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. 

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

2024 Winners and Essays

$1,000 Winners

$750 Winner

  • Coralyn Carins, Lakeside High School, for “Radioisotopes in Medicine: 21st Century Technology”

$500 Winners

  • Megyn Bolen, Home School, for “Radiation Rocks”
  • Paige Dayton, SC Governors School for the Arts, for “Nuclear Energy & the Colonization of Mars”
  • William Seigler, North Augusta High School, for “90 seconds”
  • Chassity Williams, South Aiken High School, for “The uses of medical isotopes”

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.