Why You Should Get Involved in Virtual Competitions

Posted September 21, 2020 by Aisha Abdullah, PhD


Much of what we consider “normal” has been altered over the last year and education is no exception. As face to face learning and travel remain unsafe in much of the world, many academic competitions have been postponed and canceled altogether. However, the emergence of online learning opportunities, and particularly virtual competitions, have provided an exciting and accessible outlet for academic achievement.

Why Virtual Competitions?

Even before restrictions on in-person gatherings, virtual academic competitions offered a rich learning environment that is open to students the world over. Virtual competitions combine the learning and social aspects of traditional academic competitions with the convenience (and safety) of online. In these uncertain times, online competitions can provide a sense of structure and normalcy, while still challenging students to excel.

Virtual competitions also help prepare students for the increasingly online nature of higher education and the workforce. From maintaining online documents and meeting deadlines to coordinating meetings across timezones, students will gain  

In team competitions, students have an opportunity to meet peers and mentors from outside of their circle, build a network online that will be valuable to them as they progress through their education and careers.

For those educators among us, virtual competitions also provide existing, well-structured curriculum and project-based-learning opportunities that are already built for the online-learning environment so many schools are working with these days.


Ready to get virtual? Sign up for these exciting online competitions. 

Social Science Competitions

Career Safe Youth Safety Video Contest – Career & Technical Training contest open to ages 13 and up. Submissions open in October.
Design Squad Global – Inventive design challenge open to students under 13. Challenges are open now.
Euro Challenge* – E.U.-focused economic challenge for grades 9 – 10. Registration is open now.
FCCLA Knowledge Matters Virtual Business Challenge – Business simulation competition for grades 9 – 12. Registration opens on October 6.
International Geography Bee – Geography competition for grades 1 -12. Registration closes on October 18
National History Bee* – History quiz competition for up to age 19. Registration closes on October 11.
National Mythology Exam – Themed mythology contest for grades 3 – 12. Registration is open now.
North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad – Logic and linguistics competition for grades 9 – 12. Registration opens in September.
World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest – Global challenges contest for grades 6 – 12. Submissions are open through February 25.

Featured Competition: Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

The RGMC has gone completely virtual this year! Check out their online guides to all the fun, crazy, and wacky ways you can create your own Rube Goldberg Machine, and learn physics and other STEM concepts while doing it!



STEM Competitions

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest – Ocean awareness through art/media for ages 11 – 18. Submissions open in September.
Caribou Mathematics Competition – Math contests for grades 3-12. Upcoming contests are in October.
Cyber Robotics Coding Competition – Robotics tournament for grades 5 – 12. Registration is open now.
eCybermission – Real-world STEM mission challenges for grades 6 – 9. Registration is open now.
Exploravision* – Project-based STEM competition for grades K – 12. Registration is open now.
Future City* – Sustainability design challenge for grades 6 – 8. Registration closes on October 31.
MakeX Spark Online Competition – Creative design competition for ages 6 to 13. Submissions open in September and November.
Technovation Challenge* – Tech-based challenge for girls ages 10 – 18. Registration opens in October.
Conrad Challenge* – Innovation and entrepreneurship competition open to grades 9 – 12. Registration closes on November 6.

*May have some in-person components

Featured Competition: Modeling the Future Challenge

The MTFC went all virtual in 2020 moving it’s grand finale into a virtual symposium of student presentations and activities. Additionally the MTFC provides virtual mentorship for all teams that pass the first phase of the challenge. Learn from actuaries and data scientists all the tricks of the trade in using real-world data to model the future and make mathematically sound decisions! Also, students can win $55,000 in college scholarships! Registration for the MTFC is now open until November 16th!



Although this list covers many themes, it is by no means comprehensive. Be sure to check out the ICS database to find and stay up-to-date on virtual and in-person academic competitions. With a premium account, you can track your progress in competitions and access exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.