Mission and History

Founded as Science Service in 1921, the Society for Science has been dedicated to expanding scientific literacy, access to STEM education and scientific research for more than 100 years. As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership organization, our mission promotes the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement: to inform, educate, and inspire. We are best known for our award-winning magazine, Science News, our world class science research competitions and our outreach and equity STEM Programs making sure that every young person can strive to become an engineer or scientist. Thanks to guidance from our Board of TrusteesHonorary Board and National Leadership Council we continue to achieve our mission through our magazines, competitions and programs.

Science News Media Group

In 1921, journalist Edward W. Scripps and zoologist William Ritter joined forces to create Science News Letter, with a shared goal to bridge the gap between scientists and average citizens, believing that “a healthy democracy depended on a public understanding of science.”

Today, Science News provides independent, unbiased, fact-based coverage of science to over 23 million readers in print and online . The magazine’s sister publication, Science News Explores, makes science accessible both in a print magazine and online for people ages 9 and up. In 2021, Science News Explores reached more than 11 million readers. Teachers and students in more than 5,400 high schools across the country read Science News through our Science News Learning program.

To celebrate 100 years of award-winning journalism, in 2021 Science News launched the Century of Science website, which highlights coverage of scientific milestones like the 1925 Scopes trial, the success of the Polio vaccine in 1953, exploration of space and continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Science News Magazine covers 2022

Our Prestigious Science Competitions

Science Talent Search

The Science Talent Search (STS), the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors, was launched by the Society and Westinghouse in 1942.

Then and today, the competition seeks to identify the nation’s next generation of scientific leaders. The 40 STS finalists receive scholarships and a trip to Washington D.C. where they have an opportunity to interact with one another in addition to meeting prominent scientists and politicians.

Westinghouse sponsored the competition for the first 55 years, followed by Intel from 1998-2016. STS is currently sponsored by Regeneron as part of a 10-year, $100 million commitment to the Society. Today, nearly 2,000 high school seniors apply to Regeneron STS annually, competing for more than $3 million in awards, including a top prize of $250,000.

Science Talent Search finalists at the Capitol, Washington DC, 1942

International Science and Engineering Fair

For more than 70 years, thousands of students from our affiliated science fair network have explored their passion for scientific inquiry at the world’s largest global science competition for high schoolers, the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Each year, students from more than 75 countries, regions and territories compete in ISEF across 21 different STEM disciplines.

Currently sponsored by Regeneron, ISEF awards nearly $8 million in prizes and scholarships to high school scientists each year, with a top prize of $75,000. Two films released in 2018, Inventing Tomorrow and Science Fair, documented several students’ pathways to ISEF and their experiences during the weeklong competition. Filmed at Regeneron ISEF 2022, National Geographic’s Science Fair: The Series follows several U.S. and international students as they navigate their way to ISEF. The docuseries is set to premiere in 2023.

ISEF 2022 Top 3 winners

Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge 

Our premier middle school STEM competition for U.S. students in grades sixth through eighth, first launched in 1999 thanks to a partnership with Discovery Communications, Inc. as the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (DCYSC), which ran through 2007. In 2008, the Society continued the program as the Society Middle School Program, until Broadcom Foundation was named the title sponsor in 2010. The Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Sciences, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) continued through 2022, awarding more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes each year. In 2022, Thermo Fisher Scientific was named the new title sponsor of our middle school competition. The first Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge will take place in 2023.

Learn more about how to support Thermo Fisher JIC

Society Alumni Community

Comprised of more than 75,000 STS, ISEF and middle school competition alumni, the Society Alumni Community is dedicated to connecting like-minded peers and providing a space to help alumni grow, collaborate and improve the world. By joining the Society Alumni Network, program alumni are able to connect with one another, share job and research opportunities and RSVP for Society Alumni events. Many of our alumni have gone on to become Nobel laureates, CEOs and entrepreneurs, making a global impact. To learn more about these impressive changemakers, visit our Notable Alumni page.


Notable Alumni banner

Outreach and Equity Programs

The Society for Science is dedicated to supporting teachers and community-driven nonprofits through our STEM Research Grant and STEM Action Grant programs. Over four years, the Society distributed $440,000 in STEM Research Grants to 188 middle and high school teachers, supporting students in low-income communities and underrepresented demographics in STEM fields. Since 2016, the Society has awarded more than $410,000 in STEM Action Grants to nonprofits working to enhance the public’s understanding of and access to STEM education. STEM Action Grants allow for increased participation of underrepresented groups in STEM activities.

MIddle School Research Teachers Conferences 2019

In order to bring teachers of all experience levels together to network, share best practices and learn about Society for Science programs, the Society hosts two, in-person annual conferences. Our Middle School Research Teachers Conference brings 75 middle school STEM teachers together for a weekend of peer-led professional development and learning to lead students through research projects. Our High School Research Teachers Conference invites 200 high school teachers to participate in workshops focused on supporting students with research communications, students underrepresented in STEM and learning strategies to manage student research programs. Teachers are chosen by a lottery-based system to attend the all-expenses paid conferences in Washington D.C.

Through the Society Advocate Program educators who agree to serve as a mentor for three to five students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields receive a $3,000 stipend to help these students conduct research projects and enter them into STEM research competitions. Additionally, Advocates receive training and support from Society staff and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. to attend the Advocate Training Institute.