top of page
Post: Blog2_Post

Top 10 Science Fairs to Take Part in as a High School Student

Exploring the world of science fairs offers high school students a platform to showcase their ingenuity and passion for discovery. We have curated a list of ten prestigious science fairs open to high school students in the U.S. These events serve as launching pads for budding scientists, providing an avenue to showcase their ingenuity, curiosity, and dedication to tackling real-world challenges.


The Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) stands as the globe’s biggest pre-college science fair, attracting 1,800+ high school students from 75 countries annually. These young minds showcase their creativity and innovation through self-designed science projects. The journey starts around 4–5 months before the main event. It begins at the high school level, and progresses through regional fairs, culminating in ISEF. Being highly selective, ISEF typically maintains an acceptance rate of 2–5% at qualifying fairs, which can vary across states. 


We’ve covered more on this science competition in our blog here


Eligibility: 

  • Students in grades 9 through 12, under 20 years old by May 1 before ISEF, are eligible.

  • Projects must reflect a maximum of 12 months of continuous research, completed within 18 months before the specific Regeneron ISEF.

  • All project materials and abstracts should be in English.

Subjects: STEM 

Awards: The top winner receives $75,000, with the next top two winners receiving $50,000 each. Student projects earn first place ($5,000), second place ($3,000), and third place ($2,000) awards. Scholarships, sponsored summer internships, and scientific field trips are also awarded. 

Prestige: High

Judging criteria: For science projects, assessment covers the research question, design and methodology, execution, creativity, and presentation. For engineering projects, evaluation includes the research problem, design, construction and testing, creativity, and presentation.

Team formation: Teams are restricted to 3 members, and participation is generally limited to 1 ISEF-affiliated fair unless advancing to a state or national ISEF-affiliated fair.

Timeline: To be announced


MIT Think is a prestigious science fair that caters to students in the early stages of research, focusing on those with a strong background in potential projects. Founded in 2008 by MIT undergraduates, the program aims to advance Technology for Humanity through Innovation, Networking, and Knowledge, led by a team within MIT TechX. Applicants propose a novel idea in science, technology, or engineering. Finalists receive an expenses-covered trip to MIT, mentorship, and project funding. With an annual selection of only 6 finalists, the MIT Think program is highly selective. 


Here’s our ultimate guide to knowing more about this competition.


Eligibility: 

  • Applicants must be full-time high school students (attending public, private, or home school) during the application period. 

  • Permanent U.S. residency is necessary for the 2022–2023 academic year; U.S. citizenship isn’t mandatory, but U.S. citizens residing abroad aren’t eligible. 

  • Each academic year allows only one proposal submission, which can be authored by an individual or a group of two students.

Subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering

Awards: 

  • An all-expenses paid trip to MIT.

  • One-time budget of up to $1000 to implement one’s proposed research project.

  • Weekly mentorship meetings with MIT student mentors.

Prestige: High

Judging criteria: Judges are looking for innovative solutions that significantly advance existing work. The proposal must be clear, coherent, and grounded in reality while considering feasibility within competition constraints. The potential benefits from THINK’s funding and mentorship must be highlighted.

Team formation: Proposals may be written by either an individual or a group of 2 students.

Timeline: Applications — currently open — are due by Jan 1, 2024. Semifinalists will be announced on Jan 30, 2024. Finalists are announced and notified of mentorship from MIT professors and project funding by Feb 5, 2024.


The Envirothon is an academic competition and leadership experience focused on environmental and natural resource conservation for high school students. Students tackle complex environmental challenges and devise innovative solutions. Each year, over 25,000 participants prepare extensively to compete at the NCF-Envirothon international competition. Qualifying teams converge at a six-day event that immerses participants in diverse environmental issues, ecosystems, and landscapes, offering unique learning experiences. This year’s topic is — “How do we balance quality of life and quality of the environment?” 


Learn more about how to win Envirothon in our breakdown here


Eligibility: 

  • Participants must be in high school (grades 9–12) between ages 14–19.

  • Students from the United States, Canada, China, and Singapore may participate.

Subjects: Aquatic ecology, forestry, soils and land use, wildlife, and current environmental issues.

Awards: Scholarships, prizes, and accolades.

Prestige: High

Judging criteria: Teams undergo training and testing in 5 subject areas: Aquatic Ecology, Forestry, Soils/Land Use, Wildlife, and Current Environmental Issues. Additionally, there’s an Oral Presentation component. The scores from these 6 components are combined to determine the final team ranking and award recipients.

Team formation: Each team of 5 students, from the same school or youth organization, must be sponsored by a state/provincial/partner nation Envirothon representative. 

Timeline: The 2024 NCF-Envirothon International Competition will be held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York from July 28, 2024  —  August 3, 2024.


Young minds worldwide can delve into entrepreneurship and innovation across stem subject areas in the 2024 Conrad Challenge. The highly prestigious challenge was founded in honor of a late NASA astronaut, Charles “Pete” Conrad, the third person to walk on the moon. This Challenge empowers students to tackle global issues using science, tech, and innovation. With expert guidance, participants hone collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills, preparing for college and the modern workforce. The 2022–23 Conrad Challenge saw a record-breaking 2,800 students from 50 countries participating.


We’ve covered details on how to win the Conrad Challenge in our guide here


Eligibility:

  • High school students from 13–18.

Subjects: Aerospace & Aviation, Cyber-Technology & Security, Energy & Environment, and Health & Nutrition.

Awards: Cash prizes, and other awards.

Prestige: High

Judging criteria: Globally acknowledged for its stringent judging standards, the challenge assesses entries based on their innovation, feasibility, and potential impact.

Team formation: Participants can join individually or in teams of up to 5 members, with each team requiring an adult mentor to oversee and support their efforts. While the competition typically involves an entry fee of $499, the Challenge offers financial assistance to teams in need.

Timeline: To be announced


The Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) remains the oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for US high school seniors. It offers a platform not only for presenting original research but also for demonstrating broad expertise in STEM fields. The selection process evaluates multiple components, including test scores, recommendations, and essay responses, to gauge overall scientific and academic aptitude. Each year, approximately 1,900 students take part in STS.



Eligibility: 

  • US residents in their final year of secondary school and US citizens abroad are eligible for application regardless of citizenship. However, non-US citizen students attending American schools abroad are ineligible.

  • While most who meet these criteria are eligible, further details on eligibility can be found here for a comprehensive understanding.

Subjects: Science

Awards: Each of the 300 scholars in Regeneron STS will receive a $2,000 award for exceptional research. Out of these, the 40 finalists are awarded a minimum of $25,000 each. The top 10 finalists receive prizes ranging from $40,000 for 10th place to $250,000 for the first-place winner.

Prestige: High

Judging criteria: Only independent research is accepted, requiring completed investigations and results.

Team formation: Only independent, individual research is eligible. Students must have completed an independent scientific investigation and have results to report.

Timeline: Applications for the 2024 cycle are now closed, but are expected to open in June 2024 for the 2025 cycle.


The National Science Bowl is a dynamic academic contest in the US where thousands of high school students annually showcase their scientific expertise across various topics, from biology to astronomy. Sponsored by the Department of Energy, it aims to foster national scientific excellence. Featuring a quiz-show style with buzzer challenges, the competition emphasizes teamwork, research skills, and a passion for science. Starting from regional and state levels, winning teams progress to the prestigious national finals in Washington, D.C. Since 1991, this event has inspired a deep appreciation for science among students nationwide.


Learn more about this science fair in our guide here.


Eligibility: Open to all middle and high school students in the U.S.

Subjects: All scientific subjects from physics and ecology to chemistry and trigonometry.

Awards: Trophies, scholarships, and other honors

Prestige: High

Judging criteria: The competition is designed to be fast-paced and buzzer-based, so it is important to be able to quickly and accurately answer questions. It is important to work well with your teammates and to communicate effectively. 

Team formation: Each team must consist of 4 students, 1 alternate, and 1 adult mentor, and they must be from the same school.

Timeline: From February to March, various institutions will be hosting regional science bowls, where the winner will advance to the national competition held in Washington D.C. in late April — May. 


The AAN Neuroscience Research Prize acknowledges exceptional high schoolers exploring the brain and nervous system through research. It awards students and supportive teachers for their remarkable contributions to neuroscience. With a highly competitive nature, winning this prize demands rigorous research efforts. Recipients get the chance to present their work at AAN Annual Meetings and engage with industry neuroscientists. We’ve broken down all you need to know about the AAN Research Prize here


Eligibility:

  • Students must be enrolled in secondary school (grades 9–12) in the U.S., regardless of age.

  • Applications must represent original research as well as the original written work of the applicant.

  • Projects do not need to occur in formal or traditional lab settings.

  • Each project should be the work of an individual student.

  • Family members of the judges, the AAN Science Committee, or the AAN staff are not eligible to apply.

Subjects: Neuroscience

Awards: $1000 prize, the sponsored opportunity to present their work during a scientific poster session at the next AAN Annual Meeting in a different city, and the sponsored opportunity to present one’s work at the 2023 Child Neurology Society Annual Meeting.

Prestige: High

Judging criteria: 

  1. Investigate brain or nervous system-related problems, avoiding standalone psychology projects unless linked to neurophysiology.

  2. Prioritize original problem-solving approaches.

  3. Present well-organized research reports with readable figures/tables, addressing potential pitfalls in methodology and interpretation.

Team formation: Only individual submissions are accepted. No team projects are eligible. Teachers are encouraged to guide as needed but must allow each student to demonstrate their creativity.

Timeline: To be announced


In this unique challenge, teams conduct a global science experiment using a soil simulant to explore crop growth in lunar or Martian conditions. Along with the 5kg bag of soil simulant, teams receive a pH meter, ten KN95 masks, ten pots, and access to the PTMC guide. Being highly competitive, the challenge is expected to engage more than 13,000 students in the next three years. Following 10 weeks, teams submit project reports, contributing to research on sustainable food sources for space missions. All participants are invited to a virtual symposium with NASA scientists.


Eligibility: High school students from all over the world can participate.

Subject: Biosciences

Awards: Best in Show Awards

Prestige: High

Team formation: A single team represents a maximum of 10 students. While there is no minimum number of team members required to participate, teams tend to be more successful with at least 2–3 participants. Team registration fee of $405 covering up to 10 students and one kit. The cost of any supplemental materials used by teams is not covered.

Judging criteria: The challenge centers on the scientific method and design process, structured into four steps: Research, Design, Plant & Monitor, and Analyze & Present, and will be judged accordingly. 

Timeline: December 19, 2023 (international registration closes), January 14, 2024 (normal registration closes).


The Congressional App Challenge, initiated in 2013, is a highly prestigious opportunity that encourages US students to develop and submit apps for various platforms. It provides a platform for young innovators to showcase coding and problem-solving skills, gaining recognition from Congress members. With over 9,000 students and 2,000+ apps created, and supported by 300+ Congress members, it serves as a bipartisan innovation platform. Organized by congressional districts, winners chosen by their respective Congressperson are invited to Washington D.C., connecting with peers, and representatives, and gaining national exposure.



Eligibility: Open to middle school and high school students who are either U.S. citizens or legal residents, and who reside in a congressional district that is participating in the competition.

Subjects: App Design, Coding

Awards: Each winner is invited to Washington D.C. and the Capitol Building, connecting with other coders, congressional representatives, and local, regional, and national publicity. 

Prestige: High

Judging criteria: Apps will be judged based on:

  1. Quality of the idea (including creativity and originality)

  2. Implementation of the idea (including user experience and design)

  3. Demonstrated excellence in coding and programming skills.

Team formation: Students may participate individually or in teams of up to 4 members, and they must have a teacher, mentor, or supervisor who can provide guidance and support throughout the app development process.

Timeline: The preparation phase can begin in April when student pre-registration begins. The official competition starts in June — November for completing your app and submitting it.


The Genius Olympiad, a global high school project competition, honors innovative solutions addressing environmental issues. Hosted at the Rochester Institute of Technology, it encompasses five disciplines, emphasizing an environmental focus across STEM and non-STEM categories such as science, robotics, writing, business, art, music, and short films. In 2023, it anticipated hosting around 750 projects, presented by approximately 1,300 students, with an acceptance rate of 50%.



Eligibility: 

  • Open to all international and U.S. students studying in grades 9–12 (between 13–17 years of age).

  • Each student may present only one project. In the case of being a finalist for multiple projects, the applicant must choose which project to present. A maximum of two students may present a science, business, or short film project.

Subjects: Science, robotics, coding, writing, business, art, music, and short films. All projects must have an environmental focus.

Awards: Medals. All finalists receive a scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology upon admission, ranging from $25,000 to $10,000, based on their finalist status.

Prestige: Moderate

Judging criteria: Each project category has its judging criteria. Expect the judges to evaluate your presentation skills, and judge you on the project design, scientific method deployed, and data management.

Team formation: Each project can have a team of up to 2 people.

Timeline: Submit Applications by March 1, 2024. Participant registration by May 1, 2024. Finals on June 10–14, 2024.



For those eyeing prestigious science fairs like Regeneron ISEF, mentorship plays a pivotal role. The Lumiere Research Scholar Program offers a unique opportunity to work one-on-one with a leading Ph.D. researcher, crafting a remarkable research project of your own. This program pairs you directly with an expert in your field, along with dedicated team support geared toward excelling in such competitions — here’s the application form!


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1–1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: ISEF logo

1,381 views
bottom of page