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The Science Story Slam (3S) is an annual invitation to all US high schoolers to share 5-minute-long stories about science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) and compete for $5000 in total prizes at the annual Cambridge Science Festival!

What does storytelling have to do with science?

“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. The ScienceStorySlam (3S) is a step in that direction.

3S is an invitation to all US high schoolers to share their stories about 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 attends 3S.​

Highlights from last year

In fall 2023, we had our first 3S in front of a capacity crowd at the Cambridge Public Library.  We received dozens of entries from over 5 states, with high schoolers taking home $5000 in total prizes.  Enjoy this 2-minute overview and other highlights from our yearbook:

We're back!  Here's what to know about this year
NEW:  "Beat AI" prize

This year, we’re introducing a special prize for high schoolers who submit original written stories in response to a prompt, which will also be provided to a generative AI system like ChatGPT.  A first round of judges will identify the top student entry for this separate category.  This human entry will then go head to head with an AI story, which will both be performed by a voice actor on stage at the Finals.  Our Finals judges will then blindly evaluate the winner (they will not know which is AI or human-generated).

The Prompt:  "Little did Bob realize that his simple act of helping an old lady cross the street would, in 24 hours, lead to a great scientific discovery. The day had started in a very ordinary way..."  Complete the story in 500 words or less!


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).  Tours of MIT School of Science labs in the fall


Beat AI:
$500 cash award to student(s) that “beats” AI, or $250 to runner-up

Key dates

Wednesday, June 5, 2024:
Portal for submissions opens (sign up below for email updates or follow our socials)

Wednesday, August 7:
Deadline to submit entries

Wednesday, August 21:
Finalists notified

Wednesday, September 25:
3S in-person Finals event at 6:30-8:30PM at the Cambridge Public Library    


All US high school students are invited to participate, including rising 9th graders and graduating seniors as of summer 2024.  


Note that winners receive only one of the cash prizes (for example, the Audience Choice winner will receive a total of $500).  Finalists that are outside of driving distance (2.5 hours) of Cambridge, MA, can apply for partial reimbursement of travel expenses.


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 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 a 5-minute video, which can be recorded with a smartphone (excluding “Beat AI” category entries, which must be written and be of similar length).  Students can submit multiple entries, and joint entries are welcome, but they must list all contributors in the submission and will split any cash prize.


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


Celebrated scientists and storytellers, including the return of Kate Zernike of the New York Times and Malik & Miles George of MIT!  Stay tuned for more updates.


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