The History of Science Fairs


A science fair is well known as a collection of exhibits that are designed and created by school students of pre-college age. It is also considered a competition where student contestants display their science or technology projects, models and reports to teachers, parents, mentors and fellow students.

The history of science fairs dates back to sometimes in the 1800s but became formally recognized in 1950 when science because an interest to majority of institutions especially after the use of atomic weapons during the world wars.

Initially, at around 1928, the American Institute of science sponsored the first children’s fair which turned out to be successful. This event was eventually turned into an annual event.

Perhaps, this had been inspired by the fact that in early 1800s, when the first industrial fair was held in New York City, a young girl, of about eight years, exhibited a black veil that she had made. The first science talent search was launched between 1942 and 1950 when science fairs were formally recognized.


Sometime in 1999, the science service, paired with Discovery Communications, Inc. to launch the Discovery Channel Scientist Challenge that would celebrate the abilities of 5th grade to 8th grade science fairs winners.

Throughout history, science fairs have been able to draw out talented young individuals and have always been a great platform where young scientific thinkers can display their creations. It has played a major role in the science world and through this role it has managed to become a recognized institution.

Science fairs also developed out of the desire to educate and keep the general public informed on up-to-date scientific achievements and to recognize the efforts of the inventors.

Importantly for students, science fairs have been able to provide a platform for participants to be paired up with mentors from various colleges and universities.

This mentorship provides the students with an opportunity for further exposure and to get access to equipment and instructions that their schools might not have. It has also created opportunities for ambitious participants to get openings in particular colleges and universities.


Science fairs have been able to cover large areas of science but the most common topics in the history of science fairs have been engineering, physics, mathematics, medicine, weather, behavioural science, botany, biology and microbiology.

These topics have increased over the years as students are gaining more interest in science and technology. In fact, computer science and engineering has gained popularity perhaps due to globalization and the advancement of technology.

As a result of going-green-campaigns all over the world and the need to promote environmental protection and conservation, green technology has found its place in science fairs.

There have been disagreements on when exactly the history of science fairs begin. However, the fact remains that science has always existed and will continue to exist and develop for as long as humanity exist.

Furthermore, as long as the educational system and science institutions continue to encourage participation of students in science fairs, the tradition will live on.