STEM Competitions

STEM competitions can help introduce young people to teamwork, problem solving and collaboration while they build skills in design thinking, coding, robotics, science, math and more. A few popular options among metro-area educators include:

Burns & McDonnell's Battle of the Brains

What: Area schools can earn a grant for STEM education by dreaming up an exhibit concept for Science City — and one student team sees its idea come to life in a big way! It’s a no-cost experience for students and teachers. So far, more than 30,000 students in 55 school districts have participated in this immersive educational opportunity.

Who: Students in K-12

When: The competition runs on a two-year cycle; one for competition and one for exhibit build-out. During competition years, sign ups and information sessions usually begin in the summer, with proposals due in late fall and winners announced in winter.

Where: You can see all of the previous winners with a visit to Science City at Kansas City’s Union Station.

More details:

Kansas City Invention Convention

What: Managed by the Linda Hall Library, this free invention education competition invites students to develop ideas into real inventions people can use to solve everyday problems. Supported by access to resources, workshops and mentors who will help them take their ideas from concept to prototype, participants will showcase their prototypes for a chance to win prizes and advance to national and global competitions.

Educators who incorporate KCIC have access to a free, interdisciplinary curriculum that can be used in a classroom or after-school program and is aligned with national standards. The Linda Hall Library offers support through information sessions covering each stage of the competition.

Who: Students in grades 5-12

When: Registration for educators typically opens in the fall, with student registration beginning in January and competition and awards in April.

Where: The 2024 competition will take place at UMKC’s Swinney Recreation Center, with the awards ceremony at the Linda Hall Library.

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Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair

What: Now more than 70 years old, the Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair challenges students to research and problem solve in categories ranging from animal science to robotics and mathematics and much more. Students who follow the entry guidelines for the ISEF may be eligible to advance to the international competition.

Who: Students in grades 4-12

When: Student registration and forms are due in late February, the fair typically takes place in late March.

Where: Kansas City’s Union Station

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Future City Competition®

What: Future City asks middle-school students to imagine, design and build cities of the future. After four months of designing a virtual city (using SimCity), researching, designing, and writing up their solution to a city-wide issue and building a scale model of their city, teams will present their vision to a panel of judges.

Who: Future City is open to kids in grades 6, 7, and 8 who are from the same school, a home school environment or are members of a nationally, regionally, or state-recognized youth-focused organization, such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, or 4-H.

When: Educator/program leader registration opens in May. Teams kick off projects in September, with presentations at regional competitions in January. The national competition in Washington, D.C., takes place in February.

Where: Kansas City students area compete in the Great Plains Region, which includes the entire state of Kansas and the Kansas City metro region. The regional competition takes place in Topeka, Kan.

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