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Congratulations to our 2016 winners! See below to check our last year's videos and to learn more about this year's competition.

2016 Elementary Winner

Samarth, Marietta Center for Advanced Academics, Marietta City Schools

2016 Middle School Winner

Kaelyn, Flat Rock Middle School, Fayette County Schools

2016 High School Winner

Alisa, Walton High School, Cobb County Schools


2015 Overall Winner: Rachel, 2nd Grade, Brookwood School

2015 Elementary Winner

Lucy, 5th Grade, Barrow Elementary

2015 Middle School Winner

Kai, 8th Grade, Amana Academy

2015 High School Winner

Ishan, 9th Grade, Wheeler High School

Competition Details

Students, how is STEM shaping your future? Tell us and win a chance to speak at the 2016 STEM Forum.

We're thrilled that you're interested in doing a STEMtalk! We can't wait do hear your thoughts on how STEM is shaping your future. And, our winners will share their inspiration with the 1,500 teachers who will attend this year's STEM Forum October 24-25, in Athens. Ready to get started?

GSTA has modeled our STEMtalk concept on the work of TED and TEDx. Building on the work of experts at TED, here are a few suggestions on how to give a great talk. These aren't comprehensive, but they will give you some guidance as you develop your STEMtalk. Submissions were due Friday, September 16, 2016.  Winners will be announced soon!

STEP 1: Get Familiar with the STEMtalk format

STEP 2: Work with your teacher and parent/guardian to complete the required paperwork

STEP 3: Develop your idea

STEP 4: Make an outline and script

STEP 5: Rehearse

STEP 6: Video your talk

STEP 7: Submit your video and application


STEP 1: Get Familiar with the STEMtalk format

What is STEMtalk?

STEMtalks are a showcase for Georgia students in grades K-12 to share well-formed ideas about the world in 5 minutes or less. You can watch a TEDx talk to better understand the format. Here's a link to a TEDx talk that will help you understand the format: How to defend the Earth from asteroids.

You can also view the top ten entries in Cobb County School District's KiDtalk competition to get ideas for the format and delivery of your STEMtalk.  Just remember that Cobb's competition was not limited to STEM topics.

Can I go over 5 minutes?

No--then it wouldn't be a STEMtalk. The time limit is part of what makes it work. When you have a limited amount of time to make your point, you tend to be more focused. It may only take three minutes to make your point in an unforgettable way.

STEP 2: Work with your teacher and parent/guardian to complete the required paperwork

We need to make sure your video follows some important guidelines, and we don't want you posting videos on the internet without permission from your parent or guardian. To be sure these things happen, we require you to work with your teacher and parent/guardian to complete some paperwork.  Any video submitted without a Video Competition Submission Form or Consent/Release Form and Waiver for Entrant in Video Competition will not be considered. You can find these forms, along with complete rules for the competition, in this video submission rules and forms document.

STEP 3: Develop your idea

What makes a good idea for a talk?

Like a good magazine article, your idea can be new or surprising, or challenge a belief your audience already has. Or it can be a great basic idea with a compelling new argument behind it. We want to learn about your STEM experience in school. How has the opportunity to experience a STEM education impacted you? What are you planning to do now, because of your experience in a STEM school or program? In short, how is STEM shaping your future?

An idea isn't just a story or a list of facts. A good idea takes evidence or observations and draws a larger conclusion.

STEP 4: Make an outline and script

What is the best structure for a STEMtalk?

There are a variety of methods that have been found to be effective when giving a talk. There isn't a single right way, but here are some components that have been found to be effective.

  1. Start by making your audience care, using a relatable example or an intriguing idea or experience.

  2. Explain your experience clearly and with conviction.

  3. Describe your evidence and how and why it relates to STEM.

  4. End by addressing how your idea could affect your audience if they were to accept it.

No matter the structure you decide on , remember that your primary goal is to communicate your ideas effectively. Telling stories and stirring emotions are great tools to help communicate, but these aren't the goal of the STEMtalk.

The TEDx Speaker's Guide provides the following suggestions to speakers.


A strong introduction is crucial.

  • Draw in your audience members with something they care about.

    • If it's a topic the general TED audience thinks about a lot, start with a clear statement of what the idea is.

    • If it's a field they never think about, start off by invoking something they do think about a lot and relate that concept to your idea.

    • If the idea is something fun, but not something the audience would ever think about, open with a surprising and cool fact or declaration of relevance (not a statistic!).

    • If it's a heavy topic, find an understated and frank way to get off the ground; don't force people to feel emotional.

  • Get your idea out as quickly as possible.

  • Don't focus too much on yourself.

  • Don't open with a string of stats


In presenting your topic and evidence:

  • Make a list of all the evidence you want to use: Think about items that your audience already knows about and the things you’ll need to convince them of.

    • Order all of the items in your list based on what a person needs to know before they can understand the next point, and from least to most exciting. Now cut out everything you possibly can without losing the integrity of your argument. You will most likely need to cut things that you think are important.

      • Consider making this list with a trusted friend, someone who isn’t an expert in your field.

  • Spend more time on new information: If your audience needs to be reminded of old or common information, be brief.

  • Use empirical evidence, and limit anecdotal evidence.

  • Don’t use too much jargon, or explain new terminology.

  • (Respectfully) address any controversies in your claims, including legitimate counterarguments, reasons you might be wrong, or doubts your audience might have about your idea.

  • Don’t let citations interrupt the flow of your explanation: Save them for after you’ve made your point, or place them in the fine print of your slides.

  • Visuals - Note anything in your outline that is best expressed visually and plan accordingly in your script.

    • Visuals can be helpful for the audience, but they are by no means necessary or relevant to every talk. 

    • Consider the following regarding the use of visuals:

      • Simple slides with images

      • Clear charts or graphs that represent a single point

      • Images or photos to help audience remember a person, place or thing you mention

      • Slides should support only one point

      • Minimal text

      • Avoid bullet points – consider putting each point on a separate slide

      • Use clear easy to read fonts such as Helvetica, Verdana, Century Gothic, or Times New Roman)


  • Find a landing point in your conclusion that will leave your audience feeling positive toward you and your idea's chances for success. Don’t use your conclusion to simply summarize what you’ve already said; tell your audience how your idea might affect their lives if it’s implemented.

  • Avoid ending with a pitch (such as soliciting funds, showing a book cover, using corporate logos).

  • If appropriate, give your audience a call to action.


Once you've settled on your outline, start writing a script. Be concise, but write in a way that feels natural to you. Use present tense and strong, interesting verbs.

STEP 5: Rehearse

I’ve read through my talk once, is that enough?

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!  We can’t stress this enough.  Rehearse until you’re completely comfortable in front of other people: different groups of people, people you love, people you fear, small groups, large groups, peers, people who aren’t experts in your topic. 

Listen, listen, listen to the criticisms and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.  If someone says that you sound “over-rehearsed,” this actually means you sound unnatural.  Keep rehearsing and focus on talking like you’re speaking to just one person in a spontaneous one-way conversation. 


Time yourself.  Practice with the clock winding down in front of you.  Do it until you get the timing right every time.  Your talk should be 10 minutes or less.


Practice standing still, planted firmly in one spot on the stage.  Have a friend watch you and stop you from pacing back and forth or shifting your weight from leg to leg.

STEP 6: Video your talk

Inhale.  Exhale.  Do it like you practiced.  Unless you feel comfortable setting up and capturing the video shoot on your own, work with your school contact to set up a time and location to shoot the video.  Discuss the equipment available to use – like an iPad, video camera, or other device.   It works best if you have an audience.  So invite some friends to come and be the audience when you give the talk.

STEP 7: Submit your video and application

  1. Upload video to YouTube or similar video sharing website on a personal channel.

  2. Email the link to your video along with scanned copies of the completed Submission Form and signed Consent/Release Form – Waiver for Entrant in Video Contest to: The subject of your email should read STEMtalk: “numeric grade” “video title”.

  3. Video content will be reviewed and approved prior to acceptance.

STEMtalk guidelines adapted from

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