Capturing Change

The 2013 IGES Earth Day Photo & Essay Contest for Grades 5-8  


Win a Visa gift card; Photos must be snapped April 15-26     


Spring is a dynamic season filled with vibrant changes. Trees bud, flowers bloom, temperatures rise, winds blow, and rains fall, all affecting the world around us. Some animals as well as many people also seem to wake from their winter slumbers and become more active, reengaging with nature.

The 2013 IGES Earth Day Photo & Essay Contest encourages students to rediscover their world through the lens of a camera, taking note of the dynamic changes around them. Some of these changes may be quite dramatic-the impact of a winter storm causing changes to a shoreline; the introduction of a creek created by strong spring rains; the placement of a birds’ nest in a neighborhood tree; or the presence of plants in an abandoned building or on a rooftop.

What better way to capture all those changes than with a photograph? 

During the week of Earth Day (April 22), middle school students (grades 5-8) across the country can be part of a unique photography contest, documenting changes in their local natural environment. The photograph must be taken anytime from Monday April 15 through Friday April 26, 2013. The picture could show a change that is taking place in their backyard or near their school. Maybe they have noticed that the river in the park or on a nearby farm is different from the way it was in the past.

Students should then research and write an essay about the photograph (400 words or less) that answers the following questions:


· What change is taking place in your photograph?

· What may be causing the change?

· Was the change expected?

· How might the change impact surrounding areas, including people?

· How might this picture look different in the future?


Entries will be judged by Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) staff based on relevance to the contest theme (depiction of change in the natural environment), uniqueness and overall appearance of the photo, and quality of the essay.


The top three winners will receive $150, $100, and $75 Visa gift cards, respectively. Each of the top 10 winners will receive a photo book featuring the top 10 photos with his or her photo on the front cover. The top 10 photos will also be featured on the IGES website.


Entries must be received by email or postmarked by May 10, 2013.


For submission instructions, entry form, suggestions for using this activity in the classroom, and to see winning photographs and essays from previous years, please visit:


About IGES: Located in Arlington, Va., IGES was established in 1994 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by public and private entities. IGES is a trusted leader in Earth and space science education, communication and outreach, and in fostering national and international cooperation in observing the Earth.


Sponsor a Student Contest: Is your company or organization looking for a way to support science education? Contact IGES at for sponsorship opportunities. In addition to the photo contest for grades 5-8, IGES offers a science-themed art contest for students in grades 2-4 (fall), and cash awards for grades 9-12 students demonstrating the best use of geospatial tools or data to study Earth (spring).



Brandi Bernoskie

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

(703) 312-7138 (Phone)

(703) 312-8657 (FAX)