Step up to the #STEMchallenge: Show Us Your Best STEM Lessons

Create a STEM Lesson Plan aligned with NGSS for a chance to win a $2,000 Amazon gift card!

September 22, 2015
Tanner Higgin Director, Education Editorial Strategy
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Common Sense News

Editor's Note: This contest refers to Graphite, the former name of this website.

We’re excited to announce our first #STEMchallenge, a call to innovative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educators everywhere to create and share their most inspiring and tech-rich STEM lessons.

Thanks to the Carnegie Foundation, the educator with the best lesson will win both fame and fortune: a whopping $2,000 grand prize and promotion on the Graphite blog, Twitter, and newsletter. The second prize winner will receive a year-long Gold membership from Nearpod plus 10 STEM lessons on Nearpod.

Interested? Read on for more detail! Jump to:

Contest dates

  • Begins Sept. 22, 2015 at 11 a.m. PST and ends Oct. 19, 2015 at midnight PST
  • Winner will be announced on Oct. 26, 2015 on the Graphite blog

Take the challenge! What you need to do


(1) First things first: SIGN-IN or SIGN-UP for a free account on Graphite



(2) Take your favorite tech-rich STEM lesson, or create a new one, and put it in our Lesson Plan template. 

Be sure to:

  • Include "#STEMchallenge" somewhere in the summary
  • Include at least one tech tool that’s on Graphite
  • Align the lesson to at least one NGSS standard and tag it to the standard(s) using the Lesson Flow tool


Don’t know what a Graphite Lesson Plan is? Watch this video:



(3) Optional: Tweet "I've entered my chance to win the @Graphite #STEMchallenge contest" with a link to your Lesson Plan.

There’s no limit on how many Lesson Plans you can enter, but only one grand prize will be awarded. Existing Lesson Plans will be accepted, but they must meet the requirements (e.g., you’ll need to go back into the Lesson Plan and align to NGSS standards). It’s recommended, but not required, that you create a new Lesson Plan specific to this challenge.


What we’re looking for (aka contest criteria):

  • Every Lesson Plan will be evaluated by our panel of expert judges who will be looking for high-quality, creative, and innovative lessons that showcase edtech and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This means lessons that get students doing science, engineering, and design -- letting inquiry drive deep conceptual learning experiences, making and interpreting models, and experimenting. STEAM approaches integrating art are encouraged!

Need some inspiration? Helpful resources and tips

What’s the prize?

  • Grand prize: $2,000 Amazon gift card
  • Second prize: Year-long Gold membership from Nearpod plus 10 STEM lessons

Who’s judging the Lesson Plans?

Graphite Certified Educator Mentors

  • Stephanie Elder, National Board Certified Teacher and Science & Technology Instructional Specialist at Flint Community Schools
  • Barbara Huth, National Board Certified Science Teacher at Mooresville High School
  • Denis Kogan, Science Coach for District 75 (NYCDOE) and 2014 Math for America Master Science Teacher
  • Darlene Painter, Digital Learning Coach and Robotics and ASB Advisor at Vista Innovation & Design Academy

Graphite Expert Reviewer

  • Emily Pohlonski, National Board Certified Science Teacher at Novi Community Schools and 2015 Michigan Educator Voice Fellow

Know the rules

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited.

Promotion open to any individuals of legal age of majority (where they reside) at the time of entry, excluding employees of app/game/website developers referenced in the Lesson Plan submitted.

You may enter by (1) Creating an account on Common Sense Graphite, (2) Writing an original Lesson Plan with a STEM focus, including #STEMchallenge in the summary, and (3) (optional) tweet “I've entered my chance to win the @Graphite #STEMchallenge contest" with a link to your Lesson Plan.

Entries may be submitted from 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on September 22, 2015 until 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on October 19, 2015.

There is one (1) grand prize available to be won (the “Prize”), which is a one (1) Two Thousand Dollar (USD $2,000) electronic gift card to The total approximate retail value of the Prize is USD $2,000. Please note that the gift card awarded will be in United States Dollars, regardless of where the winner resides. The Lesson Plans will be judged by both employees of Common Sense Graphite and other independent judge(s) on the basis of quality, creativity, and pedagogy as well as adherence to the challenge requirements.

This Promotion is a skill-based contest and chance plays no part in the determination of the winners.

The Promotion is sponsored by Common Sense Graphite. (the “Sponsor”), located at 650 Townsend Street, Suite 435, San Francisco, CA 94103.


Denis Kogan
District 75 Special Education Science Instructional Coach
NYC Department Of Education
New York, NY

Good luck to everyone thinking about submitting a Lesson Flow (or a few). There are a few essential components to any type of lesson and one of these is student activities. Remember, don't have your students engaged in activities just to keep them busy. Whatever you have your students do should contribute in a direct way to their accomplishing the lesson objective. By selecting activities that are engaging and interactive, a Lesson Flow truly starts to become meaningful.

Cathie Gillner
Classroom teacher
Dorseyville Middle School
Pittsburgh, PA
  • Include "#STEMchallenge" somewhere in the summary


Just a clarification question.  When you say summary... Where specifically do you mean?  Is it the part under the title?


Thanks- Cathie

Tanner Higgin
Common Sense Education

Hi Rachel,When you create your Lesson Flow, you'll be prompted to add steps to the lesson. Each step has an associated "Graphite Resource" or "Non-tech Activity." If you click on "Graphite Resource" it'll prompt you to search for one of these resources. If the resource/tool is on Graphite, it'll show up there and you can add it to the lesson. You can also check if the tool is on Graphite by doing a search using the search tool at the top of the page. We have over 2,000 reviews, so there's a good chance we have what you're looking for!