Pioneer | Top 10 Science Competitions for High School Students

Top 10 Science Competitions for High School Students

Pioneer > News > Top 10 Science Competitions for High School Students
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There’s a vast array of science competitions for students, each with a distinct focus, such as robotics, environmental science, or genetic research. Choosing the perfect one from this broad selection can be daunting.

Thankfully, Pioneer Academics has used its stringent standards to handpick the top science competitions for high school students. Alongside these excellent contests, valuable advice from an experienced admissions officer is also provided.

Pioneer Academics

Pioneer Academics presents an astutely designed research program for high school students that enhance their research and critical thinking skills. Students are given access to a rich variety of multimedia resources that strengthen their understanding of complex scientific concepts.

Guided by experienced faculty, students delve into relevant topics that interest them. The program concludes with each student crafting an undergraduate-level research paper, which is a valuable preparation for the rigorous evaluations in science competitions.

Davidson Fellowship Davidson Institute

The Davidson Fellowship by the Davidson Institute presents a prestigious and competitive scholarship opportunity for high school students exhibiting significant work in their chosen area of science.

This nationally recognized initiative is specifically designed for high-achieving students. Scholarships are granted based on creative applications of existing knowledge, innovative solutions, and interdisciplinary discoveries, among other criteria. 

Whether individuals or student teams, applicants must be 18 or younger, with a clear demonstration of academic maturity close to the college graduate level. The science competition invites works in domains such as biology, environmental science, physics, and more.

Format Online
Cost $50,000, $25,000, and $10,000 worth of scholarship funds
Program Dates June - July 2023
Application Deadline(s) February 15th, 2023
Format Online
Cost $50,000, $25,000, and $10,000 worth of scholarship funds
Program Dates June - July 2023
Application Deadline(s) February 15th, 2023

Regeneron ISEF 2023 – Society of Science

The Regeneron ISEF 2023, an international competition and the world’s largest pre-college STEM event, presents high school students with a grand stage to showcase their scientific prowess.

Affiliated fairs, part of the Society for Science network, are held at various levels—local, regional, state, and national—across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. To participate in ISEF, students from grades 9-12 must first excel at a Society-affiliated science fair.

This prestigious science competition brings together high-achieving students, innovative solutions, and critical thinking, culminating in an event judged by nationally recognized professional scientists.

It’s not just a science fair; it’s an opportunity for young scientists to conduct research projects, present outstanding research, and earn the chance to compete for substantial awards.

Format In-person
Cost $75,000
Program Dates May 14th -19th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) November 9th, 2022
Format In-person
Cost $75,000
Program Dates May 14th -19th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) November 9th, 2022

Regeneron STS – Society of Science

The Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS), a national competition and one of the oldest, most prestigious high school science competitions, annually invites high school seniors to submit original, independent research projects.

With around 1,900 submissions each year, this distinguished science research competition aims to identify and inspire the nation’s most promising young scientists who are generating solutions for pressing societal challenges.

Unlike most research competitions, the Regeneron STS, originally the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, is unique in its focus on high school seniors and the depth of scientific research they conduct. The competition showcases the students’ innovative solutions, scientific research skills, and their ability to communicate complex ideas effectively.

Format In-person
Cost Awards range from $2,000 USD to $250,000 USD
Program Dates June - November, 2023
Application Deadline(s) November 2023
Format In-person
Cost Awards range from $2,000 USD to $250,000 USD
Program Dates June - November, 2023
Application Deadline(s) November 2023

National Science Bowl (NSB) – U.S. Department of Energy

The National Science Bowl (NSB), launched by the U.S. Department of Energy in 1991, is a national competition that brings together high school students and middle school students in teams to compete in a fast-paced, verbal forum.

Teams solve technical problems and answer questions in all branches of science and math. Each team is composed of four students, one alternate student, and a coach, often coming from the same school.

This competition encourages students to engage in math and science activities and develop their STEM skills. Regional winners of the science bowl championship receive an all-expenses-paid trip to compete at the national event, held in Washington, D.C. in April. These national events involve several days of science activities, sightseeing, and competitions.

Beyond just competing, students also get to participate in cutting-edge science seminars and hands-on science activities, enriching their experience. While students work collaboratively to answer complex questions, they also enjoy the camaraderie and excitement of the science bowl experience, often bringing home many prizes.

Format In-person
Cost The top two high school teams receive trips to one of the National Parks, all-expenses paid. The top three middle and high school teams receive a trophy, individual medals, and photographs with officials of the Department of Energy.
Program Dates April 27 - May 1, 2023
Application Deadline(s) The deadline to register for any event is no later than 3 weeks prior to the event
Format In-person
Cost The top two high school teams receive trips to one of the National Parks, all-expenses paid. The top three middle and high school teams receive a trophy, individual medals, and photographs with officials of the Department of Energy.
Program Dates April 27 - May 1, 2023
Application Deadline(s) The deadline to register for any event is no later than 3 weeks prior to the event

Breakthrough Junior Challenge – Breakthrough Junior

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is an international competition that invites young people aged between 13 and 18, including high school students and homeschooled students, to engage in a creative endeavor of communicating complex scientific ideas.

Participants, who could be from any part of the world, are tasked to select a challenging theory, concept, or principle in physics, life sciences, or mathematics, and then create a short, two-minute video that effectively communicates this idea in an imaginative and illuminating way.

This challenge encourages students to utilize their communication skills, creativity, and understanding of academic science literature. Participants are also involved in a Peer-to-Peer review process, where they view and score submissions from other contestants, fostering a sense of scientific community.

Format Online
Cost $250,000 college scholarship
$100,000 to the winner’s school for the renovation or addition of a science lab
$50,000 to a teacher selected by the winner
Program Dates April 1st - June 24th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) June 25th, 2023
Format Online
Cost $250,000 college scholarship
$100,000 to the winner’s school for the renovation or addition of a science lab
$50,000 to a teacher selected by the winner
Program Dates April 1st - June 24th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) June 25th, 2023

MIT THINK Scholars Program – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The MIT THINK Scholars Program is an innovation initiative focused on high school students’ engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Unlike many science research competitions that require a completed research project for participation, THINK welcomes students who have only conducted extensive background research for a potential project and need further guidance.

Students compete by submitting a written research proposal outlining a novel idea in the fields of science, technology, or engineering.

The selected finalists receive weekly mentorship from the THINK team members, who provide technical guidance, resources, and updates on the project’s progress. If circumstances allow, finalists are also invited for a four-day, all-expenses-paid trip to tour labs at MIT’s campus. They present their research to MIT students and faculty and interact with the THINK team.

The THINK Scholars Program is an excellent opportunity for young researchers to receive both mentorship and funding for their projects, while also experiencing the vibrant intellectual community at MIT.

Format Online
Cost $1,000 to work on their projects and have weekly mentorship meetings with THINK team members for technical guidance, helpful resources, and progress updates.
Program Dates November 2023 to December 31st, 2023
Application Deadline(s) January 1st, 2023
Format Online
Cost $1,000 to work on their projects and have weekly mentorship meetings with THINK team members for technical guidance, helpful resources, and progress updates.
Program Dates November 2023 to December 31st, 2023
Application Deadline(s) January 1st, 2023

Genes in Space

The Genes in Space competition offers students in grades 7-12 an exciting challenge to design DNA experiments addressing issues in space exploration.

Participants dive into intriguing topics, including the detection of alien life forms, understanding the molecular changes that space travel may cause to our eyes and bones, and assessing the impact of cosmic radiation on our DNA.

This platform encourages young scientists to propose innovative solutions to these problems, utilizing at least one tool from the Genes in Space toolkit.

The unique prize for the competition is the opportunity to have the winning experiment tested in the ultimate laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS). This not only offers students an incredible chance to contribute to space biology but also provides an enriching educational experience that fosters their scientific research skills.

Winners are awarded a P51 Fluorescence Biotechnology Kit for their school, promoting further research and learning. Genes in Space perfectly blends the thrill of space exploration with the demands of scientific inquiry, enabling students to participate in this frontier of scientific research.

Format Online
Cost P51 Fluorescence Biotechnology Kit for your school Your experiment will be used and launched in Space in 2024
Program Dates January 12th, 2023 - April 16th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) April 17th, 2023
Format Online
Cost P51 Fluorescence Biotechnology Kit for your school Your experiment will be used and launched in Space in 2024
Program Dates January 12th, 2023 - April 16th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) April 17th, 2023

Annual DNA Day Essay Contest – American Society of Human Genetics

The Annual DNA Day Essay Contest, held by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), welcomes high school students worldwide to reflect on key genetic concepts.

Commemorating the Human Genome Project’s completion and DNA’s double helix discovery, the contest cultivates students’ understanding and encourages them to engage in scientific research.

The 2023 contest celebrates ASHG’s 75th anniversary with the theme “One Humanity, Many Genomes.” Students are expected to write well-reasoned essays that demonstrate a deep comprehension of the topic, with emphasis on the accuracy of scientific content, evidence-based argument, writing quality, and appropriate references.

This competition inspires young scientists to explore the impact of genetic advancements on our lives and fosters their academic and communication skills.

Format In-person
Cost 1st Place Winner: $1,000 for student
$1,000 genetics materials grant

2nd Place Winner: $600 for student
$600 genetics materials grant

3rd Place Winner: $400 for student
$400 genetics materials grant

Honorable Mentions: 10 student prizes of $100 each
Program Dates January - Feb 28th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) March 1st, 2023
Format In-person
Cost 1st Place Winner: $1,000 for student
$1,000 genetics materials grant

2nd Place Winner: $600 for student
$600 genetics materials grant

3rd Place Winner: $400 for student
$400 genetics materials grant

Honorable Mentions: 10 student prizes of $100 each
Program Dates January - Feb 28th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) March 1st, 2023

Force For Good High School Essay Contest – Genome Medical

The Force For Good High School Essay Contest by Genome Medical is a science competition geared towards increasing awareness of professional opportunities in genetics. The contest, open to high school students, encourages participants to explore the field of genetic counseling, focusing on its importance in promoting diversity and inclusion.

The essay question challenges students to consider the qualities and skills genetic counselors need to enhance diversity and the consequent impact on patient care. Submitted essays are reviewed by a diverse committee and evaluated based on content, flow, and grammatical accuracy.

The competition aims to bridge the diversity gap in the genetics field and inspire students not currently represented to consider careers in this vital area of healthcare.

Format Online
Cost $2500, $1000, and $500
Program Dates April 25th - May 15th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) May 15th, 2023
Format Online
Cost $2500, $1000, and $500
Program Dates April 25th - May 15th, 2023
Application Deadline(s) May 15th, 2023

Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) is a national competition designed to foster interest in STEM fields among high school students. Supported by the Department of Defense and administered by the National Science Teaching Association, the symposium encourages students to participate in research and experimentation, providing a platform for them to present their findings to peers and STEM professionals. 

Participating students gain public recognition, a sense of achievement, and connection to future research opportunities in STEM. They also get access to lab tours, speakers, and activities to further develop their understanding of potential STEM careers. 

The competition is part of an annual symposium and year-round digital programming aimed at promoting STEM education and providing scholarship and career pathways for students in these fields.

Format In-person
Cost The first-place regional prize is $2,000 in scholarships and the National grand prize is $12,000 in scholarships.
Program Dates Deadlines vary by region
Application Deadline(s) Deadlines vary by region
Format In-person
Cost The first-place regional prize is $2,000 in scholarships and the National grand prize is $12,000 in scholarships.
Program Dates Deadlines vary by region
Application Deadline(s) Deadlines vary by region

Learn More

If you’re a high school student interested in learning more about the top 10 science competitions for High School Students, we encourage you to attend a free online information session.

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