Competitions can benefit high-school and middle-school students in numerous ways. They are excellent for helping students to realize their potential and be rewarded for their passion in a subject area. Not only do they teach students to strive for excellence, but also these awards are great resume builders for college applications. Plus, students will also get to build relationships with peers who share their passion for STEM. So, what are some meaningful awards for high school students to apply for, as well as some for middle schoolers? Read on to find out.

Discover awards for high school and middle school students to apply for

The awards for these competitions vary from cash prizes to paid trips and more.

1. Broadcom MASTERS

This competition recognizes students who have created the best science fair projects nationwide. To be eligible, students must be nominated at a Society for Science affiliated fair, and then apply online to compete to be a finalist. Prizes include national recognition, as well as eligibility for cash prizes as well.

Grades: 6-8

2. Intel Science Fair

This competition is designed to promote student research at the high school level. Students who compete at ISEF science fair are eligible to compete in the competition, which awards cash prizes first to fourth places in twenty one total categories. Because students can earn awards in a distinct category, it’s a great way to earn recognition within a specific STEM field, which will help with getting into competitive college programs.

Grades: 9-12

3. MIT THINK Scholars

MIT’s THINK program is different from other competitions in that students submit their idea for a project rather than results of a research project. Selected applicants can then work with current MIT undergraduates to bring their research ideas to life. This program is a fantastic opportunity for students to have an introduction to the research process at a university level. Students who have a specific project they want to research, but want some guidance through the process, should consider applying to this competition.

Grades: 9-12

4. Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing

Each year, the Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing nationally recognizes four outstanding seniors who have created a computer program that engages modern computer science principles. Winners are awarded a $10,000 scholarship towards their college education. This competition is for students who will be studying computer science in college, and is an excellent opportunity for getting recognition for personal programming projects.

Grades: 12

5. Microsoft Imagine Cup

Unlike other competitions in this list, the Microsoft Imagine Cup is an international competition. For this competition, individuals or teams of up to four are required to design software that addresses one of four categories: Earth, Education, Health, or Lifestyle. Students will advance through three rounds, starting with a local round, a regional round, and then the world finals. Since it is an official Microsoft competition, students can win introductory credits for Microsoft Azure, which will provide students a chance to experiment with cloud computing.

Ages: 16+

6. Congressional App Challenge

For the Congressional App Challenge, students can create an app using any programming language and targeted device platform. Students can be as creative as they want, since there are no requirements for the theme or topic for the app. Apps can be created by either a team of up to 4 students, or students can work alone. Beginning app designers should definitely try this one out! We offer live online Congressional App Challenge classes led by an expert to help mentor students through this challenge.

Each of our mentor groups meets for 5 sessions, including 1 session per week. We bring students through the entire process of identifying real-world problems, designing the overall app, planning out the steps, and building the app step by step. Our teacher also helps students resolve any coding challenges they might run into during the development process.

Grades: 6-12

7. Spellman Clean Tech Competition

Students with a passion for sustainability should definitely check out the Spellman Clean Tech Competition. For their submission, students will research an issue, explain its impact on society, and propose a solution to this problem. The top four winners are awarded cash prizes, and thirty total teams will be nationally recognized as semi finalists. This competition is a fantastic opportunity to attempt to address problems in the real world!

Ages: 15-18

Awards for high school students to apply for

From scholarships to recognition and resume building, there are plenty of reasons for high school students to apply for awards. And if these awards don’t seem like a good fit, there are many other competitions beyond what is on this list. Of course, there is more to building a college application than awards. Check out leadership activities for high school students for more ideas. And if you’re looking for ways to improve your STEM skills, try an online course in programming such as Create & Learn’s free introduction to Accelerated Scratch, designed by experts from Google, Stanford, and MIT.

Written by Create & Learn instructor Dominic Occhietti. Dominic is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he studied music performance and computer science. He thoroughly enjoys teaching, whether that be coding classes, French horn lessons, or even downhill skiing lessons!