A New Cambridge Science Festival Event with $5K in Total Prizes!

“Science is not opposed to storytelling. Science is a genre of storytelling. Stories of the real world, inspired by observations thereof.”

–Sean Carroll, physicist

Science is a quest to find true stories about ourselves and the universe we inhabit. Far from the dry enterprise it is sometimes made out to be, science is brimming with fascinating tales of adventure, discovery, self-doubt, failure, and success. Some of them have been told; many are yet to be shared. ScienceStorySlam (3S) is a step in that direction. 3S is an invitation to all US high schoolers to share their stories about science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) with the community at large. These could be stories set in fictional scenarios that explain a scientific concept, or gripping accounts of how a scientific discovery came about, or more personal memoirs of how the pursuit of science has impacted the storyteller. The stories should be short (their telling should not take more than 5 minutes) but engaging for the broad audience that is expected to attend 3S. Finalists for 3S will compete for $5000 in total prizes and share their stories on stage at the Cambridge Public Library during the 2023 Cambridge Science Festival!

Key Dates

August 15:
Deadline to submit entries

August 31:
Finalists notified

September 27:
3S in-person finals event at 6:30-8:30PM.  Please register here!


All US high school students are invited to participate, including rising 9th graders and graduating seniors as of summer 2023.


Submitted stories should be original (even when describing other scientists’ work, the account should reflect the student’s voice). Entries prepared with the help of generative AI systems (like ChatGPT) or adapting other sources are not disallowed but need to be marked as such.

Each entry should be roughly 500 words long, either prose or poetry (including a song or rap) and capable of being narrated in 5 minutes or less.  Alternatively, you can share your story via an informal 5-minute video (voice/audio only is also fine), which can be recorded with a smartphone.  Students can submit multiple entries, and joint entries are welcome (but must list all contributors in the submission).


Grand prize:
$1000 cash award to student(s)

$500 cash award to student(s)

Audience choice:
$500 cash award to student(s)

$250 cash award to each finalist(s) + School of Science tours at MIT

All entrants:
A ScienceStorySlam T-shirt + other fun swag!

Judging Process

First round:
Scientists/engineers from MIT/Harvard + Boston-area biotech/tech companies

Celebrated scientists and storytellers, including New York Times reporter and author of The Exceptions Kate Zernike, best selling author Paul Tremblay, and MIT STEM advocates Malik and Miles!


Judging will NOT focus on writing or video production quality, or if you advance to the Finals, public speaking skills on stage.  Instead, our judges will look for a compelling story that integrates concepts from science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), or shows how you have engaged with STEM and how it has impacted you, even if that has involved struggle.  To help you brainstorm some ideas, here are some sample prompts you might answer with your story:

-Who is a scientist, engineer or mathematician you admire and why? 

-What is the origin story of how a scientific or technical advancement was made?

-Is there a fictional world you can imagine which illustrates a STEM concept?

-How did you get interested in STEM in your own life, even if it wasn’t always easy for you?


Einstein’s letter to Marie Curie:

Marie Curie, a Nobel-prize winning scientist whose husband died in an accident when she was in her 30s in 1906, had been unfairly attacked in the tabloids for her private life. Amid the public controversy, Albert Einstein wrote to her to ignore her critics in 1911. Read the letter. Does the background of this exchange surprise you? How has science changed in a hundred years (or not)?

Melted chocolate and the microwave:

Percy L. Spencer, a junior engineer at Raytheon, was walking through a radar test room with a chocolate bar in his pocket in 1945 and happened to come too close to a running magnetron tube. When the chocolate melted, he realized he was onto something and helped inspire the development of the first microwave oven called the “Radarange” in 1947. Learn more. Did you know that radar was also key to the Allied victory in World War II? What other technologies might have a fun or meaningful origin story?

Note these examples are only meant to be illustrative to help with your own brainstorming.  And for some friendly inspiration, check out Frida’s creative process!


The window for submissions has now closed, and finalists have been notified.  If you submitted a story, you will hear from us on the status of your application, using the email address you provided through this page (please check your spam folder).  We will also confirm that you have permission from a parent or guardian to participate.


Contact us at [email protected].