February: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11th)

In February we celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or "STEM." Because of achievements in STEM, humankind has created the most amazing achievements from the seas to the sky and even to space. However, STEM has also led to devastating technologies, weapons of mass destruction, extinction of countless species and threatening the survival of our planet. At the same time, the majority of youth and adults throughout the world lack access to STEM education opportunities. This is especially true for women and girls in STEM.  According to the United Nations:


"At present, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. According to UNESCO data (2014 - 2016), only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrollment is particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent). Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science related fields. As in the real world, the world on screen reflects similar biases—the 2015 Gender Bias Without Borders study by the Geena Davis Institute showed that of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job, only 12 per cent were women. In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/212 declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science."

If STEM education opportunities were available for all and our students and professionals in STEM fields represented the diversity of the globe, we can truly use STEM to make the world a better place.

Topic: Select a problem in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics.  What is the problem? What is the significance of this problem? What are the harms of this problem? Is anything being done about the problem? What would be your solution to this problem?

Science  Examples: Global Warming, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Recycling, Plastics, Nuclear Weapons, Genetic Engineering, Education, Environment, Health, Medicine, Coronavirus, Waste, Water Pollution, Ocean Pollution, Space Pollution, Ozone Layer Depletion, Air Pollution

Technology Examples: Nuclear Weapons, Artificial Intelligence, Robots, Cell Phones, Computers, Cyberbullying, Hacking, Privacy, Online Learning, Fossil Fuels and Alternative Energies, Space Exploration, Space Tourism, Cryptocurrency, Cybersecurity, Fake News, Surveillance, Genetic Engineering, Vaccines, Genetically Modified Foods,

Engineering Examples: Transportation, Housing, Infrastructure, Education, Safety, Mass Transportation, Health Care, Food, Hunger, Overpopulation, Urban Planning, Medicines, 3-Dimensional Printing, Clean Water, Education, Bicycle Lanes, Urban Sprawl

Mathematics Examples: Education, Diversity, Space Travel, Financial Planning, Savings, Costs of College Education, Retirement, Tropical Rainforests v. Development, Overpopulation, Resource Scarcity, Environment, Alternative Energies v. Fossil Fuels, Diet, Nutrition, Nature, Social Security, the National Debt, Economics.

Deadline: February 29th

Each of our tournaments will kick off on the 1st of each month and end on the last day of each month. Students have a month to prepare and submit a speech. Please submit all entries by the end of day. Unfortunately, we cannot accept late entries for fairness to all participants. 

Original Oratory Tournament

Students record and submit a 1-5 minute video speech delivering an original speech on the monthly topic. Please review our guidelines before submitting. Students can participate in both Tournaments of Original Oratory and Speechwriting. 

Speechwriting Tournament

Students submit a written speech on the monthly topic. Elementary students should submit a 200-500 word count speech. Middle School, High School and College should submit a 500-1000 word count speech. Students can participate in both Tournaments of Original Oratory and Speechwriting. 


Everyone is a Winner: The #1 fear of the majority of adults is public speaking. So whether you participate in one of our tournaments, or our tournaments every month - you are already a winner and developing lifelong skills. Public Speaking is one of the most powerful superpowers in the world! 

Certificates of Participation: Online Certificates of Participation for all students.

Medals, Ribbons, Trophies. Ribbons, Medals and Trophies are awarded and mailed to the top winners of each division. Divisions include: Elementary School Division, Middle School Division, High School Division, and Collegiate Division. *Please note because of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine rules, we estimate we will be mailing out awards this summer (July/August). *

School Sweepstakes Awards: Trophies and/or medals are awarded to the schools with the most entries.  The First Place School in addition to their Sweepstakes Award will win a $100 Pizza Party Gift for their Great Debaters and Teachers!

Public Showcase. Top awardees will be featured on our website, social media, and e-newsletters.

* Please note that because this is a free program, we reserve the right at any time to change or cancel any events, awards, certificates. If the number of entries exceeds our volunteer and judge capacity, we reserve the right to limit the number of entries. Additionally, we are not responsible for any lost awards, ribbons, medals, trophies, gift cards, etc. Please understand as a free program managed by volunteers, we reserve the right at anytime to change or cancel any part of our program. And please share with us any feedback so that we can improve our program.

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2020 NYC Elementary School Speech & Debate League