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STEAM Contests

Treefort Music Fest on Flickr

Looking to put your STEM and STEAM skills to the test? There’s no better time, as school begins, for students and teachers to research and plan for upcoming competitions.

Contests are a great way to ensure time for STEM/STEAM activities is put on the calendar for the school year. Competitions let students practice problem-solving skills, use the engineering design process, and learn how to plan and execute projects.

Some contests are run by private companies—for example, Sphero, which makes highly configurable robots. Other contests are sponsored by universities and government agencies.

I’ve compiled information on several contests in the US, Canada, Australia, and UK. Other countries’ competitions can be found online by searching phrases like “Kids STEM STEAM contests (or competition)” along with the name of the country and year. Be sure to sign up for email updates at competition websites, and definitely put them on your calendar.

Canadian Innovation STEM+ Global Contest

The Competitive Kids STEM group sponsors a number of science and math competitions geared toward Canadian students but open to a global audience.


National STEM Learning Centre

This not-for-profit company in the United Kingdom offers a number of fun competitions for students in the UK and Europe, including AstroPi, a competition to write software that could run on a Raspberry Pi aboard the International Space Station.


Australian STEM Video Game Challenge

This free contest runs February through October each year. Students in years 4-12 work in teams of up to four to design and develop a video game based on a theme. They submit a game design document as well as their game.


Future City

This international contest attracts tens of thousands of students in grades 6-8 who solve a problem that affects cities—for example, how to respond to climate change. Each team has at least three students in addition to an educator and a mentor. The competition can be completed in four months and runs May through February.


National Science Bowl

The US Department of Energy sponsors this science-based version of a spelling bee, testing middle and high school students on their knowledge of biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math. Teams are made up of four students, one alternate, and a teacher who serves as advisor and coach.


American Rocketry Challenge

Can you shoot a rocket in the air with an egg for payload and not break the egg? This competition for middle and high school students provides the opportunity to design, build, and launch model rockets while learning about—and solving—engineering problems. A winner from the first competition in 2003 launched to the International Space Station in March 2023.


Congressional App Challenge

For US students (if your federal House of Representatives sponsors it), this contest encourages middle and high school students to create software to solve problems in their communities. The topic varies by representative. The contest begins in June and ends in November, making it an ideal summer project.