Atlanta hosting world's largest science competition for high schoolers

science fair high school atlanta
When a building collapses, survivors are trapped in unknown locations. This project by Matthew Hansol Jabez Kim is an autonomous robotics system that can locate survivors in a collapsed building. Kim presented his omni-orientation mapping robot after three years of work at the Regeneron International Science Fair in Atlanta in May 2022. (Lily Oppenheimer/WABE)

Hundreds of high schoolers have come to Atlanta to compete in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair —  for more than $8 million in prize money — in a kind of science fair Olympics.

Officials tell WABE it’s the first time in five years that the number of female finalists has surpassed men. It’s also the second time since 1950 that the fair has come to Atlanta. But now, the city’s a tech hub with opportunities rivaling Silicon Valley.

Overall more than 1700 next-generation scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and inventors are convening both in-person and virtually —  some even competing from Ukraine.

A few dozen finalists from metro Atlanta presented in categories ranging from robotics and machine learning to virtual reality and sustainable energy. WABE’s Lily Oppenheimer went to the Georgia World Congress Center to speak with some of them.