Shortcut Navigation:

2. Read The Rules

Rules and Regulations

Please read the following rules and regulations before beginning your project. Review them with your parent, teacher, or mentor. Follow the rules and complete the forms as required. Failure to do so may disqualify your entry.


Ethics Statement

Participants are expected to conduct their investigations with honesty and integrity. The presentation of another's work as your own, plagiarism, or the fabrication or use of false data will disqualify a student from this and future Young Naturalist Awards competitions.



  1. If you are a student in grades seven through twelve and are currently enrolled in a public, private, parochial, or home school in the United States, Canada, the U.S. territories, or if you are a citizen in a U.S.-sponsored school abroad, you are eligible to enter.
  2. Children of American Museum of Natural History employees or consultants are not eligible to enter the Young Naturalist Awards competition.

Entry Rules

  1. Each student may submit only one entry.
  2. The essay must be the work of a single student. Students who work with a partner or with a group may enter, but each essay must be written by an individual student. Group essays are ineligible.
  3. Essays based on studies conducted by a class, a summer institute, summer camp, pre-college student research program, or environmental program are eligible as long as the student demonstrates his or her independence and creativity. Part III of the entry form must be filled out.
  4. Essay length must fall within the following limits:

    - Grades 7-8: 500-2,500 words

    - Grades 9-10: 1,000-3,000 words

    - Grades 11-12: 1,500-4,000 words

    Essays may not exceed the word limit Data tables, charts, graphs, bibliographies, and acknowledgements are not included in the word count. Captions that exceed one sentence will be included in the word count. All parts of the essay must be submitted on 8.5" x 11" single-sided white paper. All pages must be numbered. Essays should have at least a one-inch margin and must be typed single column, double-spaced in an easily legible font of 12 point or larger. Bibliographies and in-text citations must follow the MLA format. Essays submitted in plastic binders, on disc, or on video will not be accepted. Important note: Keep all original artwork and photographs. If you are chosen as a winner, we will need these originals.
  5. All essays MUST include photographs. All photographs must be taken by the student (except in the case where the student is in the photo). All artwork and graphics must be the work of the student. Images downloaded from the internet are not permitted. Some maps are permitted. If you have any questions regarding photographs, graphics, or maps please contact the YNA administrator.
  6. Each essay must include a completed YNA entry form. Part II must be signed by a parent, guardian, teacher, or mentor. A student who attended a summer institute, pre-college student research program, or worked in an environmental program or on a class investigation, and who based his or her essay on that experience, must have the teacher or supervisor of that program fill out Part III, giving descriptive evidence of the student's independence and creativity. Failure to fill out part II will disqualify an entry.
  7. All investigations must be conducted according to state and national laws and regulations. For example, the collecting of specimens, even fallen leaves, in many state and national parks is prohibited. Students are allowed to observe plants and animals in their natural habitats so long as they do not cause them harm, stress, discomfort, or pain.
  8. Projects involving live vertebrate and invertebrate experimentation must be conducted in an ethical manner. Deliberately exposing an animal to poison or a toxic material, harming an animal or causing it stress (for example, trampling an ants' nest, putting an animal in a tank with a predator, or putting butterfly pupae in a refrigerator) is not permitted. If you want clarification of this rule, please contact the Young Naturalist Awards administrator.
  9. Projects involving human subjects are ineligible.
  10. Entries for the 2015 Young Naturalist Awards may be submitted as early as January 1, 2015. Mailed entries must be received at the American Museum of Natural History no later than March 1, 2015. Digital entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST, March 1, 2015. Late and/or incomplete entries or entry forms will not be accepted.
  11. Entries from students age 12 and under may be submitted by mail or fax only. All other entries may be submitted by mail or online.


  1. Twelve cash awards, two for each grade level, will be awarded to the winners. Cash awards are as follows:
    - 7th grade: $500 
    - 8th grade: $750 
    - 9th grade: $1,000 
    - 10th grade: $1,500 
    - 11th grade: $2,000 
    - 12th grade: $2,500
  2. The winning entries will be published on the Museum's website.
  3. Up to 36 finalists will receive a cash award of $50 and a certificate of recognition. Up to 200 semifinalists will receive a non-cash award and a certificate of recognition.
  4. The teachers of the top twelve winners will receive classroom resources and a free Seminars on Science course. (
  5. The first name and project title of the finalists and semifinalists will be posted on our website the week of March 23, 2015. The winners will be notified shortly after that. Their names will also be posted on our website.
  6. Winners, along with a parent or guardian, will be invited on an expense-paid trip to the Museum to attend an awards ceremony, receive cash prizes, and to take behind-the-scenes tours.
  7. All students who enter receive certificates and reviews of their investigations Semi-finalists also receive a non-cash award.

How Will My Entry Be Judged?

Your essay will be judged alongside the essays submitted by other students in your grade. Judges will use a rubric to evaluate 13 categories. Each category will be scored from 4 (excellent) to 1 (poor) and the scores totaled. Please refer to the YNA Judging Rubric 2015 to see how your entry will be judged.


References and Citing Sources

Each essay submitted to the Young Naturalist Awards contest must include a bibliography listing the references you consulted. The bibliography must the MLA format. In addition, information you use in your essay that comes from outside sources must be cited in the body of the text. Information of preparing a bibliography and properly citing sources can be found on:


How to Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism, or the fabrication or use of false data will disqualify a student from this and future Young Naturalist Awards competitions. See How to Avoid Plagiarism:

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions