Not-so-smart technology

We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. We’re living in a new era where pioneering technologies are altering every aspect of life. As far as we’ve come, there are still many problems that are yet to be solved. Scientists are issuing dire warnings about climate change, machine technology is redefining the workforce and diseases like Alzheimer’s are on the rise as we face an ageing population. 

In 800 words or less, identify and discuss a problem in the world that has yet to be solved by contemporary science and technology. Your answer could reflect on any issue big or small, such as the number of robots that do chores or the degree of cultural diversity in smartphone apps. 

Why do you think this problem remains unsolved? What does it say about how technology is created, and the people behind it? Do you think technology will solve this problem in the future?

Your 800 words essay could consist of:

– A news story on the state of medical technology around the world.

– An investigation into how science and technology is developed, from funding to sales.

– An essay on an unsolved issue that is personally important to you.


Don't forget to look at the section 'How to write your essay' for some tips and tricks before submitting.

Note: if you have any trouble submitting your entries online, or would like to submit a class or year batch of entries, please email your details, consent form and essays directly to info@refractionmedia.com.au


  • Entries open 29 April and close 27 August 2018.
  • To be eligible, entries must be written in the English language by Australian secondary school students in Years 7 to 10 and submitted as Word, .pdf, .rtf or .txt formats. Students home-schooled in accordance with relevant state or territory guidelines are also eligible to enter
  • Entry forms must be authorised by the student’s parent or guardian. Download the permission form here.
  • There is no limit on the number of students a school can nominate.
  • Maximum word count is 800 words, but shorter pieces will also be accepted. References do not count towards total word count.
  • The winning entry will be published in an issue of CSIRO's Double Helix Magazine, on the Careers with STEM website, and on newsouthpublishing.com.
  • The winning entry will receive a $500 voucher and a subscription to the Australian Book Review
  • The winners will be notified in October 2019 and publicly announced on 8 October 2019. All schools that enter will receive a complimentary copy of The Best Australian Science Writing 2018 for their library.
  • Entries will be assessed by a panel of judges comprising: Heather Catchpole, Creative Director of Refraction Media; Bianca Nogrady, Science Journalist & Author; Stephanie Schwarz, a teacher at Moriah College in Sydney; and Deborah Smith, former Science Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.
  • For any queries regarding the Prize, please email info@refractionmedia.com.au
  • I confirm that this entry is my original work and has not been published elsewhere or entered into any other competition.


Careers with STEM