The Contest

The purpose of the CNTA Essay Contest is to promote a better understanding of nuclear technology among high school students. It also provides an incentive for the development of written communication skills that are vital to continued success in education and in the workforce. 

In CNTA’s annual essay contest, area high schoolers have a chance to win up to $1,000. We plan to award up to 10 winners. Prize amount will range from $500 to $1,000. All winners are recognized in news releases and at a CNTA event.

Over the course of the Essay Contest program, CNTA has awarded over $90,000 to deserving students. 

Application Process

The complete entry package with detailed information is available below. Essays & a completed Entry Form in the packet must be returned to CNTA for consideration.

Deadline: February 29, 2024

Complete Entry Form Packet for 2024 Essay Contest


  • Must be a high school junior or senior enrolled at a school in one of these counties (including homeschool): Aiken (SC), Allendale (SC), Barnwell (SC),  Burke (GA), Columbia (GA), or Richmond (GA).
  • Each contestant must prepare his or her own essay about one of the listed topics.
  • Contestants must submit one (1) copy of their essay in its final form to the Contest Director by the due date of February 29, 2024. Each essay must be accompanied by an Official Student Entry Form. No faxed copies will be accepted, please email them.

Contest Criteria

Submit a 1,000-1,500 word essay on one of three topics. The 2024 topics are:

  • As climate change continues to impact our lives, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical. Compare and contrast lifetime greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power plants and other energy sources.  
  • Isotopes are commonly used for medical procedures and diagnostics. Choose at least 2 isotopes and discuss how they are sourced and used in medical applications.
  • When people land on Mars, they will need energy sources to survive. Discuss how nuclear technology can be used to get to and live on Mars.

The effort involves researching a topic and preparing an essay on the subject. CNTA has books and other reference materials that may be of help to student applicants. Outside sources are welcome, but must be cited appropriately.

The competition is judged by volunteer members of CNTA.

2023 Winners and Essays

The $1,000 Winner was:

Kaeleigh Seigler

Aiken Scholars Academy
The two $750 Winners were:

Monica Burns

Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School
The seven $500 winners were:
  • Blaise Bell, Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School, for “How Nuclear Technology has improved the Medical Field”
  • Paige Dayton, South Carolina Governor’s School, for “Nuclear Science in Medicine”
  • Treshon Hinkins, Lucy C. Laney High School, for “Impact of Nuclear Technology on Medicine”
  • John Ledbetter, South Aiken High School, for “Clean Energy Sources and Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions”
  • Kaitlyn Redd, Williston Elko High School, for “Nuclear Technology in the Medical Field”
  • Maria Reyes, Mead Hall Episcopal School, for “Nuclear Medicine and How it Saves Lives”
  • Alan Sairany, Greenbrier High School, for “The Impacts and Implications of Nuclear Energy on Emerging Technologies”
These essays are available upon request from the CNTA office.