2024 Lincoln Essay Competition


 

Lincoln and the world of AI

"…in the world's history, certain inventions and discoveries occurred, of peculiar value, on account of their great efficiency in facilitating all other inventions and discoveries.”

—Abraham Lincoln, in his 1858 Discoveries and Inventions lecture


PROMPT:     
President Lincoln had a life-long interest in technology, believing in the power of human innovation to improve lives. In his Discoveries and Inventions lecture, he reflects on some of the essential human innovations that have shaped the course of history (speech, writing, the printing press, steam-power, etc.). Today, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has the potential to make a similarly profound impact on society. 

With this in mind, please answer the following prompt in 500 words or fewer: 

Select a subject or field that interests you and explore the potential impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) within that area. Provide a specific example of how AI could positively influence this field, as well as one example of how it could be detrimental. Based on the examples you've provided, explain whether you believe the benefits outweigh the risks to your chosen area of interest.

 
WINNERS of the Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition, 2024
 
Hildene received 211 submissions from around the state to this year’s 8th Grade Lincoln Essay Competition. A first, second, and third-place winner was chosen from each of four regions and three honorable mentions were selected from the combined pool of finalistsstatewide. If you are one of the applicants, whether your essay garnered an award or not, you are to be congratulated for engaging in the process. It takes perseverance and many drafts to craft a compelling answer to the LEC prompts—and in 500 words or fewer! May your efforts alone encourage you to continue writing. The world needs people who can successfully articulate complex matters, adding a human touch to analysis and creative expression. We will be sending a letter to every student who participated, along with some guest passes to Hildene. Please come visit.
 
The context for this year’s prompt was as follows: President Lincoln had a life-long interest in technology, believing in the power of human innovation to improve lives. In his Discoveries and Inventions lecture, he reflected on some of the essential human innovations that have shaped the course of history (speech, writing, the printing press, steam-power, etc.). Today, the emergence of artificial intelligence technology (AI) has the potential to make a similarly profound impact on society.
 
With this in mind, students responded to the following:
 
Select a subject or field that interests you and explore the potential impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) within that area. Provide a specific example of how AI could positively influence this field, as well as one example of how it could be detrimental. Based on the examples you've provided, explain whether you believe the benefits outweigh the risks to your chosen area of interest.
 
 
Congratulations to the winners!
 
Region One:  Grand Isle, Franklin, Orleans, Essex, Lamoille, Caledonia, Washington Counties
First Place, $500
Ursa Goldenrose
Ursa wrote about the impacts of AI on the field of fan fiction, finding that the risks to this community of writers and readers outweigh the benefits.
Hazen Union School, Hardwick; Teacher:  Joseph Murphy
 
Second Place, $400
Helena DeVore
Helena outlined both the positive and negative impacts that AI poses for the field of journalism, finding that the risks substantially outweigh the benefits.
Peoples Academy Middle Level, Morrisville; Teacher:  Ryan VanDyk
 
Third Place, $300
Ava Stratman
Ava believes society will adapt and learn to use AI in education responsibly as a tool in education so that the benefits will outweigh the risks.
Peoples Academy Middle Level, Morrisville; Teacher:  Ryan VanDyk
 
Region Two:  Chittenden County
First Place, $500
Maelyn Slavik
Maelyn wrote about the pros and cons of AI for artists and writers, finding that the risk of losing the irreplaceable element of human creativity far outweigh the benefits.
Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Teacher: Stephen Boyle
 
Second Place, $400
Hanna Schold
Hanna wrote about the loss of connection between musicians and fans, finding that the risks of AI in the music industry outweigh the benefits.
Mater Christi School, Burlington; Teacher: Katherine Fischer
 
Third Place, $300
Britta Fitzgerald
Britta found that the benefits of AI in eldercare (specifically, the use of companion robots) outweigh the risks, given the shortage of healthcare workers.
Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Teacher: Jeremy DeMink
 
 
Region Three:  Addison, Rutland, Bennington Counties
First Place, $500
Levi Stoll
Levi sees AI as a major boon to diagnostic radiology, provided human radiologists aided by it are cognizant of its inherent biases.  
Maple Street School, Manchester Center; Teacher: Conor Welch
 
Second Place, $400
Timmy Fitzsimmons
Timmy wrote about the risks AI poses to democracy that far outweigh its benefits, writing specifically about the dangers it poses during an election year.
Maple Street School, Manchester Center; Teacher: Conor Welch
 
Third Place, $300
Madison King
Madison found that—as long as the essential human touch in healthcare is preserved—the benefits of AI to the field hold immense promise.
Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School, Bristol; Teacher: Emily Ringquist
 
Region Four:  Orange, Windsor, Windham Counties
First Place, $500
Declan Read-Murrell
Declan wrote that the benefits of AI in law enforcement at this time are not worth the risks that such technology poses, given its inherent biases.
Upper Valley Waldorf School, Quechee; Teacher: Devon Abbey
 
Second Place, $400
Ezra Keim
Ezra writes that while AI might be a wonderful tool for some forms of writing (corporate, advertising), the risks it poses to authors and journalists far outweigh the benefits.
Hilltop Montessori School, Brattleboro; Teacher: Ani Schaeffer
 
Third Place, $300
Ashton Perkins
Ashton found that, despite some of the benefits of AI in agriculture, the risks (like job loss) far outweigh the advantages.
Upper Valley Waldorf School, Quechee; Teacher: Devon Abbey
 
3 Honorable Mentions, $200 each
 
Tegan Bushey
Tegan wrote that even though AI in the field of architecture has the potential to threaten jobsand curtail human creativity, the benefits (lowering costs for housing, detecting structural hazards, etc.) outweigh the concerns it poses.
Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Teacher: Terrence Richards
 
Isa Cramer
Isa wrote about the many ways in which AI could take a tremendous toll on the entertainment industry, despite some of its benefits.
Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Teacher: Kathy Gallagher
 
Elle Lipkin
Elle wrote that if AI is used in partnership with trained professionals in animal healthcare, the benefits to the field will far outweigh the risks.
Lake Champlain Waldorf School, Shelburne; Teacher: Abigail Diehl-Noble
 

2024 Educator Introduction Letter        
2024 Student Application        
2024 LEC POSTER


LEC BACKGROUND: 

For the past seventeen years, Hildene has administered the Lincoln Essay Competition informed by our mission: Values into Action. Using Abraham Lincoln’s legacy as touchstone, Hildene seeks to inspire young people to tackle important issues, underscoring the responsibility each of us has to help make our world a better place. The competition is open to all eighth graders in the state of Vermont, whether they enter as part of a class assignment or on their own. Essays are judged on the student’s understanding of the subject, as well as on their ability to convey that understanding through good writing.

The inspiration and prompt change yearly and are published in late November/early December, along with instructions for applying, rules, guidelines, tips and a sample assessment rubric. The Lincoln Essay Competition supports 8th Grade Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Literacy in Writing, as well as the C3 Framework for Social Studies.

The competition is judged in four regions. Home-schooled students are encouraged to enter and will be judged as a member of the region in which they reside. Judges come from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, geographical locations, vocations, religions, genders, etc., and include a mix of new and repeat judges every year.  The judges never see anything that identifies the student, their address or the school they attend.

Winners receive certificates, and cash prizes. Each region has a first, second, and third place winner. Honorable Mentions are by discretion. We emphasize to all students and their educators that the most important aspect of the competition is the process of examining a tough issue and endeavoring to articulate a well thought-out and compelling response to it. We commend all participants who show their best effort in offering genuine responses under the very particular expectations and standards of Hildene’s 8th Grade Lincoln Essay Competition.

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