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STEM Competitions for High School Students

Many STEM competitions require students to apply their knowledge outside of classroom concepts. Coding, robotics, chemistry knowledge, and game design are all potential competition topics. Additionally, most competitions also make scholarships and prizes available to successful participants. 

Here are six of the best STEM competitions for high school students. 

1. The Science Olympiad

The Science Olympiad is a challenging competition that hosts tournaments in all 50 states. Each year, the top 120 teams receive invitations to the national competition. Each team of 15 students competes in 23 different events in various STEM topics. These events range from meteorology to health and engineering. Teamwork and collaboration are essential traits in Olympians.

Winners receive scholarships and other awards. Often, universities will offer scholarships to winners in addition to their prizes. For example, in 2010, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offered a full scholarship to all gold medalists. 

To participate, students must apply to one of the 7,600 local chapters. 

2. The National Science Bowl

The National Science Bowl is sponsored by the US Department of Energy Office of Science. This annual competition tests knowledge in all areas of STEM including mathematics, space, and energy. Each team is composed of 4 students from the same school. Teams compete in a live event where a fast pace is important. 

The top two teams nationwide win trips to visit a National Park and the top three individual students win personal awards. The top 16 students nationwide win awards for their school. 

To participate, the student’s school must host a team with an advisor and at least five interested students. 

3. The Intel International Engineering and Science Fair

The Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international science competition for high school students. Millions of students participate for the 1800 spots at the fair. Those selected compete for $5 million in prizes. Winners receive scholarships, internships, or laboratory equipment. 

Students can compete in 22 different areas of STEM. The fair is divided into regional and national competitions. Winners will ultimately make it to the international stage. 


This competition is highly prestigious and requires ingenuity. Previous winners have designed novel battery technology, robotic window cleaners, or 3D printed medical diagnostic tools. 

To take part, students must participate in a local competition. Each society may have unique requirements for competitors. 

4. The Google Science Fair

The Google Science Fair challenges students to solve problems in creative ways. Participants are required to submit a project in an area ranging from the environment to food and health. As with many other competitions, students first compete regionally. Sixteen finalists then attend the final tournament at Google headquarters in California. Each of the 16 wins a prize with a grand prize of a $50,000 scholarship. 

Each project should be an investigation of a question in one of the categories or a solution to a problem. Past winners have designed sensors to see if someone with Alzheimer’s is wandering at night, developed a flashlight that does not need a battery, and created a device for monitoring malaria in the field. 

The Fair opens each year in early September and submissions are due by mid-December. Students can either participate solo or part of a small team. 

5. The USA Mathematical Talent Search

The USAMTS is open to middle and high school students nationwide. The competition consists of three problem sets and students have one month to work on each. Each problem requires research and a detailed written proof of the solution. 

The problems are designed to challenge students and require innovative problem-solving skills. Past problems include topics like number theory and advanced geometry.

While there are no scholarship prizes for participants, students who do well are eligible for books and software. USAMTS also recommends students who perform well to the USA Mathematical Olympiad team. 

6. LEGO FIRST Tech Challenge

The FIRST Tech Challenge is open to teams of ten or more middle and high school students. Participants design and program a robot to play against other student designs. Teams take their robots from regional to national competitions. In the time between each competition, students are allowed and encouraged to update their designs. 

Students must program the robots using Java or another Android programming system. This competition is beneficial for students interested in programming, robotics, or design. Working in a team also encourages collaboration and allows each student to focus on what they excel in to build the best product. 

Each team must pay a $275 registration fee. This covers access to discounted parts, manuals, guides, and other material to help in robot design. Factoring in a complete parts set and travel, the average cost per team is $2,250. However, all parts are reusable so veteran teams will have a lower cost.

There is a range of prizes available for participants. Merit-based scholarships are available for veterans and can be applied to separately. Teams can also win awards based on their design, teamwork, programming, following the scientific method and more.

Participating in competitions is an excellent way for students to showcase their knowledge. Participation demonstrates hard work and the ability to work towards something outside of school. These traits and others are highly sought after by colleges. 

These are some of the most well-known STEM competitions for high school students. However, there are many other global, national, state, and regional STEM competitions for high school students. And, if you are looking to prepare your student for competition day, Stutorialz tutors are ready to coach you with your project and One-on-one tutoring can accelerate your student’s preparation and make them competition ready. 

Stutorialz - A Virtual Tutoring Centre for High school Math and Sciences.

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