The best competitions are the ones that give you free reign for creativity to flow with low risk. The old adage of beautiful things being created only under high stress and pressure is definitely not true; students are not lumps of coal being pressed into diamonds. Instead, the moment that we find a challenge that sparks off our creative frenzy is the moment that we dream of. Suddenly, ideas of procrastination are cast away and the world is our oyster.
The topic that I’ve been working on is NASA’s “Cassini Scientist For a Day” competition, a short 500 word essay on some aspect of the Cassini mission that you believe should be more expanded. Even though I consider myself to be an astronomy enthusiast, I honestly do not know enough hard facts about such specific topics. All I know what to do is look upwards and feel small, and sometimes I just need some incentive to look in a bit deeper. 3 hours later, I think I have at least some precursory knowledge of Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes, of the Cassini-Huygens mission, and of the reason of Saturn’s Polar Hexagon.
The writing itself seemed a bit secondary to me as compared to just learning and diving deep into the information. Even though I sometimes wish that all of education could be like this free flow of info, I do recognize the benefits that putting ideas into concrete, logical order provides for me as a student. So search for some low-risk, high-educational benefit contests out there and learn something new this week!