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STEM Competitions & Fairs

Links on CCSTEM Resource pages to other websites are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement by CCSTEM.  Please submit corrections and/or suggestions for additions to Resources Coordinator Walter Reil.

Note:  As of early 2013, watch for news of a new Congressional STEM Competition.


STEM Competitions


American Chemical Society Chemistry Olympiad .
The U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad and the International Chemistry Olympiad are multi-tiered competitions that bring together the world’s most talented high school students to test their knowledge and skills in chemistry. Nations around the world conduct examinations to — nominate the most high-performing students for the International Chemistry Olympiad.

Aspire Science Competition .
The Aspire Science Competition is an annual research competition established by the TAMS Research Organization to foster interest in science, promote research, and offer students national recognition for excellence in research. The competition is open to students in the United States in grades nine through twelve who have completed an individual or team research project. Students are required to concisely explain their scientific research in an paper.  An entry consists of a short project description, an abstract, and a research report or proposal. Project descriptions and abstracts will be judged first, before the research report. The research report is an eight page paper that should cover the problem or question being examined (and the importance of this problem), materials and methods used to solve the problem, results and their interpretation, and conclusions. Students may also submit a research proposal, which includes the same content as the research report except the results, their interpretation, and conclusions. To replace the omitted sections, students should address how data may be analyzed.

Biotechnology Institute International BioGENEius Challenge .
This competition is designed to recognize outstanding research in biotechnology. Finalists showcase their talent and research before a prestigious panel of expert biotech judges and have the opportunity to win up to $7,500 in cash awards.

Central Coast Robotics .

Central Coast VEX Robotics Competition / VEX Robotics .

Davidson Institute Fellows Scholarship Program .
The Davidson Fellows Scholarship awards $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people, 18 and under, who have completed a significant piece of work. Application categories are Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Literature, Music, Philosophy and Outside the Box. Davidson Fellows are honored every year in Washington, D.C. with Congressional meetings and a special reception.

Discovery Education 3M “Young Scientist Challenge” .
Discovery Education and 3M are looking for students in grades 5-8 who are enthusiastic about science. The top 10 students will receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN to compete for the chance to win $25,000!

DuPont Challenge .
The DuPont Challenge asks students to consider our most important challenges by researching and writing a 700-1,000-word science essay in one of the four categories:
– Together, we can feed the world.
– Together, we can build a secure energy future.
– Together, we can protect people and the environment.
– Together, we can be innovative anywhere.
The first three categories reflect the global challenges on which DuPont as a company focuses its efforts. The fourth category opens up possibilities for students to address other important topics, using scientific research to solve issues that can range from medicine and health to mathematical computation to any science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topic that students are passionate about.

eCYBERMISSION is a web-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) competition free for students in grades six through nine where teams can compete for State, Regional and National Awards while working to solve problems in their community.

FIRST Robotics .
— Arroyo Grande High School Eagle Robotics Team 1388 .
— Atascadero High School Greybots Team 973 .
— Goleta Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy D’Penquineers Team 1717 .
— Orcutt Academy Spartatronics Team 3512 .
– FIRST Tech Challenge .  for children in grade’s 7-12
– FIRST LEGO League .  for children age’s 9-14
– Junior FIRST LEGO League .  for children age’s 6-9

Future City Competition .
The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity™ 4 Deluxe software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges at Regional Competitions in January. Regional winners represent their region at the National Finals in Washington, DC in February.

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair .
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, provides an annual forum for more than 1,500 high school students from over 70 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research as they compete for more than $3 million annually.  The Intel ISEF is the premier global science competition for students in grades 9–12.

Intel Science Talent Search .
Each year, more than 1,700 seniors attending American high schools conduct original research projects and present their work in the country’s oldest, most prestigious pre-college science competition: the Intel Science Talent Search, a program of Society of Science & the Public. Forty of these young innovators are chosen as finalists and invited to participate in a nearly week-long event in Washington, D.C., where they compete for over USD 1.25 million in awards and scholarships.

Junior Science & Humanities Symposia .
JSHS is designed to challenge and engage students in grades 9-12 in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Individual students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research efforts before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Includes hands-on workshops, panel discussions, career exploration, research lab visits and networking.

NASA Exploration Design Challenge .
The Exploration Design Challenge is for K-12 students to research and design ways to protect astronauts from space radiation. NASA and Lockheed Martin are developing the Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and on to an asteroid or Mars. Protecting astronauts from radiation on these distant travels is an important — and very real — problem that needs solving. NASA would like your help!

NASA Great Moon Buggy Race .
High school and college students are required to design a vehicle that addresses a series of engineering problems that are similar to problems faced by the original Moonbuggy team.  Each Moonbuggy will be human powered and carry two students, one female and one male, over a half-mile simulated lunar terrain course including “craters”, rocks, “lava” ridges, inclines and “lunar” soil.

National Ocean Sciences Bowl / California Regional Areas .
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, representing leading oceanographic institutions universities and aquaria, manages a national academic competition for high schools on topics related to the study of the oceans — the National Ocean Sciences Bowl® (NOSB). The NOSB is a nationally recognized and highly acclaimed high school academic competition that provides a forum for talented students to test their knowledge of the marine sciences including biology, chemistry, physics, and geology. The NOSB was created in 1998 in honor of the International Year of the Ocean and since its inception, the competition has grown to include 25 regional competition locations with 300 schools and over 2,000 students participating annually.

Nipomo High School Titan (VEX) Robotics .

Odyssey of the Mind .
An international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.

Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition .
MATHCOUNTS heightens student interest in mathematics by making math achievement challenging and exciting.  At the beginning of each school year, the MATHCOUNTS Foundation provides a complimentary copy of the MATHCOUNTS School Handbook to every middle school across the country.  Teachers and volunteers use the handbook and activities to coach student Mathletes®, as part of in-class instruction or as an extracurricular activity.  Business and industry partners provide schools with coaches for the Mathletes and assist in coordinating competitions.  They also host local MATHCOUNTS activities, such as workshops for teachers, minority outreach programs and public awareness events to encourage participation and promote the importance of mathematics.

Siemens Foundation Competition: Math, Science, Technology .
The Siemens Competition seeks to promote excellence by encouraging students to undertake individual or team research projects.  It fosters intensive research that improves students’ understanding of the value of scientific study and informs their consideration of future careers in these disciplines.  Participants can compete as an individual or as a member of a team.  Individual projects promote independent research. Team projects foster collaborative research efforts, as well as individual contributions to the cooperative endeavor.  Scholarships for winning projects range from $1,000 to $100,000.

Southern California State Science Olympiad .
The Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of individual and team events which students prepare for during the year. The competitions follow the format of popular board games, TV shows and athletic games.  These challenging and motivational events are balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers and technology. They require knowledge of science facts, concepts, processes, skills and science applications. In addition, during the day there are open house activities that consist of science and mathematics demonstrations, activities and career counseling sessions conducted by professors and scientists at the host institution.

Technology Student Association STEM Integration Competitions .
TSA competitions provide a hands-on venue for learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. By participating in TSA’s competitive events, students gain a broader understanding of these specific content areas, and at the same time experience the satisfaction that comes from applying them to real-life problem solving situations.  TSA competitions align with national standards for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Science Competition .
Encouraging K – 12 students to imagine what technology might be like in the future. ExploraVision helps teacher sponsors meet many of the National Science Education Standards while letting students experience scientific process and discovery in an engaging, hands-on way. Let’s empower the next generation of inventors, scientists and leaders.

U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl .
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl is a nationwide academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in all areas of science. High school and middle school students are quizzed in a fast paced question-and-answer format similar to Jeopardy. Competing teams from diverse backgrounds are comprised of four students, one alternate, and a teacher who serves as an advisor and coach.

USA Science & Engineering Festival .
The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a national grassroots effort to advance STEM education and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Exhibitors, performers, speakers, partners, sponsors and advisors are a who-is-who of science and engineering in the United States: from major academic centers and leading research institutes and government agencies to cutting-edge high tech companies, museums and community organizations.


STEM Fairs


California State Science Fair .
Hosted by the California Science Center, the California State Science Fair is the final science fair of the academic year for students throughout the State of California in grades 6 – 12, serving California’s future scientists since 1952.

Central California Regional Science, Math & Engineering Fair .
The Central Valley Regional Science, Math and Engineering Fair is an annual competition for students in grades 6-12. The Fair provides an opportunity for discourse among like-minded, high-achieving middle and high school students across the Central Valley. The Fair fosters an interest in and an excitement about science, mathematics and engineering while offering a rewarding competitive setting in which students can showcase their research projects and set the stage for the rest of their academic careers.

Google Science Fair .
The Google Science Fair is an online science competition open to students ages 13-18 from around the globe. We’re looking for ideas that will change the world.

Intel – International Science and Engineering Fair .
Intel ISEF, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, provides an annual forum for more than 1,500 high school students from about 70 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research as they compete for over $3 million annually. The Intel ISEF is the premier global science competition for students in grades 9–12.

Maker Faire .
Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.  Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.
– Maker Faire California – Bay Area .
Maker Faire California – San Luis Obispo Mini Maker Faire .

San Francisco Bay Area Science Fair .

Santa Barbara County Science Fair .

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