Who We Are
What We Do
How to Help
The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) unites the top young scientific minds, showcasing their talents on an international stage, where doctoral-level scientists review and judge their work.
Each year, approximately 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for on average $5 million in prizes at ISEF. The competition focuses on identifying, inspiring, and engaging the world's next STEM generation.
Millions of students in grades 9-12 or equivalent worldwide compete each year in local and school-sponsored science fairs. The winners of these events go on to participate in 420 Society-affiliated regional and state fairs, from which the best win the opportunity to attend ISEF. Each affiliated fair may send a pre-determined number of projects to ISEF (as factored by participation and high school population) to compete in 22 different categories.
ISEF alumni have gone on to receive some of the world's most esteemed academic honors, including one Nobel Prize, one Breakthrough Prize, three National Medals of Science, and six MacArthur Foundation Fellowships. They're involved in some of the most groundbreaking scientific research.
More than $5 million in awards are given annually at ISEF. The top winner of ISEF receives the Gordon Moore Award, and $75,000, with the next top two winners each receiving a $50,000 award. More than 600 individual and team awards are presented every year at ISEF. Each entry is judged at least four times with category awards given in first, second, third, and fourth place. Awards are $3,000, $1,500, $1,000, and $500 respectively in each of the 22 categories.
Awards worth approximately $4 million are provided through the ISEF Special Awards program, and include tuition scholarships, summer internships, scientific field trips, and laboratory equipment. They are provided by over 50 corporate, professional, and government sponsors annually.
Alumni of the International Science and Engineering Fair continuously express how influential the competition was to their lives.
The Society for Science & the Public is thrilled to be a part of the film Inventing Tomorrow – a documentary following students from Mexico, India, Indonesia and Hawaii as they prepared for ISEF 2016. The film competed and premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
The fair began in 1950 as the National Science Fair in Philadelphia and transitioned into an international competition in 1958 with the addition of Canadian, German, and Japanese finalists. Today, the number of countries participating has reached 80.
Each year, ISEF is hosted in a different city.The Local Arrangements Committees from each city partner with the Society and Intel to provide support for the event, including the recruitment of thousands of volunteers and judges and organizing an Education Outreach Day where over 3,000 middle and high school students visit the finalists and learn more about their projects.
Volunteers serve as general volunteers, interpreters, and judges. All judges have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree and/or six years of relevant experience. Learn more about becoming a judge.
Learn more about the competition week and how life-changing ISEF is for our alumni.