STEM competitions and challenges are a great way for students to show off their talent and their interests beyond the classroom. So today we’ve curated a list of competitions for students of all ages, ranging in focus areas from math to the environment.

What are STEM competitions?

STEM competitions are opportunities for students to compete in different areas of science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. Oftentimes, these competitions offer prizes. Participating in them gives students a chance to develop their skills and interests in a specific area.


STEM competitions for middle schoolers

In this section we’ll go over popular competitions and challenges where middle school students can show off their math abilities.

  1. Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge: In this annual competition, students create a 1-2 minute video proposing a solution to a common problem. Finalists are chosen based on their passion, ingenuity and communication skills.
  2. AMC 8: This yearly math contest gives students 40 minutes to answer 25 multiple choice questions. Students can develop analytical thinking skills and apply what they learn in math beyond the classroom.
  3. eCYBERMISSION: Students compete in small teams to tackle a science or engineering community problem. If your team has a problem you want to solve, the engineering category is best. If your team is trying to answer a community question, then scientific inquiry is best.
  4. MATHCOUNTS Competition Series: The competition series is broken into school, chapter, state and national levels. Students compete through their schools and participate in individual and team rounds.
  5. Future City Competition: Students design and build projects for cities of the future. Teams must write an essay describing their futuristic city, create a physical model with recycled materials, and record a video presentation about their city.
  6. Broadcom Masters: Affiliated science fairs can nominate top middle schoolers to participate in the prestigious Broadcom Masters. Students fill out an application about their research project, science, and engineering.
  7. The New York Times Annual STEM Writing Contest: Students can choose an issue or question in science, technology, engineering, math or health, then write an engaging 500-word explanation. The New York Times suggests students begin with an engaging hook to get readers’ attention, quotes experts and/or includes research on the topic to give context and credibility and explains why the topic matters. The contest runs Feb. 2 to March 9, 2022. Submit for a chance to have your work published on The New York Times Learning Network.

STEM competitions for high school students

There are many STEM competitions for high schoolers to participate in. Here are some of the most popular.

  1. Envirothon: Students compete and develop solutions for environmental and natural resource issues. Participants are encouraged to explore the areas of aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife and more.
  2. FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC): Teams build a robot to play a field goal under strict rules, time pressure, and limited resources. FIRST Robotics Competition provides the opportunity so that teams from all skill levels can succeed.
  3. NSBE Jr. Try-Math-A-Lon: This is a program to encourage good study habits for groups underrepresented in STEM. Teams of high school students compete through in-person testing and a quiz bowl style round.
  4. Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS): In one of the most prestigious competitions, high school seniors submit their original research to be reviewed. Three hundred scholars are selected, and then forty finalists advance to compete for prizes in Washington DC.
  5. Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF): In this renowned science fair, nearly 2000 high school students from around the world present their projects to judges. Students compete for thousands of dollars in prizes.
  6. AMC 10/12: The AMC 10 is for students in 10th grade and below while the AMC 12 is for students in 12th grade and below. Each exam is 25 multiple choice questions to be completed in 75 minutes.
  7. The American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME): Students who perform well on the AMC 10/12 are invited to take AIME. This is a 15 question, three hour exam, where each answer is an integer between 0 and 999.
  8. U.S.A. (Junior) Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO): Top scores on the AMC 10/AIME are invited to participate in the Junior Math Olympiad while top scorers on the AMC 12/AIME are invited to compete in the USAMO. These are six question, two day, nine hour exams that require proofs for answers.
  9. Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge: High school juniors and seniors form teams where they have 14 hours to solve a real world problem. The final product includes a mathematical model to tackle the issue. This is an internet based challenge.
  10. American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) Power Contest: Teams participate in a contest broken down into an individual, team, power, and relay round. Each round consists of a series of math problems to solve.

STEM competitions for students of many ages

These organizations hold contests for students of all ages. Competitions are often broken down into divisions based on age.

  1. FIRST® LEGO® League: First Lego League allows kids ranging in age from 4-16 to learn from building robots. Participants gain experience solving a robotics based real world problem. Students ages 9-16 can participate in challenges to solve these problems.
  2. NSBE Jr. Explorer Technical Innovation Competition: Middle school and high school students research a science project and then present at the NSBE Annual Convention. Students can compete individually or on teams. You must be a paid NSBE Jr. member to participate.
  3. Air Force Association (AFA) CyberPatriot Competition: This contest inspires middle and high school students to tackle cybersecurity issues. Students are tasked with securing virtual networks.
  4. The Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing: The University of Waterloo’s CEMC holds math and computer science contests for students in grades 5-12. Some contests emphasize logical reasoning while others focus on insight and problem solving.
  5. U.S.A. Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS): This contest is open to middle and high school students. Since problems are difficult and solutions require written justification, students get a month to craft their responses.
  6. FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC): Teams build robots to compete against other teams. Robots are built with a reusable platform and can be coded with Java. Students explore different engineering models to implement.
  7. National Stem League (NSL): Each year features new challenges where students can test their race engineering or coding and automation skills. Teams can compete through an online points race and local/regional competitions. Begin preparing with coding for teens classes.
  8. Perennial Math Tournaments: Students in grades 3-12 can compete in online and in-person math competitions. The online competition features two seasons and individuals or teams can enter the in-person competitions.
  9. Rocket City Math League (RCML): Middle school, high school, and two-year college students are eligible to compete. Each level features three thirty minute tests where participants answer ten questions.
  10. Purple Comet! Math Meet: This is a team competition for middle school and high school students. The middle school contest is 20 questions in 60 minutes. The high school contest is 30 questions in 90 minutes.

Try STEM competitions

We hope you found a competition that interests you! All of our programming classes teach kids skills that can help develop a competition-ready project. Learn Python, game development, cloud computing and much more. Up next, discover fascinating STEM facts.

Written by Sophie Andrews, a Create & Learn instructor. Sophie Andrews is a student at Stanford University studying Math andComputational Sciences. She loves teaching and is a teaching assistant for Stanford's introductory computer science classes. Her work focuses on data science. Last year she built the online National Vote Trackers for The Cook Political Report, and she currently leads the Data Team at The Stanford Daily. She's also interned with the FCC and the National Renewable Energy Lab.