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8 STEM Competitions for High Schoolers

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Beyond the classroom, students passionate about STEM may have trouble sharpening their skills in a team setting and demonstrating their expertise to colleges. A STEM competition, however, is an ideal way to expand your knowledge base while showing colleges you can work in a team, and achieve in high-pressure environments.


Why Should You Enter a STEM Competition?


Taking part in STEM competitions can have a profound effect on students’ future goals. STEM contests support students in thinking critically while teaching them to work both individually and with others. Additionally, STEM competitions allow students to develop their skills in areas like robotics, coding, game design, and more. The end result is that they gain valuable insight into their talents and preferences while increasing their desirability among top schools.


Here are eight of the best STEM competitions for high schoolers looking to test their skills:


1. eCyberMission


You can participate in this competition without leaving the house. eCyberMission is a web-based contest in which students use science, math, and technology to solve problems facing their communities. First-place winners receive $1,000 in savings bonds.


Grades: 9th Only

Competition Type: Local, National


2. Generation Nano: Superheroes Inspired by Science


Superhero movies are enjoying a serious moment. If you love science and never miss a Marvel opening night, Generation Nano’s Superheroes Inspired by Science contest is a perfect choice. This STEM competition invites students to create a new superhero and explain his or her powers using scientific research. Along with a written component, participants submit either a short video or a comic. First and second-place individuals or teams can score scholarship money.


* This competition is not active this year but may be in the future.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: National


3.  International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition


Of course, you don’t have to be a tech enthusiast to take part in STEM competitions. Designed for students with interested in biology, the iGEM competition has students work in teams to build genetically engineered systems with biological parts called BioBricks. The goal is to create projects that positively contribute to the world.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: Local, National


4. Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS) Program


The JSHS program is designed to prepare students for careers in research and development. Sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force, this competition encourages students to conduct original research related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students must first participate at the regional level before moving on to the national symposium.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: Regional, State, National

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5. TEAMS Competition


Held annually, TEAM invites students to use their engineering talent to contribute to the community. Working in groups, students complete real-life engineering challenges. The competition includes multiple-choice questions, an essay, and a design-build component.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: Local, National


6. Technology Student Association Competitions


Also known as the TSA, the Technology Student Association brings together students talented in STEM and invites them to participate in various challenges. Activities include animation, architectural design, board game design, and coding, among others. Along with the chance to develop their technological prowess, students gain the opportunity to network with other emerging leaders in tech.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: National


7. The Conrad Challenge


In this challenge, students work in teams of 2-5 to develop products or services in response to key issues facing people around the world. A multi-step entrepreneurial competition, the Conrad Challenge empowers students to take control of their learning and apply it to real-life situations. Winners are eligible for $15,000 scholarships, laptops, and more.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: Local, National


8. Toshiba/NSTA Exploravision


Interested in what the future has to hold? Consider ExploraVision’s STEM competition. Working in teams of two to four, students will research a particular technology and assess the ways in which it may impact lives moving forward. Participants are required to write a paper and draw webpages communicating their vision.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: Local, State, National


How Can You Find the Best Competitions to Enter?


If you’re not sure which competition is best for you, consult your counselor for more resources, talk to a trusted adult, or consider working with a mentor at a reputable college guidance company. You can also check out our other post: Prestigious STEM Competitions for High School Students.


Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academicschoosing coursesstandardized testsextracurricular activitiesand much more!


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Short Bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.