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February 22, 2024

Society for Science Announces Top 300 Middle School Innovators in Nation’s premier STEM Competition

Freshman Griffin Kirby one of five Brevard finalists

Society for Science today announced the Top 300 Junior Innovators in the inaugural Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge (Thermo Fisher JIC) — the nation’s premier science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competition for middle school students. The Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge, a program of Society for Science, seeks to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators to solve the grand challenges of the 21st century.

Thermo Fisher’s sponsorship of the competition continues its longstanding commitment to widespread and equitable access to STEM education. For decades, Thermo Fisher has invested in school-based STEM programs, and colleagues across the company dedicate thousands of volunteer hours each year to support education efforts around the world.

The Top 300 Junior Innovators were selected from nearly 2,000 students from 49 states, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico who applied to compete in the Thermo Fisher JIC. Students who are named in the top 10% of their local science fair are eligible to enter the Thermo Fisher JIC, the only middle school STEM competition that leverages Society-affiliated science fairs as a critical component of the STEM talent pipeline. The Thermo Fisher JIC reaches 65,000 students annually through the Society’s Affiliated Fair network.

2023 Top 300 Junior Innovators Fast Facts:

  • The Junior Innovators hail from 35 states and Puerto Rico
  • The states with the most Junior Innovators are California, Florida and Texas
  • The top three project categories are Engineering, Energy & Sustainability and Environmental & Earth Sciences
  • More than half of the Junior Innovators attend a public school
  • Combined, the Junior Innovators speak a total of 21 languages
  • Project topics include renewable energy, the threat of microplastics, UV radiation, blood clot prevention and the effects of gender stereotyping on child development

The students’ names and a state-by-state breakdown of the Top 300 can be found at

On September 20, a nationwide panel of scientists, engineers and educators will select 30 Thermo Fisher JIC finalists from the Top 300Later this fall, the finalists will convene in Washington, DC to compete for over $100,000 in prizes, including the $25,000 Thermo Fisher Scientific ASCEND (Aspiring Scientists Cultivating Exciting New Discoveries) Award; $10,000 Broadcom Coding with Commitment TM Award; $10,000 DoD STEM Talent Award; $10,000 Lemelson Award for Invention; and $10,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement.

“Congratulations to these exceptional middle school students. I am thrilled to be starting this new journey with Thermo Fisher Scientific as our new sponsor of this decades-long competition, now called the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge,” said Maya Ajmera, President & CEO of Society for Science and Executive Publisher of Science News. “Middle school is a pivotal time in the lives of young people – when many make decisions about engaging in STEM fields. I call on each of these young people to continue down this path, where they have an opportunity to make an impact on our world’s most pressing scientific and engineering challenges.”

“We are awed and inspired by this inaugural class of Top 300 Junior Innovators, whose research and innovations reflect a rich diversity of academic and personal experiences,” said Dr. Karen Nelson, Chief Scientific Officer, Thermo Fisher Scientific. “As a global life sciences leader with a mission to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer; we especially admire these students’ shared passion for using science, technology, engineering and math to solve problems in their communities and make the world a better place.”

Each of the Top 300 Junior Innovators will receive a $125 award from DoD STEM. With this prize, the Department of Defense continues its support of youth in STEM, working towards a more diverse pipeline of highly qualified STEM professionals in the future. Additionally, the Top 300 will receive a prize package and gifts from our partners, including a one-year subscription to Wolfram Mathematica software, courtesy of Wolfram Research.

Thermo Fisher was named the title sponsor of the Society’s middle school competition in August 2022. The competition was previously sponsored by Broadcom Foundation.

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