an electronic signature that certify the entrant(s) have your permission to submit this entry and that Little Shop of Physics is allowed to use it on our website and social media.