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11 prestigious science competitions for 2014-15

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.
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.
Nancy Griesemer

Each summer, thousands of high school students across the country gain valuable hands-on laboratory experience by interning for a variety of government, academic, 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 and 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 NASA or one of numerous 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 their 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 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 11 of the more prestigious and well-respected competitions:

1. 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. Registration is now open for the 2014 competition, and the deadline for entries is Tuesday, September 30, 2014.

2. Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. High school teams select an environmental topic related to energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation, cleanup and/or air and climate. The top team prize awards equal shares of a $50,000 scholarship. This competition typically opens mid-August and ends the following March.

3. 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 12, 2014.

4. 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.

5. 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 Davidson Fellows application material submission link will open sometime during the summer of 2014.

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 over $5 million in awards. Competition begins at the high school level and culminates at the International Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held May 10-15, 2015, in Pittsburgh, PA.

7. 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.

8. 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. Although this year’s competition is almost over, Google will soon be gearing up for 2015.

9. 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 2015 Challenge will begin this fall. Sign up for the LAUNCH e-letter for updates.

10. 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. Material for the 2015 competition will be available over the summer.

11.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. The 2015 season will begin in September.

The opportunities are pretty amazing for high school students willing to trade time at the beach for time in a lab!