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13 Biology Competitions for High School Students

January 30, 2024
By AdmissionSight
College students looking gleeful looking at the camera

13 Biology Competitions for High School Students

The “13 Biology Competitions for High School Students” listicle is designed to guide you through some of the top competitions in biology. From tackling complex environmental issues to delving into the intricacies of human neuroscience, these competitions provide a spectrum of opportunities for young biologists to excel.

Participation in such competitions enhances a student’s resume and offers invaluable experiences that foster growth, critical thinking, and a deeper appreciation for the life sciences. As we explore these top biology competitions for high school students, we invite you to discover platforms where young talent meets the forefront of scientific exploration and innovation.

1. American Society of Human Genetics DNA Day Essay Contest

  • Location: Global
  • Registration Fee: No fee mentioned
  • Important Dates: Submission opens early January, closes March 6, winners announced April 25
  • Eligibility: Students in grades 9-12 worldwide

The American Society of Human Genetics DNA Day Essay Contest is a standout event among biology competitions for high school students, celebrating the field of genetics engagingly and educationally. This contest commemorates two key milestones in genetics: the completion of the Human Genome Project and the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure.

Writing on an arm chair.

It encourages students in grades 9-12 worldwide to delve into important genetics concepts through essay writing. Participants are expected to present well-reasoned arguments demonstrating a deep understanding of scientific concepts related to the essay question. The contest is judged by ASHG members across multiple rounds, focusing on scientific accuracy, evidence-based arguments, writing quality, and appropriate referencing.

With cash prizes for top essays and an aim to foster a deeper appreciation of genetics among young scholars, this contest is a valuable platform for aspiring scientists to showcase their knowledge and critical thinking skills.

2. The BioGENEius Challenge

  • Location: Varies by state; finalists present at the BIO International Convention in Boston.
  • Registration Fee: may vary by state.
  • Important Dates: Registration typically between January and late March annually.
  • Eligibility: High school students submitting research projects in specific categories.

The BioGENEius Challenge stands out among the top biology competitions for high school students, primarily focusing on the exciting fields of biotechnology and life sciences. This competition is a platform for budding young scientists to showcase their research projects in one of three categories: Global Healthcare, Global Sustainability, and Global Environment.

Health care researchers working in life science laboratory

The structure of the BioGENEius Challenge involves state and regional competitions, with the top 5% of participants advancing to present their research at the prestigious BIO International Convention in Boston.

This opportunity allows students to gain significant exposure and interact with a wide range of experts and professionals from the biotech industry. Winners are awarded trophies and substantial cash prizes, making this a highly sought-after contest for students passionate about biotechnology and its applications in solving global issues.

3. Brain Awareness Video Contest

  • Location: Global
  • Registration Fee: No fee mentioned
  • Important Dates: Specific dates for 2024 not provided
  • Eligibility: No specific eligibility criteria mentioned

The Brain Awareness Video Contest is a notable entry in biology competitions for high school students, offering a unique blend of science education and creative expression. Hosted by the Society for Neuroscience and BrainFacts.org, this contest invites students to create original videos that are both educational and entertaining, focusing on various neuroscience concepts.

A stack of ten different books with symbolic images on the covers related to various psychological concepts like a brain

Emphasizing the importance of sleep for teenagers, entrants compete by submitting short videos that explain why sleep is crucial to their success in different aspects of life. The contest rewards creativity, informative content, and popularity of the videos, making it an excellent opportunity for students to engage with neuroscience dynamically and positively.

4. Coleopterists Society Youth Incentive Award

  • Location: Global
  • Registration Fee: No fee mentioned
  • Important Dates: Application typically due by November 1st annually
  • Eligibility: Junior (grades 7-9) and Senior (grades 10-12) categories

The Coleopterists Society Youth Incentive Award is a unique opportunity for high school students in biology competitions, focusing on studying beetles. This award program encourages young entomologists by providing financial support for their projects related to beetle research.

Pretty young girls having outdoor science lesson exploring nature

The competition is divided into two categories, Junior and Senior, catering to different grade levels, and offers grants to support the study of beetles. This award fosters interest in entomology but also aids in developing research skills and scientific inquiry among young students.

5. American Academy of Neurology Neuroscience Research Prize

  • Location: Virtual.
  • Registration Fee: No mention of a registration fee
  • Important Dates: The application period is closed (The deadline was November 2, 2023).
  • Eligibility: Students must enroll in the United States in secondary school (grades 9-12). Applications must represent original research and the applicant’s original written work.

The American Academy of Neurology’s Neuroscience Research Prize is a distinguished competition among the top biology competitions for high school students, specifically targeting the field of neuroscience.

an image of brain on a CT scan result

This competition invites high school students from across the United States to submit their research reports in neuroscience, including brain and nervous system studies. Participants must provide a 300-word abstract along with their research, evaluated by a panel of esteemed scientists and physicians.

The competition aims to support and recognize students with strong scientific aptitude and skills in neuroscience research. Winners are awarded cash prizes and fully funded trips to attend prominent scientific meetings. This competition is an excellent platform for young scientists to gain recognition and support for their research endeavors in neuroscience.

6. 2024 Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest

  • Location: Global
  • Registration Fee: Not specified
  • Important Dates: Submission deadline is typically in February
  • Eligibility: Open to various age groups, including Kindergarten to Grade 12, college students, parents, and teachers

The Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest, held annually, is an intriguing and creative outlet among biology competitions for high school students. This unique competition invites students from various age groups, including high school students, to express their understanding and appreciation of neuroscience through art.

Participants are encouraged to create hand-drawn illustrations reflecting specific neuroscience themes, judged based on originality, scientific accuracy, and overall design. Open to a global audience, this contest offers an engaging way to explore biology and neuroscience beyond the conventional classroom setting, inspiring artistic and scientific pursuits.

The winners, celebrated for their creativity and understanding of neuroscience, receive prizes that further nurture their interest in the brain and its functions. Following the successful conclusion of its 2023 edition on March 1st, anticipation for another, the 2024 Neuroscience for Kids Writing (Poetry) Contest is already building.

7. American Sleep Medicine Foundation High School Video Contest

  • Location: United States
  • Registration Fee: Not specified
  • Important Dates: Submission deadline is typically in late May, with winners announced in June.
  • Eligibility: Open to high school students enrolled in a public, private, or home school in the U.S.

The American Sleep Medicine Foundation High School Video Contest is a distinctive entry in the array of biology competitions for high school students. It challenges participants to create original videos emphasizing the importance of sleep for teens.

four female students studying inside a room

Focused on various aspects of a teen’s life, the contest encourages students to be creative and informative in their approach, highlighting how sleep impacts areas like health, safety, sports, and relationships.

This competition raises awareness about sleep health and provides a platform for students to showcase their storytelling and filmmaking skills. The initiative is a unique blend of science education and creative expression, offering a stimulating opportunity for high school students to explore and communicate scientific concepts related to biology and health

8. BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge

  • Location: United States
  • Registration Fee: Not specified
  • Important Dates: Not specified for 2024, but typically involves a submission phase.
  • Eligibility: High school students in the United States, working in teams.

The BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge stands out in biology competitions for high school students. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, it invites teams of high school students to delve into the bioenergy world.

Young maintenance engineer team working in wind turbine farm at sunset

Participants are tasked with creating infographics that explore various aspects of bioenergy, including its sources, production, benefits, and challenges. This competition not only promotes learning about a key area of biology but also hones skills in research, data analysis, and graphic design. The challenge’s focus on infographics offers a unique blend of scientific inquiry and creative expression, allowing students to present complex information in a visually appealing and accessible format.

9. iGEM Competition

  • Location: Global; 2024 World Championship virtually in conjunction with Neuroscience 2024 in Chicago, Illinois
  • Important Dates: October 5-9, 2024 (exact dates TBD)
  • Eligibility: Participants must have won the highest level of Brain Bee competition in their country

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition is a prestigious global event that stands as a pillar among biology competitions for high school students. This competition provides a platform for young innovators to explore the field of synthetic biology by developing genetically engineered systems using standard biological parts.

Research project of medical team

Teams of students design, build, and test their projects, showcasing them at the iGEM Jamboree. The competition nurtures scientific ingenuity and emphasizes collaboration, ethics, and the responsible use of biotechnology. It is a convergence of science, engineering, and biotechnology, challenging students to push the boundaries of biological research and innovation.

10. Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

  • Location: United States
  • Registration Fee: Not specified
  • Important Dates: 62nd National JSHS scheduled for May 1-4, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) is a renowned event among biology competitions for high school students. This symposium offers a platform for students to present original research in STEM fields. Participants compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting their findings before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers.

Students talking in a debate.

The JSHS fosters a culture of scientific inquiry and exploration among high school students, encouraging them to pursue careers in science and engineering. This competition emphasizes academic excellence and encourages effective communication skills and scientific collaboration.

11. International Brain Bee

  • Location: 2024 World Championship virtually in Chicago, Illinois
  • Important Dates: During October 5-9, 2024 (exact dates TBD)
  • Eligibility: National champions of Brain Bee competitions

The International Brain Bee is a prominent educational competition within the realm of biology competitions for high school students. It aims to motivate students to learn about the human brain and inspire them to pursue careers in neuroscience. Based on real clinical cases, participants engage in rigorous tests, including neuroanatomy, neurohistology, and patient diagnosis.

Business people discussing documents and ideas at meeting

This global event unites young minds from various countries, fostering international cooperation and knowledge sharing in neuroscience. The Brain Bee challenges students to deepen their understanding of the brain’s structure, function, and disorders, nurturing a new generation of neuroscientists.

12. USA Biology Olympiad (USABO)

  • Location: National Finals are conducted at a host university (location may vary).
  • Registration Fee: Not explicitly mentioned; schools or authorized centers typically handle registration.
  • Important Dates: The application period is closed (The deadline was January 14, 2024).
  • Eligibility: High school students (grades 9 to 12) in the U.S., including home-schooled students. U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents for progression beyond the Open Exam​​​.

The USA Biology Olympiad (USABO) is one of the most prestigious competitions listed among the top biology competitions for high school students, focusing specifically on biology. The USABO challenges students across the United States with a rigorous examination process designed to test their knowledge and understanding of various biological concepts.

Students taking an exam.

The competition involves multiple rounds of exams, starting with the USABO Open Exam, then the Semifinal Exam, and culminating in the National Finals, a residential training program. Twenty finalists are trained in advanced biological concepts and lab skills at the National Finals.

The top four students from the finals form the USA Biolympiad Team, representing the United States at the International Biology Olympiad. This competition is known for its high standards and is an excellent opportunity for students to push their limits and gain recognition on an international stage.

13. The Davidson Fellows Scholarship

  • Location: National level, but specific location details for presentations have yet to be mentioned.
  • Registration Fee: No mention of a registration fee.
  • Important Dates: Applications are open until February 15 and reviewed regularly.
  • Eligibility: Multiple categories including science, for students with a research report and visual model.

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship is a prestigious award and a notable entry in top biology competitions for high school students. This scholarship program is designed to recognize and support extraordinary young talents who have completed significant projects in science and other fields like mathematics, literature, music, and philosophy.

Side view at multi-ethnic group of students using laptop while studying in college

High school students are encouraged to submit comprehensive research reports accompanied by visual models within the science category. The scholarship targets students who demonstrate advanced intellectual and academic achievements.

Winners receive substantial scholarship funds, contributing significantly to their educational pursuits. The Davidson Fellows Scholarship is not just a competition but a recognition of young visionaries who have the potential to contribute groundbreaking work in their respective fields.

Conclusion

Whether through presenting groundbreaking research, engaging in team-based challenges, or representing their country on an international stage, students participating in these competitions gain recognition and invaluable skills and experiences. These competitions are more than mere contests; they are incubators for the next generation of scientists, innovators, and leaders in biology.

For students looking to make their mark in science, participation in these competitions can be a transformative step in their academic and professional journeys, opening doors to new discoveries, mentorship opportunities, and a global network of like-minded individuals. Let this listicle be a guiding light for ambitious young biologists eager to explore the depths of their passion and make a meaningful impact in science.

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