ASK is a nonfiction magazine for children 7–10 years old who are curious about science and the world they live in. Each edition of ASK is built around a central theme on some question or concept in the natural, physical, or social sciences, technology, mathematics, history, or the arts. ASK introduces kids to the joys of thinking, writing, and observing scientifically, and presumes them to be active participants in the ongoing search for better knowledge about the world.
ASK articles should read as engaging nonfiction, not like school textbook or encyclopedia material. Intended to be accessible and appealing to newly independent readers (grades 2–5), the ideal ASK article should also be interesting to any general adult reader. ASK looks for articles that are concrete, specific, and relevant to this age group. They should tell a good story, with an emphasis on ideas rather than just facts. ASK encourages the use of humor as a teaching strategy, and believes that no topic is beyond the grasp of an intelligent young person if explained well in plain terms.
ASK encourages writers to stretch the boundaries of topic themes and come up with interesting perspectives and unexpected connections. For example, for an edition on size, good articles topics might include “Why do we stop growing?” or “How do clothing makers decide how many of each size pants to make?” But we would not be interested in a worlds-records style list of biggest and smallest insects, animals, etc., with no discussion of why they are that size.
All articles in ASK are commissioned; ASK welcomes queries for articles for upcoming themes (see table below). Queries should give an overview of the proposed article, including scope and treatment, resources, and a draft opening paragraph. Writers new to ASK should also provide a resume and two writing samples, including at least 200 words of unedited copy on any nonfiction topic.
Authors are expected to ensure that all content is scientifically correct in both conception and detail, and drafts should include a full list of references and sources consulted. Authors wishing to write for ASK should consult any past copy to get a sense of the tone, style, and range of articles. (Sample copies are available for viewing at the Cricket Media Store, where you can also purchase a current issue.) Issues are also available at many local libraries.
- Feature Articles (1200–1600 words, with sidebars)
- Photo Essays (400–600 words)
- Humor Pieces (200–400 words)
- Short Profiles of People, Inventions, Events, or the Arts (200–400 words)
- Theme-appropriate experiments
Story pitches should be submitted on the Submittable page you're currently on, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. We do not accept hard-copy submissions or queries. Submittable accepts international submissions.
- Articles previously unpublished: Rights vary, with option for authors to retain copyright.
- Articles previously published: ASK purchases second publication rights.
Queries and Questions
Queries and questions should be submitted through our Submittable page. Pitches can also be directed to email@example.com. Authors are also encouraged to check the ASK author’s page for current edition status, needs, and updates from the editor.
See our submission guidelines for artists
2019 Issue Themes
January: Animal Senses
General direction: How do different animals sense the world? How do we know? And can they help us see the world in new ways?
Possible topics: What does the world look (smell, taste, etc.) to a dog, fish, or other animal? Who has the best vision/hearing/magnetic sense/ESP, and why?; What tools to scientists use to measure what animals are sensing?; How can understanding animal senses help humans treat animals better (e.g. bird-proof buildings); using animal senses to build better robots and other machines (e.g., dragonfly vision, ultracane); can technology expand the human sensory range?
Queries by: April 20 2018
February: Kids Invent
General direction: What are the kids inventing? What makes a good inventor, anyway? And how do I get started?
Possible topics: Profiles of kids/teams inventing useful or interesting things; the invention process (the difference between inventing and making things, what’s the problem? – identifying a need for an invention, Innovation—new twists on old ideas); the childhoods of famous inventors; interview with a professional inventor about how they got started; invention contests, what they are and tips for doing well; after the contest, developing and marketing inventions; are kids natural inventors?
Queries by: June 1 2018
March: Where does the garbage go?
General direction: What do we do with all our garbage, and can we do better?
Possible topics: Day in the life of your trash (mechanics of garbage collection); welcome, decomposers; how recycling works; ideas for improving trash handling and recycling (e.g., high-tech tools for recycling and sorting, engineering a dump, dealing with e-waste, turning waste into useful things); the problem of plastic and possible solutions; space trash; engineering solutions to reduce waste (not just recycle); why archaeologists love middens
Queries by: Jul 1 2018
April: How We Made Friends with Horses
General direction: What makes horses special? And why do they like us?
Possible topics: Evolution of the horse; profile of a young rider learning to ride; caring for a horse; how horses run; the farrier’s art; horse-oriented festivals or cultural practices
Queries by: Aug 1 2018
May/June: Living Rock
General direction: How have living organisms shaped the geology of the Earth?
Possible topics: How early life shaped the physical earth (oxygenation, tectonics); making caves; how we get soil; life in the rock cycle (bacteria, algae, trees, insects, animals); parrotfish making beaches; rocks that are made up of organic material (limestone); fossil fuels; technology that scientists use to study biogeology; meet a biogeologist; mountain or island succession; can we put geologic biota to work for us? how would earth look different without living things?
Queries by: Sep 1 2018
July/August: World of Soccer
General direction: What is the science behind a great soccer match?
Possible topics: Physics of a perfect kick, and high-tech tools for measuring it; scientific tricks for improving your play; why are soccer balls shaped the way they are, do the patch shapes matter and why; history of soccer rules, what makes a good/bad rule; soccer in space and other unusual places; engineering better uniforms, cleats, turf, puncture-proof balls, etc.; science of concussions
Queries by: Oct 1 2018
September: Whole Cloth
General direction: How did humans develop cloth, and how can we improve it?
Possible topics: History of textiles; when did humans start wearing clothes; invention of string (can’t weave without it); who invented knitting; how archaeologists study ancient cloth and what they learn; the best cloth for different jobs; looms ancient and modern; fabric dying and printing; modern smart and high-tech fabrics; how fabrics are tested (e.g., artificial butt for jeans)
Queries by: Dec 15 2018
October: Deep Dark Ocean
General direction: What lives in the deepest parts of the ocean? How can we find out? How has life adapted to survive there?
Possible topics: profiles of particular benthic communities and/or creatures (floor or water column, but in dark zone); robot subs; tracking deep-diving animals; adaptations to depth, cold, pressure; bioluminescence; discoveries from the deep ocean (useful compounds? microbes? biochemicals? ideas for technology?); mapping the ocean floor; laying and fixing undersea data cables
Queries by: Feb 1 2019
November/December: Surprising Saturn
General direction: What do we know about Saturn, and how can we find out more?
Possible topics: Cassini mission; interpreting the data; what is a gas giant; how do planets get rings and how common are they, could Earth ever have rings; Galileo’s telescope; Dragonfly probe and its mission design: could there be life on Saturn’s moons? How do biologists figure out what we need to look for, and then how do engineers build something to look for that?
Queries by: Mar 15 2019