Oct 21, 2015

12 prestigious science competitions for 2015-16

Each year, thousands of high school students across the country gain valuable hands-on laboratory and research experience by interning for a variety of academic, government and nonprofit organizations engaged in scientific research.

Locally, high school interns may be found in George Mason’s Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program (ASSIP) or in one of the two Science & Engineering Apprenticeship Programs (SEAP’s) sponsored by George Washington University, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Navy. They may also be found at NIST, NASA or one of many summer programs offered by the National Institutes of Health.

While they vary in terms of content and work experience, each of these internships supports opportunities to explore science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Students meet and interact with scientists, learn lab skills, conduct research, and possibly publish or patent findings.

In fact, some programs encourage students to present research at poster sessions or similar scientific forums where they gain self-confidence, improve writing skills, and potentially earn credentials important to colleges and universities as well as future employers.  They also lay the groundwork for undergraduate research assignments as well as admission to post graduate studies in medical schools or PhD programs.

And many young researchers turn their summer experiences into competitive science projects and vie for hundreds of thousands in scholarship dollars offered annually by organizations supporting the goals of STEM education.

Here are 12 of the more prestigious and well-respected competitions:
  1. AAN Neuroscience Research Prize. Students investigating problems concerning the brain or the nervous system are invited to compete for monetary prizes as well as all expenses paid trips to the AAN 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, to present their work during a scientific poster session.  Applications are due October 28, 2016.
  2. Davidson Fellows. This prestigious scholarship annually awards up to $50,000 to students, 18 and under, who have completed a “significant” piece of work in one of eight categories including Engineering, Mathematics, Science, Literature, Music, Technology, Philosophy, and Outside the Box. The 2016 application will launch this November.
  3. DuPont Challenge. This competition is designed for science students at least 13 years of age who can craft an original 700 to 1000 word science-related essay. Students are judged on their ideas, as well as on writing style, organization, style and creativity, as well as voice. The Official Entry Form will be active starting November 15, 2015 until January 31, 2016.
  4. ExploraVision.  Jointly sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), ExploraVision encourages collaboration by restricting the competition to group projects.  Although all participants win gifts and discounts, the top four teams receive US Savings Bonds worth $10,000 for each student.  All projects must be received by Wednesday, February 1, 2016.

  5. Google Science Fair. Beginning with online submissions, this competition invites young scientists from all over the world to compete for up to $50,000 in scholarships as well as a trip to the Galapagos Islands sponsored by National Geographic.  Finalists are invited to Google Headquarters to present their projects before expert judges.  To receive information on the 2016 competition, sign-up on the Google Science Fair website.
  6. Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, providing an annual forum for over 1,700 high school students from countries all over the world who compete for approximately $4 million in awards.  Competition begins at the high school level and culminates at the International Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held May 8-13, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona.
  7. Intel Science Talent Search. The Intel STS invites the nation’s best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists. Open only to high school seniors, 40 finalists are selected to come to Washington DC and compete for the top award of $100,000. This year’s competition is also now open, with all parts of the application due by 8 pm EST, November 11, 2015 (transcripts and recommendations are due November 4, 2015).
  8. 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. Information on the 2016 BioGENius Challenges should be available very soon.
  9. Microsoft Imagine Cup.  Microsoft offers three main competitions—Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship—through which teams come up with original technology projects involving software or a combination of software and hardware.  First place teams win $50,000 and all World Finalist teams win a trip to Seattle. Note that The Big Idea: Plan deadline is October 28 at 23:59 GMT.

  10. MIT THINK Scholars Program.  The THINK Scholars program is an initiative that promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics by supporting and funding projects developed by high school students. Finalists receive all-expenses paid trips to MIT to attend XFair (MIT’s spring tech symposium) and winners receive funding to build their projects.  Applications are due January 1, 2016.

  11. National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Individual students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Regional scholarships as well as seven national top awards of up to $12,000 and an all-expense paid trip to London are among the prizes available.  Different regions/states run on different schedules, but this year’s National JSHS is scheduled for April 27-30, 2016.
  12. Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. Since 1999, the Siemens Foundation, has provided young scientists with opportunities to win scholarships ranging up to $100,000 for original research in team and individual categories.  The 2015 competition is currently in progress, and the 2015 class of regional finalists was recently announced.
The opportunities are pretty amazing for high school students willing to devote some time to research!

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