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Top 10 Science Fairs and Science Competitions for High School Students in 2024

5 minute read

It’s never too early to plan your participation in a teen science fair or competition program. With few exceptions, these events are usually the culmination of months of hard work with a team and a teacher or mentor, often as a school-related experiment. Explore our list of 10 top (mostly) science fairs and competition opportunities for high schoolers.

Science Competition and Award Programs for High School Students

1. Davidson Fellows

Hosting institution: Davidson Institute

Format: In-person (Reno, NV)

Application deadline: February 14, 2024

The three-week THINK Summer Institute is a residential summer program, designed for high achieving students. The scholarship is awarded to students presenting an innovative solution with broad-range implications in STEM, Literature, Music, and Philosophy. Awards range from $10,000-50,000 USD. 

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!

2. National Geographic Student Travel

Hosting institution: National Geographic

Cost: Varies $6,900-$9,590 USD

Format: In-person (worldwide options)

Application deadline: Estimated March, 15, 2024, but deadlines may vary by location

This is not a traditional science fair or competition. Rather, it’s a unique opportunity to discover the natural sciences with National Geographic. Students can choose from a range of experiences, including: Exploration in Baja & the Gulf of California; the Canadian Arctic; Iceland; Namibia; or Norway, as well as photography workshops in Tokyo and Yellowstone. Depending on the program selected, the camp duration ranges from 10-22 days. Each program offers a choice of one or two areas of focus, including photography, climate and geology, technology, or wildlife conservation.

3. Genes in Space

Hosting institution: Boeing and miniPCR bio along with ISS U.S. National Laboratory and New England Biolabs

Format: In-person (Location varies year to year)

Application deadline: April 15, 2024

This is made for the space biology pioneer. Using tools such as the fluorescence viewer, PCR thermal cycler, or the BioBits cell free system (or a combination of them), students design DNA experiments that address a challenge in space exploration. The grand prize is an opportunity to participate in Space Biology Camp and travel to Kennedy Space Center to see the launch of your DNA experiment to space!

4. U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Hosting institution: The Water Environment Federation

Format: In-person (location varies by year)

Application deadline: April 15, 2024 (for the state competition)

Students who have conducted water-related science projects present to judges who rate them on relevance, methodology, subject knowledge, practical skills, creativity and paper/presentation. This competition begins at the state level with winners advancing to a national competition. The national competition is held in June and the winner advances to the international competition in late August. The competition relies on established science fair competitions, such as the Regeneron ISEF, and incorporates students from private school or non-traditional learning settings (e.g., home school) via an on-line submittal opportunity.

5. Envirothon

Hosting institution: National Conservation Foundation

Format: In-person (varies; held in New York, NY in 2024)

Application deadline: May 5, 2023 (for the 2024 competition)

The focus of this program is environmental and natural resource conservation problem-solving, teambuilding, and leadership. It emphasizes five main areas of study:

  • Aquatic Ecology

  • Forestry

  • Soils and Land Use

  • Wildlife

  • A Current Environmental Issue

Teams of five students work together to promote stewardship of natural resources and to experience environmentally-oriented activities. The event culminates in a team oral presentation.

6. Conrad Challenge

Hosting institution: Conrad Foundation

Format: In-person

Application deadline: August 2023 (ends in April 2024)

Occurring from November to the following April in a given school year, this event challenges young entrepreneurs to solve real-world problems in new ways. Teams of 2-5 students and a coach register in November. By the following January, the team must write an Innovation Brief, record an Innovation Video, and create a website. Finalists are invited to Houston, TX to compete with other teams in a pitch to the judges.

7. Regeneron STS 

Hosting institution: Science for Society

Format: In-person (Washington, DC)

Application deadline: The 2025 application runs June 1 - November 2024 estimate based on 2024

Only independent, individual research is eligible. Students must present and discuss their project’s data and results in a written research paper. Awards range from $2,000 USD to $250,000 USD.

Start Now to Prepare for the Next Fair

Register to get paired with one of our expert mentors and to get started on exploring your passions today! The next Fair or Competition will be a walk in the park because you will have had a personal mentor help you understand what research can really be!

8. Regeneron ISEF 

Hosting institution: Science for Society

Format: In-person (Los Angeles, CA)

Application deadline: Students must first participate in a local affiliated fair

Students will have done several months of preparation and competition at a Regeneron ISEF affiliated science fair in order to win the privilege to attend Regeneron ISEF. “A Regeneron ISEF-affiliated science fair is a research-based, high school competition that is a member of Society for Science & the Public’s affiliated fair network.” Awards range from $500-75,000 USD.  

Read my recent post for tips on how to be competitive and win at ISEF.

9. USA Biology Olympiad 

Hosting institution: Center for Excellence in Education

Cost: $95 USD registration fee, plus travel expenses

Format: In-person

Application deadline: 2024 registration is closed; 2025 registration is estimated to open in August 2024

Thousands of students undergo two rounds of challenging online exams, resulting in twenty finalists. The finalists then attend a residential training program to further explore advanced biological concepts and learn lab skills at the USABO National Finals. Note: The initial events must be coordinated by the school principal who registers to become a test site administrator.

10. Neuroscience Research Prize

Hosting institution: American Academy of Neurology

Format: Online 

Application deadline: This competition has not yet posted any deadlines

This program encourages high school students to explore neuroscience through research. Only original research along with the original written work of the applicant is permitted. Group projects are not eligible for this competition. Entries are judged by physician and scientist members of the American Academy of Neurology on relevance, creativity, data interpretation, and research reports.

Interested in other opportunities to conduct research as a high school student?

Planning Your Award-Worthy Science Research Project

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