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I AM STEM competition winner speaking at ENVISION 2020.

Student Speaking Contest

The I AM STEM speaking contest is designed to help Penn State Science students develop and share their stories so that they can inspire other burgeoning STEM minds! The winners of this year's competition will be keynote speakers at our Virtual ENVISION: STEM Career Day Supporting Young Women event in March 2021. 

Check out the Penn State Today story about the 2019 I AM STEM competition!

Contest Objectives:

  • To develop the science communication abilities of Penn State Science students
  • To identify and showcase Penn State Science students with inspiring, authentic STEM stories
  • To identify keynote speakers from the Penn State Science student community who can inspire and inform students and families who attend our ENVISION: STEM Career Day Supporting Young Women.  This year, ENVISION will be held virtually in March 2021 and keynote speeches will be presented by pre-recorded videos. 

To learn more about the competition - check out our I AM STEM program video here!

2020-2021 Competition Rules and Instructions: 


  • This competition is open to any undergraduate student, graduate student, or postdoc in the Eberly College of Science.
  • Note: Level of education (i.e., whether you're an undergrad or grad student) is not taken into account in any of the judging - so don't let any feelings of "I'm not experienced enough to give advice" stop you! Our winners are the students who most effectively craft their story in a way that inspires others...they aren't necessarily those who have accomplished the most already!
  • Prior 1st - 3rd place winners of the competition are not eligible to compete in future years. 

Prizes: 1st Place:$200 gift card; 2nd Place:$100 gift card; 3rd Place:$50 gift card. In addition to the gift card prizes, the 1st and 2nd place winners will also work with the Science Outreach staff and other science communication professionals to develop 10-to-15-minute keynote speeches that they will prepare for a virtual ENVISION event in March 2021.

Due Date: All entries are due Monday, January 11, 2021 by 5:00 p.m.


  • Entries will consist of two required parts:

    1. A written response (300-500 words) to the following prompt:

      • Writing Prompt: Being a science student is not easy and sometimes little moments of fascination and delight are what keep us moving when the going gets tough. Describe a moment when something you learned or experienced in a science context made an impact on you. What made that moment unforgettable and motivating? How does that science moment tie in with your larger science journey here at Penn State? What advice would you give to other aspiring science students based on this experience?
    2. A five-to-six-minute mini-keynote video that builds off of the topic in your written response:
      •  Imagine you are in front of a roomful of middle/high school students and parents who have never met you… Provide a presentation that gets across who you are and makes this audience want to hear more about you and your science journey!
  • Email both parts of your entry to Carol-Beth at by January 11, 2021 at 5:00 pm. Please email your written response as a PDF document. If your video entry is too large to be emailed, please upload your file into your a BOX or OneDrive folder and share it with Carol-Beth (
  • All entries will be evaluated by a panel of judges from the Eberly College of Science, based on the criteria below. Constructive feedback will be provided to all entrants to further their science communication skill development!
  • Evaluation criteria:
    1. 300-500 word Written Response (20 pts):

      • Meets Content and Length Requirements - 5 pts
      • Compelling, Inspirational, and Accessible Message - 5 pts
      • Clear, Logical Organization - 5 pts
      • Writing Ability - 5 pts
    2. 5-to-6-Minute Video (15 pts):*Please note that you are NOT being evaluated on your video production abilities! This is a way for us to gauge your abilities as a speaker, not as a videographer!*
      • Meets Content and Length Requirements - 5 pts
      • Speaking Presence (e.g., tone, pace of speaking, eye contact) - 5 pts
      • Ability to Engage and Inspire Audience - 5 pts
  • The top three winners will be announced within two weeks. 

Videos of Past Winners and Participants:

Our 2019 winners are listed below.

  • 1st Place: Latisha Franklin (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Doctoral Student)

  • 2nd Place: Yasha Duggal (Chemistry Doctoral Student)
  • 3rd Place: Albaine Hendrickson-Stives (Chemistry Doctoral Student)

We have also posted the final 2017 winner keynote talks as well as a few of the "mini keynotes" that our competitors gave during the 2018 competition on our YouTube channel: . Check them out!

Other Resources:

  • FAMELab is an international science communication competition that gives scientists and engineers 3 minutes to talk about a STEM topic in an engaging way. Check out some of the videos of the winning entries here!
  • Consider visiting the Undergraduate Speaking Center in Sparks Building to get feedback on your presentation. They are staffed with mentors who can help you with structuring and delivering your talk.

We look forward to receiving your entries!  Please reach out to Carol-Beth Book at with any questions!