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The 10 Best Chemistry Competitions for High School Students

4 minute read

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For high school students with a passion for chemistry, competing at the national and international level can be a thrilling way to showcase their knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for the subject. These chemistry competitions provide opportunities to challenge yourself, learn from the best, and potentially earn recognition on a broader stage.

Want to hone your higher math skills with expert advice on a chemistry-focused project? Learn more about high school research project programs available through Polygence and our team of exceptional research mentors.

1. American Chemical Society (ACS) High School Chemistry Olympiad

  • Awards: Cash Prizes up to $300

  • Eligibility: U.S. high school students, including those in U.S. territories

  • Deadline: Jan 19, 2024

The ACS High School Chemistry Olympiad is a prestigious national competition that culminates in an international event. It tests your knowledge of chemistry concepts, theory, and practical applications. The competition comprises a series of rigorous exams, starting at the local level and progressing to the national exam. Top-performing students have the opportunity to represent the United States at the International Chemistry Olympiad.


2. International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO)

  • Eligibility: High school students representing their respective countries

  • Deadline: Varies by country, typically within the first few months of the year

The International Chemistry Olympiad is a prestigious global competition that brings together top high school chemistry students from around the world to compete in theoretical and practical chemistry challenges. Participants undergo a series of exams that test their knowledge and problem-solving skills. It's a chance to compete on an international stage and connect with like-minded students from various countries.


3. Chemical Educational Foundation's (CEF) National You Be The Chemist Challenge

  • Award: Scholarships

  • Eligibility: U.S. students, typically grades 5-8

  • Deadline: Varies by state, with a national competition usually in June

The CEF's National You Be The Chemist Challenge is part of a series that encourages students to explore and engage with chemistry. It involves regional and state-level competitions leading to the national challenge. Participants answer chemistry-related questions, engage in interactive events, and explore the practical applications of chemistry. While not technically for high school students, this is still a great opportunity for those interested in chemistry to get an early start.

4. Chemagination

  • Eligibility: U.S. high school students

  • Deadline: Varies by region, generally in Spring

Chemagination is a competition that challenges high school students to combine scientific knowledge with creativity. Teams create and present projects illustrating the societal impact of chemistry. It's an opportunity to showcase the practical relevance of chemistry in addressing real-world issues, from environmental sustainability to public health.

5. ChemiCO

  • Eligibility: High school students

  • Deadline: Late February

ChemiCO is an international Olympiad-style Chemistry competition open to high school students in a variety of languages. The ChemiCO competition challenges students on a general chemistry curriculum, and provides a chemistry syllabus to prepare with.

Research and Prepare for your Competition or Fair

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in your area of passion. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own. Our highly-specialized mentors can help guide you to feel even more prepared for an upcoming fair or competion. We also offer options to explore multiple topics, or to showcase your final product!

Student exploring their passions


6. International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)

  • Awards: Tuition scholarships, summer internships, and cash prizes of up to $75,000

  • Eligibility: High school students from around the world

  • Deadline: Typically in February

ISEF is a prestigious international competition that includes a chemistry category. High school students present their independent research projects to a global audience. ISEF provides a platform for sharing groundbreaking research, networking with peers, and gaining valuable experience in scientific communication.

7. National Science Bowl (Chemistry)

  • Awards: Cash prizes for the team and the school science program

  • Eligibility: U.S. high school students

  • Deadline: Varies by event, usually in the first half of the year

The National Science Bowl is an intense national quiz competition where teams of students compete to answer science-related questions including a strong emphasis on chemistry. It's a fast-paced and exciting event that tests participants' knowledge of chemistry concepts, history, and more.


8. Science Olympiad: Chemistry Events

  • Award: Various prizes including $10,000 college scholarships

  • Eligibility: U.S. high school students, typically as part of a school team

  • Deadline: Varies by state and regional competitions

The Science Olympiad features various science-related events, including chemistry. High school teams compete in chemistry challenges and experiments.

9. Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS)

  • Award: Uundergraduate tuition scholarships (1st Place receives $2,000; 2nd Place receives $1,500; 3rd Place receives $1,000)

  • Eligibility: U.S. high school students

  • Deadline: Typically in December or January

JSHS is a national competition that includes a category for chemistry. High school students present their scientific research to a panel of experts. It's an opportunity to showcase your research skills and learn from experienced scientists.


10. National Chemistry Week Contests by American Chemical Society (ACS)

  • Award:  $300 to first place and $150 to second-place

  • Eligibility: U.S. high school students

  • Deadline: Varies by specific contests, often in the fall

The ACS organizes various chemistry contests as part of National Chemistry Week. These contests cover a range of topics and are a fun way to engage with chemistry.

Polygence: Craft A Prize-Winning Chemistry Research Project

These national and international level chemistry competitions offer high school students the chance to challenge themselves, gain exposure on a broader stage, and compete with peers from around the world. Be sure to check each competition's website for specific details, application requirements, and exact deadlines. Participating in these prestigious contests can be a significant step in your journey to explore and excel in the field of chemistry. Polygence’s core program is one great way to expand your chemistry knowledge and work on a project to prepare for these competitions. Good luck with your chemistry competitions!

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