Overview of the Top Science Competitions
Every year, more than 9 million students in grades K–12 enter a science competition. Of those, only several thousand students in grades 9–12 participate in the topmost levels of competition. These prestigious competitions include:
- Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF): For high school students only, who must first qualify at an affiliated fair. Top prize is a $50,000 scholarship.
- Intel International Science and Engineering Fair website
- Intel's ISEF website contains additional information.
- Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS): A competition for high school seniors. Top prize is a $100,000 scholarship.
- Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology: A competition for high school students. Top prize is a $100,000 scholarship.
- Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS): A competition for high school students only. Regional winners proceed to a national competition.
- International BioGENEius Challenge: For high school students only; recognizes outstanding research in biotechnology. Process is state, national, international; hosted by the Biotechnology Institute. Top prize is a $7,500 cash award.
- Google Science Fair: The Google Science Fair is an online science competition open to students ages 13-18 from around the globe. Top prize is a $50,000 scholarship.
- Some of the larger state and regional fairs.
Check out the websites for videos and much more information. Each of these competitions is distinctly different, but they all have extremely high standards for success, generally far beyond what is expected at other levels of competition. So, if you are in middle school or junior high school, we hope you aspire to participate in these fairs, but don't worry about your current project meeting the same standards. Virtually all of the participants in the top competitions "worked their way up" from much simpler projects when they were younger!
|Grade Levels||Eligibility||Format||Teams Allowed?|
|Intel ISEF||9-12||Qualify by being a top winner at an affiliated science fair from around the world||Science fair board + judging interviews||Yes|
|Siemens Competition||9-12 for teams
12 for individuals
|Open. U.S. students. Application deadline October||Research paper + presentations for finalists||Yes|
|Intel STS||12||Open. U.S. students. Application deadline November||Research paper + interviews for 40 finalists||Individuals only|
|JSHS||9-12||Open. U.S. students. Deadlines vary by region (usually December/January).||Research paper + oral presentations at each level||Yes|
|Google Science Fair||8-12||Open. Students worldwide ages 13-18. Deadline May||Online project submission + judging interviews for finalists||Yes|
There are additional rules to determine whether your research is eligible. For example, the Siemens Competition does not allow social and behavioral science research projects. Check the competition websites for current rules.