Science fairs for kids have come a long way from showcasing vinegar and baking soda volcanoes. In keeping pace with evolving trends in STEM, technology, and science innovation, kids joining science fairs today can be challenged to work on projects in robotics, software development, AI, and engineering. And that’s not to cast any shade on vinegar volcanoes!
Kids, parents, and educators who attend science fairs, whether at the State, National, or International levels can be challenged to use their ingenuity to build cool projects, flex their problem solving skills, and boost their creative and critical thinking. A lifetime’s inspiration for scientific thinking can begin with a single spark, and events like science fairs for kids are designed by top educators to light the candle of knowledge for the kids of today who will be the scientists of their generation.
What’s more is that in today’s virtual environment, many science fairs for kids take place virtually, offer digital events, or provide educational opportunities for kids alongside in-person science fairs. Join live online science camps this summer to get ready for upcoming fairs, including Quantum Frontiers, rocket camp, space exploration camp, atom secrets, electromagnetism camp, and more.
Discover science fairs for kids to enter
This list should help you find an event for your classroom if you’re an educator, or an extra challenge for the intrepid scientist kids of any parents who might be interested. We have broken them down for you by age, though keep in mind that some serve a wide range of ages, and some are localized in certain states or countries.
Science fairs for elementary kids
The festival’s mission is to inspire and promote science, technology, engineering, and math to the nation’s youth by sponsoring events throughout the year in nearly every state. They promote science using material that has a high entertainment value while remaining scientifically sound, and they are driven by the goal to provide these services free of charge or of minimal cost to lower systemic barriers to academic achievement. Events include conferences and interactive exhibits for kids to enjoy.
Dates: Several events throughout the year
2. 2022 Elementary Science Fair Competition
This Science Fair competition is for students in New York City, Suffolk and Nassau Counties in southern New York State. Students K-5 can compete both as representatives of their school as well as homeschooled students. Student projects are judged on originality of design, scientific rigor, and creativity.
Dates: The deadline for 2022 just passed, but keep in mind that the contest is yearly and ends in April. The Science Fair takes place virtually in early November.
Prize: All students win prizes ranging from ribbons to medals. No cash prizes.
3. Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI)
This international online competition offers students in grades 4-12 curriculum and events to learn and apply problem solving skills through critical and creative thinking! Events are available for all students in elementary, middle and high school, and students work in teams to solve problems that future generations may encounter. Students use a variety of means to help promote change and to inspire and educate others, so students with a more creative side might be interested in performance while there are also writing opportunities and more traditional science fair like events.
Dates: The 2022 event will be held both virtually and in-person at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from June 8-12, 2022
4. Fluor Challenge
A hands-on engineering contest that challenges students to complete a fun task (such as shooting an aluminum foil ball as far as possible) using limited resources (such as pencils, paper, paper clips, plastic cups and rubber bands). The contest is open to students K–12; both individuals or teams up to 4 students are welcome.
Dates: The 2022 competition has concluded, but all of their past challenges are still available to try for fun!
Prize: Ten teams are drawn at random for $1,000 prizes for their schools!
5. The Bay Area Science Festival
Students of all ages in the San Francisco area can join this long-standing tradition of science education. Students and educators are encouraged to take part in a huge selection of events sponsored by the regions top companies and universities, which include UC Berkeley, Stanford, as well as some of the largest tech companies in the country. The festival also sponsors free, open to all events called Discovery Days where students of all ages can come together to check out cool experiments.
Dates: The festival concluded in April 2022, but their website keeps people up to date on future events.
Science fairs for middle school kids
Middle school science buffs should check out these Science fairs. Some are specific to certain places, but others are open to students anywhere in the world.
The Broadcom Masters is the largest national competition for middle school students in the United States. To qualify for this competition, students must first present their work at one of many regional science fairs affiliated with the tournament. For finding a regional fair in your area, they have this helpful tool as well as a variety of resources to educate and inspire kids.
Dates: 2022 applications are open until June 15 for the competition at the end of October.
Prize: Finalists of a local science fair who are nominated for the competition win $500 and a free trip for themselves and one parent or guardian to Washington D.C. to compete at nationals where there are hundreds of prizes ranging from gift cards to a $25,000 top prize.
The IRIS National Fair is a public-private partnership program funded by Broadcom and the Department of Science & Technology (DST) of the government of India, providing students in the subcontinent a chance to compete at one of the most prestigious international science fairs in the United States. IRIS nurtures Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research by young Indian students. The IRIS National Fair is conducted annually in India for school students, who compete in 21 subject categories. Winners of the IRIS National Fair go on to represent India at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in USA. As of 2021, almost 300 Indian students have participated in ISEF and have won 177 awards and accolades at this unique international event.
Dates: The competition takes place in January each year.
Prize: Winners get a paid trip to the USA where they can compete for many prizes at ISEF.
This is the final science fair for students throughout the State of California in grades 6 - 12, serving California's future scientists and engineers since 1952. The fair is hosted by the California Science Center. This year there were 854 participants from 343 schools throughout the State who presented 720 projects in competition for awards totaling over $60,000.
Dates: The yearly fair is held in April
Prizes: A total pool of $60,000 divided among top teams.
9. National American Indian Science and Engineering Fair
NAISEF is an annual event for 5th to 12th grade students. The NAISEF is an affiliated fair with the Society for Science and the Public (SSP) affiliated science fair and is part of the larger SSP fair network. The NAISEF offers both in person and virtual support for participants and aims to promote educational standards and academic opportunities for students from an indigenous background.
Dates: Proposals are due by March for the competition in May
Prizes: AISES awards prizes to senior and junior division winners. As well as, awards travel and registration stipends for the Senior Division Grand Award winners and their sponsors to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair.
This is a great competition to help boost students up to grade 8 to boost their science knowledge! Whereas attendance at most national competitions requires success at a pre-qualifying regional event, anyone can register and participate in the National Science Bee, where students compete against their peers in a series of quizzes.
Dates: Registration is open in November!
Prize: Past awards have included $1,500 worth of total prizes.
Science fairs for high school kids
These represent some of the most competitive science fairs for youth in the world, as well as some major prizes.
X-STEM All Access is an online conference sponsored by the USA Science and Engineering Festival in partnership with the US Air Force and the Discovery Channel. X-STEM All Access is a free virtual conference series designed to encourage middle and high school students to pursue education and careers in science.
Students will receive insight into the personal journeys of diverse STEM role models through a lively Q&A session with leaders from the STEM community. The 30-minute episodes will show throughout the school year and can be ordered on demand to give everyone a chance to enjoy.
Dates: Episodes premiere at 10am PT/1pm ET on the following dates – or watch on-demand any time after! April 27 | May 18 | September 21 | October 5 | October 19 | November 9 | December 14
For students 7-12 in Canada, the weeklong Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) is held yearly and it brings together the country’s top young scientists from middle school to college. It’s been held every year since 1962, except 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
In addition to scientific, social, and cultural activities, finalists compete for medals, cash prizes, and academic scholarships.The 2022 competition will take place virtually, and budding scientists are welcomed to attend online from anywhere in the world.
Dates: In 2022, the CWSF will be virtual from May 16-20.
Prize: Different prizes ranging from medals to scholarships.
The 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair is a yearly competition held in the USA. It will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, between May 7 and 13. Sponsored by major industry leaders in STEM, Regeneron ISEF welcomes teams of top-tier twelfth graders from around the world to compete for nearly $8 million in cash and scholarship prizes. Regeneron ISEF will be held as a hybrid event with a judged competition and distribution of Grand and Special awards for in-person and virtual finalists.
Dates: May 7 - 13, 2022
Prize: The winning team will receive $5,000 each, though there are tons of other prizes totaling about $4 million yearly.
14. The Modeling the Future Challenge
While more of a competition than a fair, the Modeling the Future Challenge is a real-world chance for high school students to utilize math-modeling, data-analysis, and risk-management in an exciting challenge! To compete, students design and complete a research project modeling real-world data to analyze risks and provide solutions to companies, governments, or NGOs. This challenge pushes high schoolers to use critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, and analytical skills to shape future decisions using their own risk analysis!
Dates: Registration is open from September to November for the following year.
Prize: A variety of prizes totaling $60,000
The nation’s oldest and most prestigious science competition. Entrants to this competition must conduct an original research project and supplement their applications with recommendation letters and transcripts. 13 alumni have won the Nobel Prize. It is open to any student who is enrolled in or attending their senior year of high school. 40 finalists are selected and receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for in-depth judging.
Dates: Applications for the 2022 competition are open now through November 10th!
Prizes: Over $2 million in awards are given; first-place prize is $250,000.
Enjoy science fairs for kids
As you can see, there is a huge array of opportunities out there, whether for elementary students looking for their first experience in STEM or for elite high school students who want to gain international recognition and a chance to win a massive cash prize. We hope that this gives you some food for thought, but remember there's a lot of science fairs for kids out there, and you should check some of the opportunities locally in your region, which often have connections or qualifying competitions for larger, international and national competitions.
For even more fun, enter our summer kids coding challenge!
Written by Bryan Gordon, a Create & Learn instructor. After ten years of working as an English teacher, Bryan began studying Math and Computer Science over the past few years. Aside from writing and teaching, he likes cooking, gardening, playing guitar, and hanging out with his cats, Baguette and Wally.