Research Competitions for Psychology

In early 2013, APA is working to revise “Conducting Psychological Research for Science Fairs: A Teacher's Guide and Resource Manual” (PDF, 454KB). The following information will replace “Appendix A” in this manual.


A psychology science fair project can be entered through a category that has been labeled “social and behavioral sciences.” Local high school fairs often provide the first opportunity to compete, with additional regional and national competitions available for winners of local competitions. There are many regional science fairs available in the United States, and most of these fairs are affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Because entry requirements vary with each regional fair, we refer you to the local sponsor for specific information. This appendix includes information about the largest national science fair competition (ISEF) and other related science-oriented competitions available to high school students.

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)

This fair is open to students with winning entries from local, state and regional ISEF-affiliated fairs. The Intel ISEF is the world’s largest precollege celebration of science. Held annually in May, the ISEF brings together more than 1,500 students from nearly 70 countries, regions and territories to compete for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips, and the grand prize — a $75,000 college scholarship. Students who win a local or regional competition are invited to advance to larger competitions. Information regarding eligibility and the instructions for competing in this fair are listed at the Society for Science and the Public website. Check this site for information on local, state and regional ISEF-affiliated fairs that are open to all students.

Intel Science Talent Search (STS)

The STS is open to high school seniors in the United States and territories, and American students attending school abroad. Each year, nearly 2,000 students accept the challenge of completing an entry for the STS, with finalists competing for the top prize — a $100,000 scholarship. The Intel Science Talent Search School Award recognizes excellence in teaching and school support of individual student research. Each school will receive an award of $1,000 for each semifinalist named. For complete details and procedures for submitting entries, please check the Society for Science and the Public website.

Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

This scholarship competition encourages students to get involved in science, engineering, technology or mathematics related research. The symposia give students an opportunity to present their original research findings in front of a judging panel and their peers. In addition, participation in the regional or national symposia offer a number of experiences for students including workshops, panel discussions, career exploration, research lab visits and networking events. For more details, visit the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium website.

Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge

This competition asks high school students to identify and help offer sustainable, replicable solutions for environmental issues that have a global impact. Chosen environmental issues can fall into one or more of the challenge topic areas — energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation and clean-up, and/or air and climate. Students are asked to conduct thorough scientific research to identify an environmental problem, hypothesize a solution, and study its success and ability to be replicated on a global scale. For more details, visit the Siemens We Can Change the World Competition website.

United States Army’s eCybermission Competition

High school freshman — along with sixth, seventh and eighth graders — are invited to compete for state, regional and national awards given by the United States Army in this Web-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics competition. The eCybermission competition challenges students to choose one of seven challenges — alternative sources of energy; environment; food, health and fitness; forces and motion; national security and safety; robotics; or technology. After identifying a problem in their community related to one of these challenges, students are asked to use the scientific method or the engineering design process to come up with a viable solution. For more details, visit the eCybermission competition website.

Google Science Fair

This global online science competition is open to all students who are between 13 and 18 years old. The competition, which launched in 2011, accepts submissions in all areas science. From thousands of submissions, 60 semifinalists are selected, and 15 finalists are chosen to participate in a final live Google Science Fair at the Google headquarters. The prizes are furnished by Google and partners CERN, LEGO, National Geographic and Scientific American. For details, visit the Google Science Fair website.


  • The University of Florida's Science Project Encyclopedia offers useful information about the steps involved in designing a project, and helpful tips on how to prepare for science fairs that are affiliated with the International Science and Engineering Fair.

  • Chris Gould at the University of Southern California maintains a virtual library of state, regional, national and international science fairs.

  • The Society for Science and the Public (SSP) publishes rules and guidelines for entering projects for Intel ISEF and Intel STS.

  • Neuroscience for Kids provides specific information to help students design strong psychology projects. Links to additional sites provide information about ideas for science fair projects, guidelines for preparation of projects, and steps for completing a successful project.

  • Science Buddies has over one thousand project ideas in over 30 different areas of science, and includes resources for teachers and an “ask an expert” section that provides an online help environment.

  • APA offers additional resources about science fairs, clubs and student research.