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Science Talent Search Through the Years

Celebrating Over Seven Decades of Inspiration

For more than seven decades, the Science Talent Search has rewarded talented high school seniors who dedicate countless hours to original research projects and write up their results in reports that resemble graduate school theses. To date, some 147,000 exceptionally motivated students have entered the competition. Of those, 22,071 have been named semifinalists and 2,920 have traveled to Washington, D.C., as contest finalists. Collectively, they have received millions of dollars in scholarships and gone on, in later years, to capture Nobel Prizes, Fields Medals, MacArthur Fellowships and numerous other accolades.

For 57 years, the contest was known as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, or simply “the Westinghouse.” While attending the 1939 New York World’s Fair, G. Edward Pendray, a Westinghouse executive, and Watson Davis, director of Science Service (now Society for Science & the Public) began discussing ways to encourage more students to pursue science careers. They decided on a national competition - Westinghouse agreed to provide prize money and cover administrative costs and Science Service took on the task of running it. In 1998, Intel Corporation became the title sponsor of the competition, continuing what has become an American institution designed to encourage young people to pursue careers in science, math, engineering and medicine.

In 2010, SSP staff uncovered an archive of photographs of every year of the Science Talent Search, dating back to 1942. We are pleased to be able to share these photographs with the public and we offer the Intel STS by Year webpages as a tribute and historical record of each competition.  

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