Our post today was inspired by the book Science Fair Season:  Twelve Kids, a Robot Named Scorch . . . and What It Takes to Win by Judy Dutton about twelve kids preparing for the 2009 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Although written for adults, teens and mature middle grade students are also likely to find stories about their peer’s quests for science fame and scholarships compelling reading.   (Longer review).

Now is the time to start planning for those science fair projects. If you child or teen is interested in science, there are a number of options for participating. Let’s take a look at a few.

The first place to check for science fairs is your local school, school district or homeschool organization. Many middle school science classes now require students take part in a school science fair, selecting winners to send on to the regional or state competitions (see resource list link at bottom).

If you can’t find any options, don’t worry. Many of the regional and state competitions will accept individual projects. My son’s elementary school did not offer a science fair, but he did a project and went to the state science fair anyway. (He did have to take a day off from school.) Or consider the Google Science Fair (below).

The affiliated state and regional science fairs then send winners on to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair mentioned in the book. This page has a search box to help you find nearby Intel ISEF affiliated science fairs.

Are you a high school senior? The deadline for the Siemens competition entries is coming up fast: October 3, 2011.  If you are not a senior, you can still participate as part of a team project. (More  about the types and amounts of scholarships Siemens offers.)

Discovery Education/3M also have what they call the Young Scientist Challenge for students in grades 5-8. Although the 2011 challenge is already concluded, be on the lookout for information for 2012.

For grades 6-8, you also might want to look into the Broadcom Masters Competition.  Once again, you must participate in an affiliated science fair and then be nominated to go to the Broadcom Masters.

Live in Canada? Check the Youth Science Canada website for tons of information.

The Google Global Science Fair is open to whoever wants to create a website and enter their project.   Both of those would be completed next spring (2012), but if you go to the website now you can sign up for an e-mail reminder to be sent when registration starts.

You can’t help but feel the excitement in this video about last year’s finalists.

Not sure you want to do a research project but still interested in science? One of our friends takes part in the National Science Bowl, a Jeopardy-style competition for teams.

We would love to hear about your science fair experiences!

Places to find out more about science fairs and get ideas for projects:

Enormous list of regional, state and national science fairs

Archimedes Project has videos of more than 50 science fair students giving advice

Science Buddies is a huge resource of ideas and information

Discovery Education has Science Fair Central

And let’s not forget, the Experiment List here at Growing With Science might give you a few ideas 🙂