Enter the Google Science Fair for a Chance at a $50K Scholarship

woman working on robot in laboratory for science fair.
skynesher/Getty images

I electrocuted a pickle once.

It tested positive as an electricity conductor. This was done in the name of that trifold cardboard nightmare called a science fair project that most kids are forced to complete in school.  

Some students conjure up brilliant ideas, like creating a flashlight powered by the heat of the human hand or using banana peels to make plastic.

Those ideas are among past winners at the annual Google Science Fair 2018, a worldwide online science competition.

The competition invites teenagers to test their bright ideas, creatively solve problems and collect data for the chance to win a $50,000 scholarship. Other prizes include funding to carry out students’ science projects, a new Chromebook and international travel.

Details of the Google Science Fair 2018

Entrants use science, technology, engineering and math to explore ideas and answer questions.


The Google Science Fair 2018 competition is open to teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18. Applicants must be age 13 by Dec. 12 and have turned 18 by Sept. 13, 2018.

Entries will also be accepted from individuals in the 28 member countries of the European Union (must be age 16 by Dec. 12, 2018) as well as Israel and South Korea (must be age 14 by Dec. 12, 2018).

Each teen must have permission from a parent or legal guardian to enter the competition.

Entry and Submissions

Register as an individual or as a team of up to three people.

To enter, sign up for a Google account if you don’t have one already. Then, register yourself on the Google Science Fair page.

From there you will be taken to your project dashboard, where you will create, edit and submit your entry. You’ll use the dashboard to access permission forms, category selection and complete all submission requirements.

Entries must have a main topic and two subtopics from this list:

  • Flora and fauna.
  • Food science.
  • Earth and environmental sciences.
  • Inventions and innovation.
  • Electricity and electronics.
  • Robotics.
  • Biology.
  • Chemistry.
  • Physics.
  • Behavioral and social sciences.
  • Energy and space.
  • Astrophysics.
  • Computer science and math.

Google offers a resource library for topic inspiration, how-to guides, tips and access to experts and mentors to assist students along the way.

Submissions (much like those old school science fair projects) must include all of the following to be considered:

  • A summary description of your entry.
  • A two-minute video on YouTube or a slideshow using Google Slides with 20 slides or fewer.
  • An “About Me” section.
  • A proposal question and hypothesis.
  • Description of research.
  • Experiments and testing.
  • Results of tests.
  • Outcome and conclusion.
  • Bibliography, references and any acknowledgements.

See the official rules for restrictions, terms and the other fine print.

All submissions will be considered for the various awards available (listed below), so there’s no need to enter them separately.

Scope out the past winning projects to get a feel of what the judges favor.

The deadline to submit a project is 11:59 p.m. PST on Dec. 12, 2018.

State award winners will be announced in March 2019; regional finalists will be announced in April 2019; global finalists will be announced in May 2019.

The Prizes

These 179 prizes are better than any first-place ribbons if you ask me. If a team wins any of the monetary prizes, the amount will be divided evenly among the members.

The Google Grand Prize is a $50,000 scholarship.

Then there are four $15,000 scholarships dedicated to helping students achieve the goal of their project:

  1. The $15,000 LEGO Education award includes a trip with a parent or guardian to LEGO headquarters in Denmark. This award recognizes a hands-on approach to solving STEM challenges.
  2. The $15,000 National Geographic Explorer award includes a 15-day expedition to the Galápagos Islands and a yearlong mentorship. This award recognizes creative and experimental approaches to challenges facing the Earth.
  3. The $15,000 Scientific American Innovator award includes a Scientific American cruise with a parent or guardian and a yearlong mentorship. The award recognizes a top project that uses an experimental approach to answer questions about the natural world.
  4. The $15,000 Virgin Galactic Pioneer award includes a tour of Virgin Galactic facilities and a yearlong mentorship. The award recognizes hands-on approach to engineering challenges.

Next there are 20 global finalists, 53 state winners and 100 regional winners.

The 20 global finalists will receive goody bags from sponsors, a 12-month subscription to Scientific American and National Geographic and a paid trip to Mountain View, California, to participate in the finalist event in July 2019.

The 53 state winners get an Android tablet and a Google goody bag. The 100 regional winners get a Chromebook and a Google goody bag.

When making your science fair project, just remember no idea is too big or too small when it comes to innovation and creative solutions. Look at how aglets — the piece at the end of a shoelace — made our everyday lives easier.

If you’re not eligible or if this isn’t your thing, that’s OK. Check out our list of 100 scholarships that will help you pay for college, or you can like The Penny Hoarder Life on Facebook to discover other scholarship opportunities.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also tested what color popcorn ants prefer because we had colored popcorn in the ’90s.