Flame Challenge Rules

The aim of this contest is to encourage scientists to communicate complex material simply, clearly and engagingly. Entries will be screened for accuracy by scientists and then judged by 11-year-olds.

For answers to frequently asked questions – and some helpful hints — see FAQ for Scientists.

The rules are simple:

1. Answer the question in a way an 11-year-old will find instructive, interesting, and maybe even fun.

2. Submit your answer by 11:59 pm (New York Times) on Feb. 13, 2015.

3. The contest is open only to scientists. For this contest, we define a scientist as someone who has, or is in the process of getting, a graduate degree in a science (including health sciences, engineering and mathematics), or who is employed doing scientific work, or who is retired from doing scientific work.

4. Entries can be submitted in writing, as videos, or as graphics. The contest has two categories– Written and Visual – and entries will be judged within their category. We plan to name a winner in each category. For entries that cross the lines, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science will assign them to a category.

5. Written entries must be less than 300 words, and videos must be shorter than 5 minutes.

6. Answers must be in English.

7. Entries must be the original work of the person or persons submitting them.

8. Team entries are allowed, but teams can include no more than four scientists.

9. The winners will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to New York City to be honored at the World Science Festival. (If a team entry wins, only one cash prize and one trip will be awarded for the entry.)

10. By submitting an entry, you affirm that you are the sole creator of the entry, that it is original, and that it does not infringe upon any rights of others. You also grant the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science in the Stony Brook University School of Journalism (SOJ) the right to use your entry in any manner that the SOJ deems appropriate. If your entry is chosen as a finalist, semi-finalist or winner, you agree that the SOJ may publish your name and photograph in connection with the contest. Submission of an entry indicates acceptance of all contest rules.