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In the increasingly competitive and admissions-driven world of high school, learning doesn’t always come cheap. SAT-prep programs and college admissions counselors charge a pretty penny for the advantages they (claim to) bestow upon anxious juniors and seniors, and even younger students, including those in middle school, are feeling the pressure. But what about families who can’t afford exclusive prep courses?

Enter USAGraduate.com, a interactive online competition free to students in grades 6-12 that aims to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. The site tracks students’ scores on weekly quizzes and offers prizes weekly over the course of the competition and at the culmination—prizes like laptops and iPods. It also provides information about possible STEM careers to students, including in-demand jobs in the green sector.

Registration is open now at www.usagraduate.com. The program will launch on January 10, 2010. Teachers and parents can also register, to keep up to date with what their students are doing. If you teach 6th-12th graders or have one of your own in school, check it out—it won’t cost you a thing!

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